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:
PADI and Circular Flow Partner to Pursue Sustainable Neoprene Recycling Programme
Trial Launches in the UK to Prove Feasibility and Scalability
PADI® is bringing about positive change for our shared blue planet through their partnership with Circular Flow. The goal is to create a closed loop neoprene recycling programme to foster a dive economy that aims to reduce the global impact of old and discarded wetsuits within the dive industry.
An estimated 8,380 tons of old wetsuits lie unused every year, with the majority inevitably headed for landfill thanks to the popularity of thermal protection in water sports, coupled with the lack of scalable, sustainable recycling systems for neoprene.
Recognising the opportunity for innovation, PADI, in partnership with Circular Flow, aims to offer the dive industry effective and sustainable solutions to the problem of disposing of wetsuits and other non-biodegradable neoprene products. The goal is to keep them out of landfills and recycle them into useful products such as mask straps and changing mats. To ensure feasibility and determine global scalability, the initiative will begin with a test in the UK.
“PADI is committed to help reduce the global environmental footprint of the dive industry and support our members and divers to reduce impact as well,” says Drew Richardson, CEO and President of PADI Worldwide. “We are constantly looking for new and scalable ways to do so through our Mission Hubs across the planet. We are proud to introduce and test this ground-breaking recycling programme into our community, enabling every diver to recycle neoprene as part of being an Ocean Torchbearer.”
During the initial trial, divers can bring their clean and dry wet suits and other neoprene items to participating UK Dive Centres from August 11th – August 22nd. PADI and Circular Flow will then arrange for the free collection of the items for recycling. Circular Flow will implement an innovative process to recycle the neoprene, after shipping the neoprene to a specialised factory. The patented recycling process eliminates the use of chemicals or water and utilising electricity, pressure and heat.
To learn more about the programme or locate a place to drop off your end-of-life neoprene in the UK, visit circularflow.net/padi
DAN Founder Peter Bennett has passed away
Peter Bennett, PhD, DSc, passed away on Tuesday in the company of his wife, Margaret, and son, Chris. Bennett was a passionate researcher and entrepreneur who founded Divers Alert Network in 1980 and led the organization for 23 years.
Born in Portsmouth, England, on June 12, 1931, Bennett studied chemistry and biology at the University of London, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1951. After university he worked at the Royal Navy Physiological Laboratory and in 1964 earned his doctorate in physiology and biochemistry from the University of Southampton.
Bennett loved diving medicine and physiology and was a charter member of the Undersea Medical Society at its founding in 1967. He was later its president (1975-1976), the editor of its journal (1976-1979), and its executive director (beginning in 2007).
In 1972 Bennett moved to the United States, where he was first named deputy director and later director of the F.G. Hall Laboratory hyperbaric chamber facility at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In 1980, Bennett submitted a proposal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for a grant to fund an emergency hotline for injured divers. Thus Bennett and his colleagues at Duke undertook responsibility for the hotline that would eventually grow and become Divers Alert Network.
During his 23-year tenure at the helm of DAN, Bennett oversaw introduction of the organization’s membership program, dive accident insurance program, research department, continuing medical education program, training department, and more.
An emeritus professor of anesthesiology at Duke University, Bennett published more than 100 journal publications, 31 book chapters, and several books, including Physiology and Medicine of Diving, a definitive work in the field. He also published numerous reports, workshop proceedings, and abstracts. Among his areas of interest were trimix, deep stops, and high-pressure nervous syndrome.
Over the years Bennett received many awards, including the 1980 NOGI Award for Sciences by the Underwater Society of America. He also received recognition from DEMA, SSI, the Underwater Society of America, the National Academy of Scuba Educators, NAUI, the British Historical Diving Society, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and many others.
“In founding DAN, Dr. Bennett accomplished something truly remarkable,” said DAN president and CEO Bill Ziefle. “It is because of his vision and action that divers all over the world now have the support of an organization that stands ready to assist in the event of an emergency. Dr. Bennet’s inquisitive mind and drive to achieve were gifts to divers everywhere.”
“Peter Bennett dedicated his life to the advancement of diving,” said DAN medical director Jim Chimiak, MD. “Few equal his combined accomplishments as a researcher, organizer, and leader in diving medicine. He will remain a profound influence on everyone working in this increasingly important area of human endeavor. He displayed an infectious, pioneering spirit that rallied expert, worldwide collaborations that routinely accomplished the impossible. He was a great mentor and friend who will be truly missed.”
Join the DAN community or learn more at www.DAN.org.
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