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Italian divers vow to recover all victims

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Italian rescuers said on Saturday they planned to raise a wreck filled with corpses after a tragedy in which 300 African asylum-seekers are feared dead, as fishermen cast a wreath in the water.

Rough seas have forced the search off the island of Lampedusa to be suspended, and controversy has erupted over unsanitary conditions in a badly overcrowded refugee centre on the remote outcrop.

“We have a legal but also a moral responsibility to recover all the bodies,” said Leonardo Ricci, a spokesman on the island for the financial police, which also has border patrol duties in Italy.

“There are hundreds of families that are waiting for news,” he said, adding that there was a “preliminary plan” to raise the wreck while providing no precise details on how and when this would happen.

Divers spoke of “dozens, maybe hundreds” of bodies trapped in the wreck, which lies on the seabed at a depth of around 40 metres within sight of the shore of Italy’s southernmost point.

Officials said more bodies may have been lost forever due to strong currents around the island.

“The more time passes with these conditions, the less likely it is that we will find those who have been swept out to sea,” said Ignazio Gibilaro, another financial police official.

Emergency workers have recovered 111 bodies so far and plucked 155 survivors from the sea.

It is feared the final death toll could rise to close to 300, which would make this the worst ever Mediterranean refugee tragedy after a previous one in 1996, also off Italian shores, claimed 283 lives.

Fishermen from the island, which has a population of just 6,000 and is closer to north Africa than to Italy, took their boats out to sea on Saturday in a commemoration for the drowned.

“The dead cannot be forgotten, they have to be commemorated because they are people who tried to come and work, to live a better life,” said local fisherman Salvatore Martello as he cast a wreath.

“To Those Who Died At Sea,” read a white ribbon on the bunch of yellow and orange flowers bobbing in the water.

The fishermen then held a minute of silence.

Separately, the coast guard has also been forced to defend itself after accusations from the sailors who were first at the scene that bureaucratic delays in launching the official rescue had cost lives.

One survivor is the boat’s 35-year-old Tunisian skipper, who has been detained as prosecutors weigh charges against him.

Local prosecutor Ignazio Fonzo said the inquiry was proving “difficult” because survivors being heard as witnesses officially had to be considered suspects under Italy’s law against illegal immigration and therefore had to be provided with defence lawyers as well as interpreters.

The boat left Libya with an estimated 450 to 500 on board, mostly Eritreans and Somalis.

 

Source: www.omantribune.com

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Smart Shark Diving: The Importance of Awareness Below the Surface

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shark diving

By: Wael Bakr

Introduction to Shark Diving Awareness‍

In the realm of marine life, few creatures captivate our interest, and sometimes our fear, like the shark. This fascination often finds a home in the hearts of those who venture beneath the waves, particularly scuba divers who love shark diving. It’s here that shark awareness takes the spotlight. Shark awareness is not just about understanding these magnificent creatures; it’s about fostering respect, dispelling fear, and promoting conservation. As Jacques Cousteau once said, “People protect what they love.” And to love something, one must first understand it.

Shark awareness is not a mere fascination; it’s a responsibility that we owe to our oceans and their inhabitants. From the smallest reef shark to the colossal great white, each species plays a crucial role in the underwater ecosystem. Our understanding and appreciation of these creatures can help ensure their survival.

However, shark awareness isn’t just about protecting the sharks; it’s also about protecting ourselves. As scuba divers, we share the underwater world with these magnificent creatures. Understanding them allows us to dive safely and responsibly, enhancing our experiences beneath the waves.

Importance of Shark Awareness in Scuba Diving

The relevance of shark awareness in scuba diving cannot be overstated. Sharks, like all marine life, are an integral part of the underwater ecosystem. Their presence and behavior directly influence our experiences as divers. By understanding sharks, we can better appreciate their role in the ocean, anticipate their actions, and reduce potential risks.

Awareness is crucial for safety when shark diving. Despite their often-misunderstood reputation, sharks are generally not a threat to humans. However, like any wild animal, they can pose risks if provoked or threatened. By understanding shark behavior, we can identify signs of stress or aggression and adjust our actions accordingly. This not only protects us but also respects the sharks and their natural behaviors.

Moreover, shark awareness enriches our diving experiences. Observing sharks in their natural habitat is a thrilling experience. Understanding them allows us to appreciate this spectacle fully. It’s not just about seeing a shark; it’s about understanding its role in the ecosystem, its behavior, and its interaction with other marine life. This depth of knowledge adds a new dimension to our diving experiences.

Understanding Shark Behavior: The Basics

The first step in shark awareness is understanding shark behavior. Sharks are not the mindless predators they are often portrayed to be. They are complex creatures with unique behaviors and communication methods. Understanding these basics can significantly enhance our interactions with them.

Sharks communicate primarily through body language. By observing their movements, we can gain insights into their mood and intentions. For example, a relaxed shark swims with slow, fluid movements. In contrast, a stressed or agitated shark may exhibit rapid, jerky movements or other signs of discomfort such as gill flaring.

Sharks also use their bodies to express dominance or assertiveness. A dominant shark may swim with its pectoral fins pointed downwards, while a submissive shark may swim with its fins flattened against its body. Understanding these signals can help us interpret shark behavior accurately and respond appropriately.

How Shark Awareness Enhances Scuba Diving Experiences

Shark awareness significantly enhances our scuba diving experiences. It transforms encounters with sharks from mere sightings into meaningful interactions. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s the power to appreciate, respect, and safely interact with one of the ocean’s most fascinating inhabitants.

A thorough understanding of behavior when shark diving allows us to interpret their actions and responses accurately. It enables us to recognize signs of stress or aggression and adjust our behavior accordingly. This not only ensures our safety but also promotes responsible interactions that respect the sharks and their natural behaviors.

Furthermore, shark awareness adds a new layer of depth to our diving experiences. It’s one thing to see a shark; it’s another to understand its behavior, its role in the ecosystem, and its interactions with other marine life. This depth of understanding enriches our experiences and fosters a deeper appreciation for our underwater world.

Misconceptions About Sharks: Busting the Myths

Unfortunately, sharks are often misunderstood, feared, and even demonized. These misconceptions can be detrimental, not only to our experiences as divers but also to shark conservation efforts. As part of shark awareness, it’s important to debunk these myths and present sharks in their true light.

First and foremost, sharks are not mindless killing machines. They are complex creatures with unique behaviors and communication methods. They are not interested in humans as prey and, in most cases, prefer to avoid us.

Secondly, not all sharks are dangerous. Out of over 500 species of sharks, only a handful are considered potentially harmful to humans. Most sharks are harmless, and even those that can pose a threat are unlikely to attack unless provoked.

Lastly, sharks are not invincible. They are vulnerable to a host of threats, most notably human activities such as overfishing and habitat destruction. They need our understanding and protection, not our fear and persecution.

Shark Behavior: What to Expect When Scuba Diving

When scuba diving, it’s important to know what to expect from sharks. Most encounters with sharks are peaceful and awe-inspiring. However, as with any wild animal, it’s essential to be prepared and understand their behavior.

Most sharks are shy and cautious creatures. They are likely to observe you from a distance, often circling around to get a better look. This is normal behavior and not a sign of aggression.

However, if a shark becomes agitated or feels threatened, it may exhibit signs of stress such as rapid, jerky movements or gill flaring. In such cases, it’s essential to remain calm, avoid sudden movements, and slowly retreat if possible.

Remember, every encounter with a shark is an opportunity to observe and learn. With understanding and respect, these encounters can be safe, enriching, and truly unforgettable experiences.

Practical Tips for Shark Awareness During Scuba Diving

Being aware of sharks during scuba diving is about more than just understanding their behavior. It’s about applying this knowledge in practical ways to ensure safe and respectful interactions. Here are a few tips for shark awareness during scuba diving.

Firstly, always observe sharks from a safe distance. Avoid approaching them directly or making sudden movements, as this can startle or threaten them.

Secondly, never attempt to touch or feed sharks. This can disrupt their natural behavior and potentially put you at risk.

Lastly, always respect the sharks and their environment. Avoid disturbing their habitat or interfering with their natural behaviors. Remember, we are visitors in their world.

Promoting Shark Conservation through Scuba Diving

Scuba diving offers a unique platform for promoting shark conservation. As divers, we have the privilege of witnessing the beauty and complexity of sharks firsthand. We can share these experiences with others, fostering understanding and appreciation for these magnificent creatures.

Moreover, we can actively contribute to shark conservation. Many diving operators offer opportunities to participate in shark research and conservation initiatives. By participating in these programs, we can help ensure the survival of sharks for future generations.

Lastly, we can advocate for sharks. By sharing our knowledge and experiences, we can help dispel misconceptions about sharks and promote their protection. Every voice counts in the fight for shark conservation.

Courses and Resources for Shark Awareness and Behavior

There are many resources available for those interested in shark awareness and behavior. Scuba Diving International as well as numerous conservation-based organizations offer courses and workshops on shark biology, behavior, and conservation. These courses provide in-depth knowledge and practical skills for interacting with sharks responsibly and safely. From courses like our Marine Ecosystems Awareness Specialty and our Advanced Adventure Certification provide you with the information you need to tackle this new challenge!

Additionally, there are many online resources available, including websites, blogs, and forums dedicated to shark awareness and conservation. These platforms offer a wealth of information and a community of like-minded individuals passionate about sharks.

I encourage anyone interested in sharks to explore these resources, to sign up for one of SDI’s courses call your local dive center or instructor or reach out to your regional representative/ World HQ to find where the class is being taught near you. Knowledge is the first step towards understanding, appreciation, and conservation.

Conclusion: The Role of Shark Awareness in Future Scuba Diving Experiences

As we look to the future, the role of shark awareness in scuba diving will only continue to grow. As our understanding of these magnificent creatures deepens, so too will our appreciation and respect for them. This knowledge will shape our interactions with sharks, enhancing our experiences and promoting responsible and respectful behavior.

Shark awareness is more than just an interest; it’s a responsibility. It’s a commitment to understanding, respecting, and protecting one of the ocean’s most fascinating inhabitants. And it’s a journey that I invite all divers to embark on.

As we dive into the blue, let’s dive with awareness. Let’s dive with respect. And let’s dive with a commitment to understand and protect our underwater world. For in the end, the ocean’s health is our health, and every creature within it, including the sharks, plays a crucial role in maintaining this delicate balance.

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Divers Have More Fun in the Philippines (Watch Video)

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philippines

Pretty much whatever kind of diving interests you have, the chances are there is something for you in the Philippines.

From the Japanese WW2 wrecks in Coron; the Thresher sharks in Malapascua; big schools of fish, sharks and huge walls in Tubbataha; World class macro diving in Anilao, Puerto Galera, Romblon and Dumaguete; Whalesharks in Southern Leyte, Oslob, Donsol and Bohol; Massive schools of sardines in Moalboal and Bohol and stunning hard and soft coral reefs right across the country.

Plus, the Filipinos are the friendliest people on the planet!

Divers have more fun in the Philippines!

Book your next Philippines Dive Adventure with Philippine Dive Holidays, the specialists when it comes to diving in the Philippines! Visit www.philippinediveholidays.com to find out more.

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