Nearly 70 members of St Albans SAC recently took part in a 24-hour diveathon at the Cottonmill Swimming Pool to raise more than £1,500 for the Scuba Trust.
They whiled away the hours playing underwater hockey, hand tennis and even found time to read glossy magazines as they completed their marathon charity dive.
The event was organised to celebrate BSAC’s 60th anniversary as well as the re-opening of their newly refurbished lido pool which they lease from the local council. The open air pool has had a major £50,000 overhaul thanks to funding through Sport England. Thanks to the grant, the restoration has seen leak repairs and the refurbishment of the formerly unusable poolside changing rooms and showers.
The revamped pool means the club can offer it as a community resource for other local clubs, including a local canoe club.
Lisa Shafe, a diving instructor with St Albans SAC and one of the organisers of the diveathon, said: “The whole event was fantastic, absolutely brilliant, even if we are all shattered!
“Our aim was to have 60 divers in the pool over the 24 hour period and we beat that with 68 divers taking part. The combined dive times of all the divers amounts to 72 hours 20 minutes.
“And we had a target of raising £1,000 toward the work of the Scuba Trust, which helps people with disabilities enjoy diving, and we have easily topped that total through our on-line charity giving site and pledges.”
She added: “As a club we were delighted to welcome the Mayor of St Albans, Annie Brewster, along. She enjoyed some snorkelling with us while we also had several people come along to have a go with try-dives.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that, as a result, we have three new members signed up as club members while a further seven people are considering whether they want to join the club and take up our wonderful sport.”
According to Lisa, the scuba divers came up with all sorts of novel ways to pass the time as they completed the diveathon.
She said: “We started at mid-day on Saturday and went through until 8pm. Unfortunately, we experienced some pretty heavy thunderstorms and came out of the water just after 8pm until they cleared.
“The pool is in a residential area and out of respect for our neighbours we stayed out of the water, to keep any noise to a minimum, until just before dawn going back in at 3am and staying until mid-day on the Sunday.
“Some of our younger club members enjoyed an energetic game of ‘octopush’ which is a form of underwater hockey. Others had a game of underwater hand tennis while I decided to settle down with a good old magazine for a quiet read.
“Glossy magazines will survive being dunked underwater for a couple of hours before they disintegrate so my aquatic read proved no problem.”
She added: “As a club we couldn’t be happier, we have raised a fantastic sum for the Scuba Trust, attracted some new members to the club and also supported Help for Heroes. What a brilliant weekend!”
To find out more about St Albans Sub Aqua Club, visit http://www.sasac.co.uk/
Project SIARC through to the finals of The National Lottery Awards
Project SIARC has been nominated alongside 16 other projects from across the UK to be named National Lottery Project of the Year.
The marine environment in Wales is teeming with life; beneath the often-murky waters are little understood species of shark, skate and ray (elasmobranchs) of conservation importance.
Project SIARC is catalysing links between fishers, researchers, communities and government to collaborate and safeguard elasmobranchs and support a green recovery in Wales.
“We are so grateful for this nomination – it’s thanks to all of our wonderful communities, partners and volunteers working with us to help safeguard and celebrate sharks, skates and rays in Wales”, commented Project SIARC Technical Specialist and regular Scubaverse contributor Jake Davies.
For more information about Project SIARC, visit https://www.projectsiarc.com/.
Silent Reef Keepers: The Fight to Save the Caribbean Reef Shark
The Kingdom of the Netherlands will ask for increased protection for the Caribbean reef shark during next month’s Conference of Parties for the Cartagena Convention (COPs) on Aruba. Caribbean reef sharks play a critical role in maintaining a healthy reef ecosystem and building resilience within the oceans. This increased protection is critical for ensuring a sustainable future for this iconic species.
The Caribbean Sea is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and a dazzling array of marine life. Among the charismatic inhabitants of this underwater paradise is the Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezii), a species that plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of coral reef ecosystems. In the Dutch Caribbean, these apex predators face mounting threats, but there is hope on the horizon. At the upcoming Conference of Parties for the Cartagena Convention (COPs), the Kingdom of the Netherlands will seek increased protection for these magnificent creatures by listing this species on Annex III of the SPAW Protocol. Annex III includes plant and animal species which require additional protection to ensure this species is able to adequately recover their populations in the Wider Caribbean Region.
Caribbean reef sharks thrive in warm, tropical waters of the Caribbean region, with a distribution range that stretches from Florida to Brazil. This species is one of the most encountered reef shark species throughout the whole Caribbean Sea. Growing up to 3m (9.8ft) in length, this shark is one of the largest apex predators in the reef ecosystem and is at the top of the marine food web, having only a few natural predators.
In addition to being of great economic value, as shark diving is a major draw for divers from around the world, this species is also critical for maintaining balance within the reef ecosystem. Their presence helps regulate the population of smaller prey species, which in turn, prevents overgrazing on seagrass beds and coral reefs and eliminates sick or weak fish from the population. This balance is essential for maintaining the health and diversity of the entire coral reef.
Despite their ecological and economic significance, Caribbean reef sharks in the Caribbean face numerous threats that have led to a population reduction estimated to be between 50–79% over the past 29 years. In the (Dutch) Caribbean this is mainly caused by:
Habitat Degradation: The degradation of coral reefs and seagrass beds due to climate change, pollution, and coastal development has a direct impact on the availability of prey for these sharks. Loss of habitat reduces their ability to find food and shelter.
Overfishing: Overfishing poses one of the most immediate threats to Caribbean reef sharks. They are often caught incidentally in commercial fisheries, where fishermen are targeting other species, or intentionally, where they are sought after for their fins, used in shark fin soup.
A Call for Increased Protection
There are different organizations and individuals working to protect sharks and their habitats in the Dutch Caribbean. A significant milestone was the establishment of protected areas such as the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary between Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. Another milestone was in 2019 when the Dutch government adopted an International Shark Strategy. The strategy sets out which protective and management actions for sharks and rays are to be taken by the government in all seas and oceans where the Netherlands has influence (including the Dutch Caribbean). Additional efforts are still needed to create more marine protected areas, enhance enforcement, reduce pollution in the ocean, and promote sustainable fishing practices. These species know no (political) boundaries and their protection requires broadscale conservation efforts within the Dutch Caribbean and beyond.
The Caribbean reef shark is a species of paramount importance to the (Dutch) Caribbean’s coral reefs. With the extra protection being requested during the next COPS meeting in Aruba, there is hope that this species will have a healthy future. By recognizing their ecological significance and the challenges they face, we can work together to ensure a brighter future for the Caribbean Reef Shark in the Dutch Caribbean and beyond.
The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) supports science communication and outreach in the Dutch Caribbean region by making nature-related scientific information more widely available through amongst others the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database, DCNA’s news platform BioNews and the press. This article contains the results from several scientific studies but the studies themselves are not DCNA studies. No rights can be derived from the content. DCNA is not liable for the content and the in(direct) impacts resulting from publishing this article.
Photo + photo credit: Jim Abernethy-all rights reserved
For more information, please contact: research@DCNAnature.org
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