To celebrate Malta’s presidency of the European Union in 2017, the Malta Tourism Authority organised a European Divers Meeting and we were lucky enough to be invited along. As you have seen in our last post, we are based on Gozo and managed to get a day of diving in before the festivities started. Divers and journalists from all over the European Union have gathered to celebrate the diving here. The divers were spread over the many dive centres in Malta and Gozo, but on Tuesday night they all got together for the first time at the Popeye Centre on Malta (where the film starring Robin Williams was filmed).
Over 100 dive centre owners and employees, divers and journalists from the dive magazines throughout Europe gathered for a drink and meal together. The evening also included the launch of a new degree in diving (http://www.isdsm.edu.mt/) which will cover the full range of diving topics, from safety and diving medicine to conservation and biology. It is the first of its kind and will allow students to enrol and learn online, whilst also getting credit for any existing qualifications. A talk about the changing marine life of the islands followed, with posters handed out to all the dive centres to help them and their clients report “alien” species that are either known to exist already in these waters, or for those expected here soon.
The next day was the big event of the week, with all the divers gathering on Gozo to dive the MV Karwela wreck. First thing in the morning, the wreck was adorned with a flag from each country in the European Union attached to the hull rails as a form of celebration. The Karwela wreck lies, upright, in 40m of water off the south coast of Gozo. There is a kitting up area at the top of the hill, where refreshments were laid on for all who came and dived. DAN also had a tent setup to collect dive data from divers (along with Doppler bubble tests) to enhance their research.
Our host dive centre, Calypso Diving Centre, were a huge help to us. With Caroline still injured from a previous fall, their instructors and divemasters carried our dive gear down to the water (and back up the hill for us). We could not have done it without them! We also met up with Facebook friend Pete Bullen, Gozo’s most famous underwater photographer and promised to go to the opening night of his exhibition (more on this in our next post).
The wreck is just a short surface swim or dive from the shoreline. Its most famous feature is a central staircase but with the bottom step at 38m you do not get too much time to admire it… and capture your image. It was great to see all the flags lining the outside rail of the ship and, as an added bonus, we found a seahorse on the way back up.
The day was certainly a success, with so many divers from so many countries coming together to celebrate at the same dive site. There was a great atmosphere and most divers took advantage and did several dives (or free dives) over the day. More on our trip in our next post soon!
For more from Nick and Caroline, visit www.frogfishphotography.com