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Maritime Archaeology Trust explores wreck for BBC’s Inside Out

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Archaeologists from the Maritime Archaeology Trust joined a team to help families discover the fate of their relatives for a BBC Inside Out feature, broadcast on the 24th February 2014.

Led by Dave Wendes and cameraman Mike Pitts, the Trust’s archaeologists worked to reinvestigate the wreck of the SS South Western, sunk in 1918.

The South Western was a steam ship built by J & W Dudgeon of London in 1874. At the time of sinking it was owned by London and South Western Railway Company and registered in Southampton.

On the 16th March 1918 it departed Southampton with 12 ½ tons of general cargo bound for St. Malo. There were 28 crew, including Captain John Alfred Clark. That night the ship sank with slightly contradicting accounts of what happened.

The captain reported spotting a submarine at 11 pm, but it was too close to the ship and submerged before a shot could be fired. At 11.30 he reported it again on the starboard side and the order was given to the gunners manning the aft gun to fire. Before they had time to do so the ship was hit by a torpedo and began to sink.

Slightly contradicting the previous report, Frank Gleadhill, the commander of the gun crew, reported that he lay in his bunk until 11.30 pm, at which point he felt a judder throughout the hull. Upon going out on deck he heard the captain report something suspicious and order a sharp lookout. Ten minutes later he spotted a submarine on the port beam. Gleadhill ran to the aft gun, where the two crew loaded and layed the gun. Moments before the order to fire could be given, a torpedo slammed into the side of the ship. After the blast the gun crew were nowhere to be seen.

In the BBC feature families who lost relatives were told of Gledhill’s survivor report to help them understand what happened that night from the personal perspective of those on board.

Initially it appeared that the behaviour of the gun crew was unsatisfactory, but the revelations in Gleadhill’s report suggests this view should be reconsidered. It indicates that gun crew had remained at their station and were only prevented from firing by the explosion of the torpedo.

The televised feature shows some previously unseen dive footage of the wreck. This was only possible thanks to extensive archival research carried out by David Wendes who successfully located the vessel remains in his research South Coast Shipwrecks off East Dorset and Wight: 1870-1979. The wreck today has a height of 5-6m above the seabed and lies on its starboard side with its boilers spilled out onto the seabed.

The wreck dive and footage not only contributes to the archaeological knowledge of the vessel, but has also helped families to come to terms with their relatives deaths. Riva Mollison, the great granddaughter of a crewman stated that for her the wreck is a tangible piece of evidence that her relative existed. She believes that exploring wrecks helps overcome the issues of no grave being available when lives are lost at sea.

You can watch the programme in full here.

To find out more about the Maritime Archaeology Trust, visit their website:

www.maritimearchaeologytrust.org

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Jeff chats to… Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Craig is a Key Grip and Lighting Director with 10,000s of hours of Set Experience.

In Craig’s own words:

I started my career when I was in my first year of college.  I always had that creative side of the brain that needed to be followed as a career.  I thought that would be in designing engineering pieces but wasn’t happy about the idea of an office cubicle and drafting table.

I accidentally found my way onto a big commercial job for a week and decided “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO”.   I made it my career after that. This is a quick list of recent and big projects in my 35 yrs of TV / Film / Photography.

Most Recently:

  • “Black Panther 2” – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • “Stranger Things” Season 4 – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • “Suicide Squad 2” – UW Gaffer / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
  • NASCAR / FOX Sports 1 – Network TV Lighting Director – 7 years / 700 races of Live BIG track TV shows
  • 10,000s of commercials / music videos / tv shows

I started diving when I was 18 years old with my OW and then AOW with PADI. I was diving with lots of friends in the late 80s and early 90s and then moved onto Kayaking. I got my daughter into diving when she turned 14 and have picked up where I left off.

I have approx 5000 dives now and spend most of my free time diving.

Here are my certs:

  • OW – AOW 1989
  • Adv Nitrox / Deco 2020
  • Cavern – Intro Cave 2021
  • CCR Tech – Fathom – 2021

You can find out more at www.craigwaller.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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