Connect with us
background

News

Maritime Archaeology Trust explores wreck for BBC’s Inside Out

Published

on

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

Komodo National Park found to be Manta Hotspot

Published

on

Through a collaborative effort between citizen divers, scientists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), and Murdoch University, a new study reports a large number of manta rays in the waters of Komodo National Park, Indonesian, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suggesting the area may hold the key to regional recovery of the threatened species.

Reef mantas (Mobula alfredi), which grow up to 5m, tend to reside and feed in shallow, coastal habitats. They also visit ‘cleaning stations’ on coral reefs to have parasites, or dead skin picked off by small fish. Courtship ‘trains’ are also observed adjacent to cleaning stations. In Komodo National Park, manta rays are present year-round, challenging the famous Komodo dragon as the most sought-after megafauna for visitors.

Scientists teamed up with the dive operator community to source identification photographs of manta rays visiting the parks’ waters and submit them to MantaMatcher.org – a crowdsourced online database for mantas and other rays. Most of the photographs came from just four locations from over 20 commonly visited by tourism boats.

I was amazed by how receptive the local dive community was in helping collect much-needed data on these threatened animals,” said lead author Dr. Elitza Germanov. “With their support, we were able to identify over 1,000 individual manta rays from over 4,000 photographs.

People love manta rays—they are one of the most iconic animals in our oceans. The rise of the number of people engaging in SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and the advent of affordable underwater cameras meant that photos and videos taken by the public during their holidays could be used to quickly and affordably scale data collection,” said MMF co-founder and study co-author Dr. Andrea Marshall.

The photographs’ accompanying time and location data is used to construct sighting histories of individual manta rays, which can then be analyzed with statistical movement models. These models predict the likelihood that manta rays are inhabiting or traveling in between specific sites. The study’s results showed that some manta rays moved around the park and others as far as the Nusa Penida MPA (>450 km to the west), but overall, manta rays showed individual preferences for specific sites within the Park.

I found it very interesting how some manta rays appear to prefer spending their time in some sites more than others, even when sites are 5 km apart, which are short distances for manta rays,” said Dr. Elitza Germanov. “This means that manta rays which prefer sites where fishing activities continue to occur or that are more popular with tourism will endure greater impacts.”

Fishing activities have been prohibited in many coastal areas within Komodo NP since 1984, offering some protection to manta rays prior to the 2014 nationwide protection. However, due to illegal fishing activity and manta ray movements into heavily fished waters, manta rays continue to face a number of threats from fisheries. About 5% of Komodo’s manta rays have permanent injuries that are likely the result of encounters with fishing gear.

The popularity of tourism to these sites grew by 34% during the course of the study. An increase in human activity can negatively impact manta rays and their habitats. In 2019, the Komodo National Park Authority introduced limits on the number of boats and people that visit one of the most famous manta sites.

This study shows that the places where tourists commonly observe manta rays are important for the animals to feed, clean, and mate. This means that the Komodo National Park should create measures to limit the disturbance at these sites,” said Mr. Ande Kefi, an employee of the Komodo National Park involved with this study. “I hope that this study will encourage tourism operators to understand the need for the regulations already imposed and increase compliance.”

Despite Indonesia’s history with intensive manta ray fisheries, Komodo National Park still retains large manta ray aggregations that with careful ongoing management and threat reduction will benefit regional manta ray populations. The study highlights that marine protected areas that are large enough to host important manta ray habitats are a beneficial tool for manta ray conservation.

For more information about MMF visit their website here.

Continue Reading

News

Euro-Divers opens to guests at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

Published

on

In celebration of Euro-Divers’ 50 Years of Diving with Friends in the Maldives, the team have opened a new PADI 5 Star Dive Center at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives.

Alila Kothaifaru Maldives retreat lies at the northern edge of the Maldives in the tranquil Raa Atoll, reached via a panoramic 45-minute seaplane voyage from Male. The island has 80 all-pool-villas, 36 of which are over water with a private pool for your enjoyment and 44 beachfront villas designed seamlessly to immerse guests in the natural surroundings. In support of sustainable tourism, Alila hotels adopt Earth Check operating standards, integrating their environments’ natural, physical, and cultural elements.

Raa Atoll is well-known for the excellent scuba diving it offers. The underwater landscape of Raa Atoll is characterized by a high number of thilas scattered inside the lagoons. These underwater coral mountains are magnets for marine life including huge schools of tropical reef fish, a generous splash of colour, iconic bucket-list-must-see marine creatures including sharks, mantas (appearing during the entire year), turtles, and uncrowded dive sites—a perfect diver’s heaven for beginners and experienced divers. We offer a full range of PADI courses for different levels. From November till March, the Manta cleaning station is located 15 minutes away by boat.

The team from Alila Kothaifaru Maldives look forward to welcoming you soon.

Find out more at: www.euro-divers.com/alila-kothaifaru-maldives

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular