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Open Ocean: a not for profit NGO marine field station in the Red Sea

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marine field station

Providing services for universities, researchers, interns, schools, divers, volunteers and conservationists

Open Ocean was established in 2010 to provide a not for profit NGO field station in the Red Sea for academic facilities and divers in general. Founder Hans Lange could not have dreamt how well received his vision would be.

Things truly took off in 2012 when Hans joined forces with Pharaoh Dive Club and Roots Red Sea to establish a totally self-contained field station near El Quseir at their remote coastal desert outpost surrounded by a phenomenal array of marine habitats and an abundant natural resource to study.

The academic interest in the Research and Education opportunities coupled with the simplified logistics of being a complete package proved a great move for Open Ocean and the academic facilities that have been drawn to the field station.

marine field station

At El Quseir the focus was on Volunteering with residential programmes providing opportunities to get involved in many aspects of life in rural Egypt, in various fields such as Environmental Conservation, Citizen Science Projects, and Local Community Interactive Relationships.

Open Ocean has welcomed numerous volunteers to the programme from all walks of life and all demographics.

marine field station

Volunteers are very much hands on with whatever activity is running, including:

Environmental Conservation

Organising beach and reef clean ups; sorting of and collating data on the collected debris; appropriate recycling and disposal of the collections.

marine field station

Community projects such as maintenance and refurbishment of local schools.

marine field station

Providing conservation education sessions with practical events for the local children and environment groups.

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

Citizen Science Projects

There are various ongoing Citizen Science Projects running at Open Ocean and every visitor is encouraged to get involved during their stay. Volunteers take a variety of roles within these projects, collecting data directly through surveys or indirectly collating other participants’ data at the end of the day. If suitably qualified, they can also get involved with establishing and running their own projects.

marine field station

There are various opportunities to get involved such as Turtle Watch or the Shark Trust‘s survey which are simply reporting your sightings from your dives through to full project developments such as Fern’s Reef and the Sea Grass Survey.

Fern’s Reef

In August 2016, Open Ocean established a virgin artificial reef with sterile substrate to monitor and research the colonisation of the new structure. The lead on the project was Fern and the resultant reef is known as Fern’s Reef.

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

The structure required bringing in from the shore 500 pieces of fossilised coral bed, formed into a random shaped metre high barrier in a depth of 8 metres with a sand bed and a relatively good tidal flow.

marine field station

On completion a photo telemetry image was produced to establish a 3D base model record. After just a short period of time, signs of emerging life were noted and after just 6 months there were numerous corals taking a foothold with numerous fish inhabiting different areas of the structure.

marine field station

marine field station

This is an ongoing subject of observation and study, one that every visitor takes great interest in as it is now a thriving young live reef. Those with a more scientific outlook also note the distinct changes in topology around the reef, generated by the tidal flow and sand substrate movements. The Open Ocean team are on hand to provide a guided view of the everchanging project.

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

Sea Grass Survey

The latest Citizen Science Project has been established by Open Ocean: a Sea Grass Survey. The team noticed that a patch of sea grass had begun to form a small meadow in the bay, which raise several questions for research and study. Why has it appeared? How has it seeded itself? What species of grass and algae are there? What aquatic life will make use of the new habitat? And so much more.

marine field station

Two volunteers were assigned the task to establish the sea grass project; Gerald Taylor and his 13-year-old son, Finlay. Both had the prerequisite diving skills – Finlay in fact, despite his age, came to Roots with 100dives already under his belt.

marine field station

A month-long exercise at Roots would give Finlay, who has an exceptionally keen interest in the underwater world, real life experience living and working in a foreign country, and an understanding of marine biology project work. Coupled with the project, Finlay worked with the marine biologists at Open Ocean carrying out fish and coral ID and measuring / monitoring techniques.

The initial objective of the project was to measure the perimeter / extremities of the sea grass within the bay and to gain an understanding of its shape, distribution and density.

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

Together Gerald and Finlay formulated by which they were measure the perimeter of the sea grass. They then undertook land-based measuring techniques using 50 meter transects and quadrats, with the full knowledge that stretching a tape underwater to a distance of nearly 50 meters would have its own complications. Armed with their method, Gerald and Finlay set out to map and record the area taking a fixed point location to set the datum.

If you would like to follow the process that they adopted and see how the project developed, you can read Gerald’s summary here.

Meanwhile, alongside the volunteering activities, the grassroots Research and Education activities at Open Ocean have a very impressive, ever growing academic client list with numerous top facilities making regular visitors for both field courses and research projects.

That’s due to Open Ocean’s aim to satisfy researchers’ needs and requirements by providing and ideally located field station with modern research facilities as well as advice and support in administrative and organisational matters.

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

The Open Ocean Field Station offers direct access to the Red Sea at both the house reef, Abu Sauatir, and nearby dozens of reef sites, along with other local habitats of interest including mangroves, sea grass meadows and fossil reefs.

marine field station

marine field station

Find out more about what is available at Open Ocean Field Station with a short presentation here.

Research Opportunities

It’s not just the field study groups that frequent the field station; it’s an ideal location for individual study and research projects. here are a few examples of unique studies.

Micro Plastics

Lucy Deans took up a six month placement with Open Ocean in 2016 during which time she completed an amazing amount of conservation work with the assistance from the volunteers and staff. In addition to her paper on microplastics in the sea bed, she endlessly battled with debris from land and sea, collecting, sorting and collating data for her own and other projects.

marine field station

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

Camera Drops

The vast majority of study of the oceans is coastal exploration of the shallow depths from the surface to 20m. Over the past few years the Glasgow University students having been completing summer project work and have been completing camera drops extending this study from 60m to 100m. It’s another example of the range of opportunities that are available from the Open Ocean Field Station.

marine field station

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

National Geographic Octopus Study

In 2019, the Open Ocean Field Station provided Eduardo Sampaio the perfect Red Sea for his continued National Geographic funded research on cephalopod behaviour, cognition and neuroscience. His team spent 10 weeks on location recording the incredible behavioural repertoire, camouflage capabilities and complex cognition. View Eduardo’s publication.

marine field station

marine field station

Survey and Marine ID Courses

In recent years there has been a steep increase in school participation at Open Ocean generally taking advantage of the Open Ocean Survey and Marine ID Courses giving the students insight into the spectacular aquatic environment. The courses can be conducted for snorkellers or divers.

marine field station

marine field station

There is a range of Open Ocean Marine ID Courses for all ages and levels, whether it is young children beginning their voyage of discovery or experienced marine enthusiasts.

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

If you are looking for a new expedition base for your school with an educational background, view our Open Ocean Prospectus for schools here.

Meet the Team

The engine room of Open Ocean are the enthusiastic dedicated team who simply love to talk about the wonders of the marine environment, particularly the Red Sea at El Quseir.

Resident Marine Biologist marc leads the team at the station, ably supported by our Intern Tierra, who provides great support.

marine field station

Alongside is Sammie who takes care of the volunteering activities and is liaison with the local community. Currently Sammie is working with Rose who is out volunteering while developing her diving skills and certifications. Rose has completed her RAID Rescue and is and is about to start the RAID Divemaster.

marine field station

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

They’re not alone though; our consultant Marine Biologist, Dr Deb with her 12 years of field courses at El Quseir, provides vastly experienced guidance and support.

If you are interested in coming out to be a part of the Open Ocean team, here is what just a couple of volunteers have to say:

Contact Open Ocean at info@openoceanproject.org

www.openoceanproject.org

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Diving Redefined: Introducing NovoScuba

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novoscubaAttention all underwater enthusiasts, mermaids, and those who just really enjoy wearing fins! Brace yourselves for the splashiest news in the industry: NovoScuba has burst onto the scuba diving scene like a seal on a beach ball!

Move over, PADI, SSI, SDI, NAUI, RAID, and whoever else is lurking in the depths, because there’s a new fish in town!

But seriously, what gives? Why does NovoScuba think they can swim with the big fish? Are they secretly training dolphins? Are their wetsuits made of magic? Stay tuned as we uncover the mysteries of this underwater revolution!

The team at NovoScuba isn’t just your average squad – we’re a crew of dive store owners, managers, trainers, and pros. We’ve danced with the sharks and wrestled with the currents, so when it comes to the diving industry’s pain points, we’re definitely no strangers. But let’s be real: while existing agencies are stuck in the stone age, we’re here to embrace the 21st century. In a world where even fish have Instagram accounts, the diving industry needs to catch up or sink like a lead weight!

It’s time to challenge a change. Leveraging technology and introducing a breakthrough business model, and digitally native platform, NovoScuba aims to become the most innovative training agency to date.

novoscuba

Here’s a snapshot of what NovoScuba has up their sleeve for dive pros, managers/owners and students alike.

Owners 

  • Pay as you certify system
  • Fully developed digital course materials in multiple languages
  • No stock required
  • Monthly or annual membership fees
  • Business support and advice FOC
  • 24/7 support. Feedback orientated. Fast response and fast adapting
  • ISO Certified
  • Pain free and low cost transition to NovoScuba
  • Your business, your choice. No exclusivity expected or required
  • Pay in your local currency
  • Our automated system keeps your admin to a minimum. Less time on paperwork cuts costs and gives you more time to focus on your business
  • Co-marketing, advertising and support

novoscuba

Pros

  • Monthly membership fees
  • Intelligent online log book that automatically updates student records
  • One click certifications
  • Flexible training – student-centric/instructor trusted
  • Easy and inexpensive crossover
  • Pause your membership when you’re not teaching
  • Pro insurance / legal support
  • Job vacancy board

novoscuba

Students

  • Modern, relevant course materials
  • Fully developed and interactive digital learning
  • Accessible across any digital platform
  • Instant community and support
  • Monthly subscription granting access to all course materials
  • Digital log book for life
  • Streamlined subscription process – minimum admin

novoscuba

What else symbolises the NovoScuba dedication to excellence?

In an era where every other company boasts about being as green as a broccoli smoothie, it’s easy to tune out the noise of eco-friendly claims. But hold your seahorses! NovoScuba isn’t just another fish in the sea of greenwashing. We’re not just dipping our toes in the sustainability pool – we’ve cannonballed straight into it! B-Corp pending, we’re not just talking the talk; we’re doing the fins-on-the-ground work. With a net zero impact that even Captain Planet would applaud, our conservation efforts aren’t some distant pipe dream. Nope, we’re getting our hands wet right in our own diving communities, because let’s face it, saving the planet is a whole lot easier when you can do it in your own backyard – or in this case, your own coral reef!

It’s time to dive into the 21st century and embrace a new, innovative and intelligent training agency. One that fully understands that your success is needed in order for us to succeed. One that is 100% committed to your needs and will grow and adapt in order to keep meeting the challenges of the industry. Welcome to the new age of training. Welcome to NovoScuba – Diving Redefined.

For more information, email info@novoscuba.com or visit www.novoscuba.com.

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Preserving Paradise: Seacology’s Island Conservation Mission

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seacology

Islands are not just pieces of land surrounded by water; they are sanctuaries of biodiversity, cradles of unique cultures, and vital components of our planet’s ecological balance. However, these paradises face numerous threats ranging from habitat destruction to climate change. Recognizing the urgency of protecting these fragile ecosystems, Seacology has emerged as a beacon of hope, championing the preservation of island habitats worldwide while empowering local communities. In this article, we are diving into Seacology’s mission, its global impact, and its generous support for key conservation initiatives in Curaçao.

The Seacology Story:

Seacology, founded in 1991 by Dr. Paul Alan Cox (American ethnobotanist), operates on a simple yet powerful principle: conservation through collaboration. Unlike traditional conservation organizations, Seacology adopts a community-driven approach, partnering directly with island communities to address their needs while safeguarding precious ecosystems.

seacology

At the heart of Seacology’s philosophy lies the belief that sustainable conservation can only be achieved by empowering those who depend on the natural resources of their islands. By working hand in hand with local stakeholders, Seacology fosters a sense of ownership and stewardship, ensuring long-term protection for vital habitats.

A Global Impact of Seacology

Since its inception, Seacology has made remarkable strides in protecting island ecosystems across the globe. Through innovative projects and strategic partnerships, the organization has conserved millions of acres of marine and terrestrial habitat, spanning more than 60 countries.

What sets Seacology apart is its holistic approach, which integrates conservation efforts with community development initiatives. By providing tangible benefits such as clean water, education, and healthcare, Seacology incentivizes local communities to actively participate in conservation efforts, forging a sustainable path towards coexistence with nature.

Curaçao: A Jewel in the Caribbean Crown

Located in the crystalline waters of the Southern Caribbean Sea, Curaçao boasts stunning coral reefs, lush mangroves, and vibrant marine life. However, like many island nations, Curaçao faces a myriad of challenges including overfishing, habitat degradation, and climate change impacts.

seacology

In 2024, Seacology’s commitment to island conservation took center stage in Curaçao, where the organization provided generous support for three key initiatives: Reef Renewal Curaçao, Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, and the Queen Conch Hatchery. Additionally, Seacology provided additional funding to advance sustainable fishing practices through educational programs.

Reef Renewal Curaçao

Coral reefs are the lifeblood of marine ecosystems, supporting a quarter of all marine species despite occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor. However, these invaluable ecosystems are under siege from rising sea temperatures, pollution, and destructive fishing practices.

seacology

Reef Renewal Curaçao, a flagship project supported by Seacology, aims to reverse the decline of coral reefs by implementing innovative coral propagation and restoration techniques. By engaging local communities in reef restoration efforts, Seacology is optimistic that their support will enable Reef Renewal Curaçao to continue their important work revitalizingd amaged ecosystems and fostering a sense of stewardship among residents.

Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao

For millions of years, sea turtles have roamed the world’s oceans, serving as keystone species and indicators of ecosystem health. Yet, these ancient mariners face numerous threats including habitat loss, poaching, and accidental capture in fishing gear.

seacology

In collaboration with Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, Seacology is supporting their efforts to protect Curaçao’s sea turtle populations through research, monitoring, and community outreach. By raising awareness about the importance of sea turtles and implementing measures to mitigate threats, Seacology is aiding Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao to safeguard these iconic creatures for future generations to admire.

The Queen Conch Hatchery

Conch, revered for their succulent meat and ornate shells, are a cultural and culinary staple in many island communities. However, unregulated harvesting has led to depleted populations, jeopardizing both ecological balance and traditional livelihoods.

In Curaçao, Seacology’s support for the Queen Conch Hatchery initiative aims to conserve dwindling conch populations through captive breeding and sustainable harvesting practices. By collaborating with local fishermen and authorities, Seacology is helping to ensure that conch populations thrive while preserving cultural traditions and supporting coastal communities.

The project “Conquer the Future” is investigating the mortality and growth of Queen Conch juveniles, cultured at Curacao Sea Aquarium, after they have been outplanted in the wild. These experiments with small numbers of Queen Conch will take place in both Curaçao (Spanish Water) and Bonaire (Lac Bay). WWF-Dutch Caribbean is the main sponsor of this project, Seacology is the co-sponsor.

Advancing Sustainable Fishing Practices

Fishing is an integral part of Curaçao’s economy and culture, but unsustainable practices have led to overfishing and the depletion of key fish species. Recognizing the need for change, Seacology has provided a grant to the Federation of Cooperative Production (FKUP) to support innovative educational programs aimed at promoting sustainable fishing practices.

Through this initiative, Seacology hopes to instill a sense of environmental stewardship among local fishers. The educational programs focus on teaching sustainable fishing techniques, such as selective gear use, seasonal restrictions, and size limits, which help protect juvenile fish and allow populations to recover. Additionally, the programs emphasize the importance of marine conservation, the impact of overfishing on the ecosystem, and the benefits of sustainable practices for future generations.

seacology

By supporting the FKUP, Seacology is helping to ensure that local fishers have the knowledge and resources to adopt sustainable practices. This not only helps preserve fish stocks and marine biodiversity but also secures the livelihoods of fishing communities in the long term.

WWF-Dutch Caribbean supported in 2023 the first round of the sustainable fishing training organized by FKUP in Curaçao. Due to lack of budget at WWF-DC, FKUP has been looking for another sponsor for this training. They found Seacology to fund more training.

A Beacon of Hope for Island Conservation

In a world grappling with environmental crises, Seacology stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through passion, perseverance, and partnership. By empowering island communities, Seacology not only protects precious ecosystems but also enriches lives and preserves cultural heritage.

As we navigate the uncertain waters of the 21st century, organizations like Seacology remind us that the fate of our planet lies in our hands. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, we can safeguard the treasures of our islands and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

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