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Petra: Stepping back in time in the Rose City

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Scubaverse blogger Sean Chinn continues his travels in Jordan with a trip to iconic Petra.

It’s no great secret that Petra is Jordan’s most famous and most visited tourist attraction. Classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, it is the perfect addition to any dive trip. Take a day off from diving and step back in time to around 300 B.C. visiting the ancient carvings in the pink sandstone cliffs. Be blown away by the intricate details in the architecture and the sheer size of the cliffs that tower above.

It takes around two hours to drive from Aqaba to Petra, but after an early rise to make the most of a full days tour, it’s enough time to rest your eyes and re-energise. As you get closer to Petra, the journey through the desert becomes more scenic and there is a chance to stop for refreshments at a roadside tourist shop with panoramic views over the canyon – Wadi Araba View. It was a breathtaking sight, reminiscent of when I stood and looked over the Grand Canyon five years ago. From there it was a short journey down the mountain to the entrance to Petra.

Unfortunately, I have to admit we hit a big crowd on our trip due to a cruise ship mooring that morning and a number of guests opting to visit Petra on their stay. I was a little worried that this could put a dampener on the day but luckily it’s quite a long walk through Al-Siq (a narrow canyon carved through the sandstone cliffs) of around 1.2km. This meant that the crowds had chance to spread out the more you ventured inside. We took our time to allow more chance to really get a feel for the beauty that surrounded us on our walk. The Siq is a natural geological fault split apart by tectonic forces. It was only later that it was worn smooth by water that flowed into Wadi Musa. The textures created in the sandstone gorge from this are an absolute marvel to behold.

Al-Siq serves as the gateway to Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), one of the most elaborate temples carved out of a sandstone rock face in Petra. No words can truly describe the feeling that you get when your eyes first witness the carvings through the narrow canyon walls. The phrase ‘it takes your breath away’ is used far too easily but in this instance I did take a little gasp as I composed myself to take a photo.

It’s a lot bigger than you imagine and towers high in the cliff face. The craftsmanship that went into building it beggars belief, especially in a time without the modern technology we take for granted today. You can tell it’s the site in Petra that most go to see and the crowds that seemed to disperse as we walked through Al-Siq had now gathered under this amazing sight.

I’d love to visit again at a quieter time and plan my trip to see Petra by night lit up with thousands of candles. I also didn’t get the chance to take the longer walk to The Monastery, which is around an hour’s climb north of Petra’s city centre. Certainly something I would have liked to have done given more time on my trip.

Petra truly is an amazing wonder of the world and well worth a visit as part of your dive holiday. If historical, cultural attractions and sheer, beautiful landscapes are of major interest to you, then I would even recommend staying overnight in Petra and taking your time over a two day tour. That way, you really get chance to explore everything and immerse yourself in the magic. Something I may consider on my next visit to Jordan.

Sean Chinn’s scuba diving adventure started in a freezing cold quarry back in January 2011. Maybe the reason he wasn't instantly hooked! However, after an amazing trip to Indonesia in 2013, he realised he needed to see more of the underwater world. With no photography background, he enlisted some help in developing both his diving and photo skills. This kickstarted his diving and underwater photography adventure which has become something of an addiction. Seeing and photographing wildlife is Sean’s real passion in diving but he is always keen to try new ideas.

Marine Life & Conservation

PADI and Circular Flow Partner to Pursue Sustainable Neoprene Recycling Programme

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Trial Launches in the UK to Prove Feasibility and Scalability

PADI® is bringing about positive change for our shared blue planet through their partnership with Circular Flow. The goal is to create a closed loop neoprene recycling programme to foster a dive economy that aims to reduce the global impact of old and discarded wetsuits within the dive industry.

An estimated 8,380 tons of old wetsuits lie unused every year, with the majority inevitably headed for landfill thanks to the popularity of thermal protection in water sports, coupled with the lack of scalable, sustainable recycling systems for neoprene.

Recognising the opportunity for innovation, PADI, in partnership with Circular Flow, aims to offer the dive industry effective and sustainable solutions to the problem of disposing of wetsuits and other non-biodegradable neoprene products. The goal is to keep them out of landfills and recycle them into useful products such as mask straps and changing mats. To ensure feasibility and determine global scalability, the initiative will begin with a test in the UK.

“PADI is committed to help reduce the global environmental footprint of the dive industry and support our members and divers to reduce impact as well,” says Drew Richardson, CEO and President of PADI Worldwide. “We are constantly looking for new and scalable ways to do so through our Mission Hubs across the planet. We are proud to introduce and test this ground-breaking recycling programme into our community, enabling every diver to recycle neoprene as part of being an Ocean Torchbearer.”

During the initial trial, divers can bring their clean and dry wet suits and other neoprene items to participating UK Dive Centres from August 11th – August 22nd. PADI and Circular Flow will then arrange for the free collection of the items for recycling.  Circular Flow will implement an innovative process to recycle the neoprene, after shipping the neoprene to a specialised factory. The patented recycling process eliminates the use of chemicals or water and utilising electricity, pressure and heat.

To learn more about the programme or locate a place to drop off your end-of-life neoprene in the UK, visit circularflow.net/padi

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DAN Founder Peter Bennett has passed away

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Peter Bennett, PhD, DSc, passed away on Tuesday in the company of his wife, Margaret, and son, Chris. Bennett was a passionate researcher and entrepreneur who founded Divers Alert Network in 1980 and led the organization for 23 years.

Born in Portsmouth, England, on June 12, 1931, Bennett studied chemistry and biology at the University of London, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1951. After university he worked at the Royal Navy Physiological Laboratory and in 1964 earned his doctorate in physiology and biochemistry from the University of Southampton.

Bennett loved diving medicine and physiology and was a charter member of the Undersea Medical Society at its founding in 1967. He was later its president (1975-1976), the editor of its journal (1976-1979), and its executive director (beginning in 2007).

In 1972 Bennett moved to the United States, where he was first named deputy director and later director of the F.G. Hall Laboratory hyperbaric chamber facility at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In 1980, Bennett submitted a proposal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for a grant to fund an emergency hotline for injured divers. Thus Bennett and his colleagues at Duke undertook responsibility for the hotline that would eventually grow and become Divers Alert Network.

During his 23-year tenure at the helm of DAN, Bennett oversaw introduction of the organization’s membership program, dive accident insurance program, research department, continuing medical education program, training department, and more.

An emeritus professor of anesthesiology at Duke University, Bennett published more than 100 journal publications, 31 book chapters, and several books, including Physiology and Medicine of Diving, a definitive work in the field. He also published numerous reports, workshop proceedings, and abstracts. Among his areas of interest were trimix, deep stops, and high-pressure nervous syndrome.

Over the years Bennett received many awards, including the 1980 NOGI Award for Sciences by the Underwater Society of America. He also received recognition from DEMA, SSI, the Underwater Society of America, the National Academy of Scuba Educators, NAUI, the British Historical Diving Society, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and many others.

“In founding DAN, Dr. Bennett accomplished something truly remarkable,” said DAN president and CEO Bill Ziefle. “It is because of his vision and action that divers all over the world now have the support of an organization that stands ready to assist in the event of an emergency. Dr. Bennet’s inquisitive mind and drive to achieve were gifts to divers everywhere.”

“Peter Bennett dedicated his life to the advancement of diving,” said DAN medical director Jim Chimiak, MD. “Few equal his combined accomplishments as a researcher, organizer, and leader in diving medicine. He will remain a profound influence on everyone working in this increasingly important area of human endeavor. He displayed an infectious, pioneering spirit that rallied expert, worldwide collaborations that routinely accomplished the impossible. He was a great mentor and friend who will be truly missed.”   

Join the DAN community or learn more at www.DAN.org.

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