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Pierre-Yves Cousteau’s Children of the Sea

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I was a child the first time I saw the ocean. Standing on the sandy shore, the surf washed gently upon my feet. My mind and heart were immediately captured, dissolved into the blue vastness. I stood silently, absorbed and mindless, overwhelmed by the crashing of waves that echoed my own breathing. I entered the agitated waters. The force of this element bewildered me: pulling me in and pushing me out, offering no resistance to soft movements, yet countering force with hard crashing. For a moment I thought I had her laws figured out and began to play in her waves. The first one took me and threw me to the sandy bottom, pinning me there for what seemed to last forever, as the need to breathe became more urgent and daunting. Finally she released me, and I crawled back onto the shore, panting, exhilarated and confused. No, I had not figured her out, and she had shown me for the first time what fate she reserves to men who believe they do.

When I was nine years old, my father strapped a SCUBA tank to my back and took me diving for the first time. Like most people do, I panicked when I had to take off my mask for the first time. It was not sufficient that I could breathe in this unfamiliar environment; I had to see my surroundings in order to feel safe. Since then I have dived a thousand times, in almost every sea of the planet. Every time, my visceral connection to the ocean is strengthened. Every time, my intuitive understanding of the complex marine ecosystems is sharpened. And every time, about 35 minutes into the dive, I am submerged by a feeling of bliss and belonging that seems to whisper to my soul: “stay here”, as if a long evaporated drop of the sea had returned to visit, only for a while. A similar feeling to meeting a loved one who has passed away, in a dream. As if the truth in this life was not in separation, but in unity.

I am writing these lines from the sunny shores of Raja Ampat, to the far east of the Indonesian archipelago. Here, nature is lush and exuberant, both on land and beneath the mirroring surface of the sea. On my recent dives, I have recognized what I call the layered skins of the reef. Around the colorfully chaotic coral reefs, clouds of tiny fish expand and contract as larger predators zip by, like a heart, beating to a mysterious and unpredictable rhythm. Further out lies a concentric layer of larger fish, an interface between this ecosystem and the deep blue sea. Individuals who form this outer shell regularly migrate down to the reef, and then back to their school. I cannot help but to see this entire system as a living cell, with its living membrane and commuting proteins.

As I hunt for large predators with my underwater camera, I feel I can read these movements and have developed a sense of bio-intuition, which points me to where I am likely to encounter a passing manta ray, a shark, a turtle… and sometimes, nothing at all. Alone in the infinite blue, with no point of reference but the distant surface above me, I am insignificant, and I am home. I soon realize that I am not alone, as the strident song of unseen dolphins penetrates my bones. As I open my eyes to the microscopic particles around me, I discover a galaxy of living beings, oblivious to my bubbly presence, playing a crucial role as the primary producers of oxygen and biomass.

Finishing the dive, I return to the surface, tired and serene. Once again the ocean has dissolved my inner space and emptied my mind, filling my imagination with fleeting images of untamed beauty. Returning to the world of humans, I feel outraged by straight lines and perpendicular constructions of cold cement and steel, who rapidly drain my peace and dull my focus. Even here, far away from cities and roads, the beaches bear the scars of our legacy to future generations, all covered in plastic litter and debris.

In these last refuges of ocean wilderness, I have encountered not only the organisms and systems that keep us alive, but also the beauty and bewilderment that make us human. The ocean is an endless source of amazement and a constant reminder of humility. It has shaped our world for eons, nurtured our everyday lives, and inspired countless generations. Today, as the turbulent children of the sea that we are, we must find the ways to recognize our unbreakable bond, and to protect what must be, for our children and theirs.

www.cousteaudivers.org

For more blogs from Pierre-Yves Cousteau, visit cousteaudivers.wordpress.com.

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1

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Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.

We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.

Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.

There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.

We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt.  Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.

Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson.  Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.

A deserted Gatwick Airport at 0900 on 10 October

Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was.  Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.

Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment.  Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs.  The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.

Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.

Corey having a pre-flight temperature check

Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.

Two things to note:  If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive.  You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long.  It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through.  This means two days with no access to resort facilities.  If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.

COVID guidelines

Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements.  A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.

None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre.  Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.

Sterilised Dive Kit

We all felt very COVID secure.

Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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And the winner of our TUSA Paragon S Mask competition is…

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We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win a TUSA Paragon S Mask from our good friends at CPS Partnership!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Lee Evans from the UK.

Congratulations Lee – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on Scubaverse.com right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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