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Sharks, sharks, and more sharks

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Fin and I have had a very busy October. The Great White Shark activity has been incredible and I’ve manged to capture some amazing footage. Not only was I lucky enough to witness an attempted predation on the first day of October, but I was then visited by the escapee seal when he used our boat as refuge. He even tried to swim into the cage at one point but couldn’t get between the bars. I made a wee video about the seal’s escapade:

The white sharks around the White Shark Africa cage diving boat have been showing us and our clients a great time. There’s been lots of breaching, plus plenty of curiosity shown towards the cage divers and my GoPro. It’s made for some incredible footage, like the stills shown here:

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My personal favourite is having a young shark come close enough to be able to capture her blue iris. Most people believe a white shark’s eye is black, but they are actually blue:

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Another shark decided to high five my GoPro:

https://vine.co/v/e2Pj91UTmDM

While I was busy capturing the underwater footage of these stunning sharks swimming by, one shark breached fully out of the water just a few meters away from me with no obvious target. It was possibly avoiding another shark, but unfortunately my GoPro was turned away from it so we’ll never know for sure.

As well as amazing activity from the real sharks, Fin, has been meeting lots of important South Africans to spread our Keep Fin Alive campaign message. We hit the airwaves over the weekend to talk about the aims of the campaign on a local radio station called Suidkaap FM and Fin had a photoshoot with the DJs plus Emo Adams, one of South Africa’s biggest stars. He was also in a photoshoot with Algoa FM DJs, a popular national radio station.

Very exciting news for me is that I have just been confirmed to head up a schools programme we’re calling ‘Mossel Bay Shark Week’ where I’ll be talking to all the schools in the area about sharks in back-to-back visits over a week, with an emphasis on the issues facing sharks and their importance to our oceans and planet. Fin will be accompanying me to engage the kids in the Keep Fin Alive campaign, and I’ll be running the programme as part of my ambassador role with Sarasota Fins, a shark education and conservation program aiming to mold a new generation of shark advocates. Kids play a vital role in ensuring the future of our oceans and by engaging with them at an early age, they grow up knowing the impact of their actions and how to prevent sharks and other marine species from becoming extinct.

To get involved in the ‘Keep Fin Alive’ campaign is easy. Just visit our campaign pages, like and share…
www.facebook.com/keepfinalive
www.twitter.com/FinHugger

Esther Jacobs is a shark conservationist, originally from Scotland, now living in South Africa working with sharks and other marine life. Esther works with Oceans Research, a marine research facility in Mossel Bay, South Africa. She also runs a shark conservation campaign called Keep Fin Alive, which features a handpuppet shark called Fin, who is on a mission to be photographed with as many people as possible holding a sign that says “I hugged a shark and I liked it… Keep Fin Alive”. He’s already been photographed with lots of celebrities and scientists. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to take a light-hearted approach to help change the common misconception of sharks and drive more attention to the problems of shark overfishing, finning, shark fishing tournaments, bycatch and longlining.

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TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 2

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Day three of my trip to Somabay and we were spending the day on the Lady Christina and diving on the wreck of the Salem Express.

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Diving wrecks for me is always one of mixed emotions. The excitement of diving a wreck is more than often tempered by the thought of loss of life when she sank. The Salem Express was a passenger ship and a roll-on/roll-off ferry travelling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Safaga, Egypt. Most passengers were of poor class travelling home from their holidays while around 150 people were returning home from their pilgrimage to Mecca.

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The ship struck a reef and sank within 20 minutes. Passengers were trapped below deck and the ship was filled with fear and panic.

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The wreck area is strewn with personal belongings from the crew and passengers such as a transistor radio and a flat iron for clothes. A diver at sometime has put them in a prominent place to be seen.

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Tragically only one life boat was launched while the others went down with the ship. More than 600 men, women and children lost their lives here.

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It’s a stark reminder that the sea can be unforgiving and so when we dive on such wrecks we should do so with humble regard.

Returning to the surface, shoals of fish are gathered under our boat and seem to be welcoming us back into the light.

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Back at the Breakers I sat in the dining area with a beer and a very good meal while my thoughts still remained with the day’s dive on the Salem Express.

Check in for part 3 tomorrow for Jeff’s last day of diving with Somabay on the off-shore reefs looking for turtles.

Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 1

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somabay

For a week at the end of February I was invited to sample the diving with Orca Dive Club based at the Breakers Diving and Surfing Lodge by courtesy of SOMABAY.

Somabay covers an entire peninsula and is home to several resorts as well as residential  compounds. Somabay caters for scuba diving as well as many other sports, including windsurfing, golf, sailing, go-carting, horse riding and many other activities.

All the activities are of a world-class standard and any or all of these can be booked directly from The Breakers.

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I took Easyjet from Bristol (UK) to Hurghada. Easyjet are not by any means my favourite airline but the flight was cheap and direct (except for the surprise extra £48 I was charged at the gate for my carry-on bag).

I was met at Hurghada airport by a driver and car and taken to the Breakers 28 miles (45Kilomaters) south along the coast. Once at the hotel I was too late for an evening meal and so a basic meal was delivered to my room. That and a beer from the fridge and I was fast asleep.

Early the next morning after breakfast I arrived for my rep meeting at the Orca Dive Center for 8.00am. I was immediately made to feel welcome, and after brief introductions I got some dive gear from the store, had a chat with my dive guide Mohamed and got ready to try the house reef situated at the end of a very long wooded pier where all diving gear and divers are taken out by buggies.

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Once at the end of the pier, a helping hand from staff makes sure your gear is set and then it’s a short walk to the very end where you can either climb down a ladder of simply jump in the water  next to the reef. The house reef extends both north and south giving a very easy and safe dive with plenty to see. At this time of the year the water temperature was a constant 22 degrees Centigrade and there was little or no current, so there were no issues in swimming back to the pier.

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Quite a few divers were in dry or semi-dry suits, but being from the UK and used to the cold I found a 3mm wetsuit with a 3mm neoprene vest quite comfortable. Even after 50 years of diving I still find that first dive of a trip slightly nerving until I am actually underwater and then all becomes relaxed and I ease into auto diving mode. There was plenty to see with many of the Red Sea favourites along the way.

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After the dive and a buggy ride back to the hotel for a very good buffet lunch I was back in the water, once again on the house reef for an afternoon dive.

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Check in for part 2 tomorrow when Jeff gets on a day boat and dives a few of the off-shore reefs.

Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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