This week, marine conservation charity the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) was shocked to find not one but two turtles severely hurt as a result of human activity.
One of the charity’s volunteers – Genaye Domenico – was scuba diving with Peri-Peri Divers in Tofo Beach, Mozambique, when they came across a juvenile hawksbill turtle caught in plastic. Genaye and Peri-Peri dive instructor Helen Armstrong worked together to quickly free the turtle and release it back to the ocean.
Soon after, they found a loggerhead sea turtle – still alive – with a speargun piercing its neck. They carefully took hold of the injured turtle and were able to remove the spear. Luckily, the spear didn’t seem to have pierced any vital organs and, once returned to the ocean free of the painful spear, the turtle dived down and swam away.
Marine Megafauna Foundation volunteer Genaye Domenico, 30, who was on the boat, said: “Today, while on the way back in from my dive with Peri-Peri Divers, we spotted a juvenile hawksbill turtle tangled in a plastic woven bag which we cut loose. Quickly after, we found a young loggerhead sea turtle with a spear through its neck. We were able to grab the loggerhead, lift it into the boat and secure the turtle while we awaited a second boat to deliver us wire cutters, as the spear was fully attached to the spear gun. Wire cutters were delivered, the spear was cut, pulled through the neck, and the loggerhead was released to the sea. Both turtles, after being helped, immediately dove deep into the sea. The spear has been given to the police.”
The area’s Community Fisheries Council (CCP) – represented in this situation by Mr. Songane – and coastal police were quick to respond, taking the speargun into evidence and launching an investigation.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, loggerhead turtles are currently listed as vulnerable and hawksbill turtles are critically endangered. These horrific images highlight how not only plastic but other human activities threaten these beautiful but endangered creatures.
Jess Williams, Marine Conservation Biologist and Director of Tartarugas Para o Amanhã/ Mozturtles, said: “Despite legal protection for sea turtles within Mozambique, illegal take is still widespread. Small scale fisheries (SSF) are extensive throughout coastal waters along Mozambique’s entire 2,700 km coastline, which happens to be the habitat for five of the seven species of sea turtles. Sadly, targeted hunting by spear-fishers and opportunistic by-catch is an ongoing problem and we believe hunting pressures on sea turtles may be increasing.”
According to Mozturtles, October to February is nesting season for loggerhead turtles from Bazaruto Archipelago south to Ponta do Ouro Marine Partial Reserve. During this time, there is likely to be an increase of loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) moving into coastal waters to lay their eggs as they migrate back into the area.
“It’s particularly concerning to see animals in this life-stage facing threats such as targeted hunting, bycatch or entanglement,” Williams continued. “Turtles reach maturity around 20-30 years of age and each female lays approximately four nests in the season so mature individuals being removed from the breeding stock causes significant problems to turtle populations. It’s crucial that efforts are made to accurately quantify the impacts of SSF here in Mozambique, and in other countries in the region, to enable us to accurately understand the scale of the threat to sea turtles at a regional level.”
Mariana Coelho, MMF’s Mozambique Country Director, said: “We were all shocked and saddened to find these two injured turtles in the bay within minutes of each other. Thanks to the quick responses of the volunteers and staff on the boat, these beautiful animals were able to be rescued and released back into the ocean. We expect they will now visit a cleaning station to prevent infection in their open wounds and hope both animals will recover fully.
Coelho continued: “It’s important to remember that acts like this, while shocking, are driven by extreme poverty. That’s why MMF is working to raise awareness among the local community about the importance of marine conservation as well as helping fisher families to find new, sustainable ways of generating a livelihood. We hope the police will be successful in their mission to find out who can be held accountable, that the community continues their incredible efforts in changing harmful habits and appeal to the general public for support in our work to protect our oceans from acts such as these.”
MMF works with the local community in Tofo, and neighboring communities, to help them improve sustainable fishing practices and ocean conservation. The charity’s vision is a world in which marine life and humans thrive together and they aspire to attain it by saving threatened marine life.
Photo credit: Helen Armstrong, Peri-Peri Divers
For more information about MMF and how you can support, please visit their website by clicking here.
Introducing the Cinebags Dome Port Case CB74
The CB74 is made of a heavy duty tarpaulin fabric with padded sidewalls to protect your dome port in your dive luggage. The oversized zippers allow for quick easy access to the port pouch.
- heavy duty tarpaulin fabric
- padded sidewalls
- oversized zippers
- mesh pouch for accessories
- mesh pouch to store port cover
- neoperene carry handle
The CB74 Dome Port and other CineBags Underwater Products are available through the dedicated underwater dealer network.
For more information visit the Cinebags website by clicking here.
When is it a good day to dive?
By Rick Peck
The standard answer is “It’s always a good day to dive.” The real question is: When is it a day we should not dive?
There are several factors that go into a decision for a dive day.
- Tides (if applicable)
- Physical condition
- Mental condition
- Water visibility
We would all like to dive in bright sunny conditions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. It is always a good idea to check the forecast before a dive day. The weather directly before a dive might be bright and sunny, but in some areas, thunderstorms roll in quickly. While it may be an interesting experience to see a lightning storm underwater with the strobe effect, we do have to come up sometime. A 30+ pound lightning rod strapped to your back makes for a very dangerous exit.
Wind is also a concern. Storms that roll in quickly can bring gust fronts that make for dangerous conditions. It could be flat and calm when you enter, and you may ascend after the dive into 5-6 foot chop with a dangerous exit onto the boat. Having a boat drop on your head or getting tangled in the ladder is not fun.
Waves and Tides
Shore diving in a coastal area makes waves a concern. Waves are generated by wind speed, duration and fetch. If there is a storm offshore you could be seeing big waves with very little wind in your area. Linked to the wave action is the tide. At some sites, waves tend to fizzle out at extreme high tide, making for easier entry and exits.
Tides can also affect your dive in an inlet. There is a popular dive site in my area that normally dives from a half-hour before high tide to a half-hour after high tide because of the current generated by the tidal change. The tidal currents can become so strong that an average diver can’t overcome them. The question is: does the tide change match the time you have available to dive? Your local dive shop should have recommendations on where and when is the best time to shore dive. As we learned in our Open Water class, local knowledge is the best.
Are you healthy enough to dive? Do you have the physical conditioning to safely do the dive you are planning? Pushing your physical limits directly after a cold or allergy attack could lead to an ear injury or worse. If you have been sick, maybe you don’t have the energy reserves to rescue yourself or a buddy if required. The typical “Oh, I’ll be alright” could put not only you but your dive buddy at risk as well. Don’t let your ego write checks that your body can’t fulfill.
You could compare diving to driving a car. We have all heard of distracted driving. If you are mentally upset or dealing with a great deal of stress, it might be prudent to evaluate whether it’s a good day to dive. Frustration and an urgency to get into the water to “relax” could mean you are skipping items on your buddy checks and self-checks. Unless you have the mental discipline to set these worries aside, it is probably better to dive another day.
While there is a segment of the diving population that likes to “Muck Dive,” in general we prefer to see what is around us. One type of diving where visibility is important is drift diving. It is a two-fold problem, if you stay shallow enough to avoid obstructions, you can’t see anything. If you go deep enough to see the bottom, depending on the speed of the current, there is a possibility of being driven into a coral head or some other obstruction that you don’t see approaching. It is also much easier to become separated from your buddy. Remember to discuss and set a lost buddy protocol before the dive.
While it seems like all the stars and moon must align in order to safely dive, it’s really simple. Check the weather, check the tides (If applicable), do a self-assessment, and don’t be reluctant to cancel a dive if the conditions warrant it when you arrive at the dive site. A little planning and forethought will lead to a safe enjoyable dive. Always remember to dive within the limits of your training, conditioning, and skill set.
To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.
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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue. With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after.
Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life. The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.
£1475 per person based on double occupancy. Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available. Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp. Flights and transfers are included. See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.
This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place. Come Dive with Us!
Call 020 3515 9955 or email email@example.com
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