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SSI Sea Survival Course Initiative

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SSI pleased to support the RNLI and BDSG (British Divers Safety Group) in the Sea Survival Course initiative.

SSI launched their program with a Train The Trainer event and a combined Diver / Lifeboat training exercise at the RNLI College in Poole on the 13th June 2018. SSI want this course to be something more than just another teaching specialty rating that instructors hold but never use; they want them to get their students out diving and introduce them to some of the great coastal locations that they have here in the UK.

This event was designed to give SSI Trainers and Instructors a greater insight into what is involved in ensuring the best possible outcome in different diver emergency situations. As well as being presented with the course outline and teaching materials, candidates participated in workshops on effective teaching techniques for the practical elements of the program. They were also given valuable information from the RNLI and MCA (Marine Coastguard Agency) staff who were involved and participated on the day. They can now share this knowledge and experience with their own students and when co-teaching new SSI Sea Survival Instructors. The SSI Sea Survival program although initiated in the UK will be available to SSI instructors worldwide.

Train the trainer day with Scuba Schools International and hosted by the RNLI at headquarters in Poole. The day involved a diver search and recovery exercise with the Swanage Shannon and D-class lifeboats, as well as the poole Atlantic 85 and D-class inshore lifeboats. Community Safety, prevention, Respect the Water.

The main aim of the program is to provide the student with the information and skills required to enjoy and dive safely in UK costal conditions. It is ideally suited to those making their first UK sea dives and divers who have learnt whilst on holiday overseas who would like to get involved in UK costal diving. The course covers dive planning including predicting tides and weather to make sure you have the best dive opportunities, the equipment required for UK costal diving an optional confined water session and two dives that include skills review and new skills that could save your life if you should end up needing to be assisted by the RNLI or other rescue services.

The training exercises completed on the day, as well as providing experience for the dive professionals, were a big learning opportunity for the crews of the Swanage and Poole Lifeboats. They highlighted some of the difficulties and challenges of extracting a kitted conscious and unconscious diver from the water into the different vessels used. Whilst de-kitting and exiting in to a small rib may be common place for divers, for some of the crewmembers a real situation may be the first time they have encountered dive equipment. We would recommend all dive centres and clubs work closely with their local RNLI stations to offer joint training opportunities, many of those involved in the day are already liaising with their local stations to run lifeboat crew training exercises alongside their Sea Survival programs.


SSI would like to acknowledge Swanage Boat Charters and Bryan for the use of the charter boat Viper for the practical exercises.

All images by: Nathan Williams RNLI

For more information about SSI please visit their website by clicking here.

For more information about the RNLI please visit their website by clicking here.

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Protecting England’s Wreck Sites: Site Security Protocols Launched

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The security of heritage assets is of the utmost importance; a monetary value cannot be attached to the significance of a site or its associated artefacts. This statement is true for both on land and underwater sites.

The policing of underwater sites however, is often a trickier affair, with out-of-sight often equalling out-of-mind. Unfortunately, a site’s underwater location does not stop thieves from stealing or damaging artefacts.

To aid in the protection of our underwater cultural heritage, a selection of sites of historical, artistic and archaeological importance have been protected by law under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/protected-wreck-sites/). Historic England manage these sites on behalf of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, Digital and Sport (DCMS), and a team of Licensees, effectively voluntary custodians, play a key role in their ongoing management.

The licensees work tirelessly on the wrecks and have had a special relationship with them since the very first days of the Protection of Wrecks Act. If it wasn’t for them, many of the sites would still be unknown and we would have very little knowledge of many of the existing sites. Their presence on the sites acts as a deterrent to anyone thinking of accessing the sites illegally and their monitoring ensures that the sites are understood and enjoyed by many people.

To further aid in the physical protection of these significant sites, Historic England funded a partnership project between the Protected Wreck Association (PWA https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/) and MSDS Marine (https://msdsmarine.com/). This national-level project has seen the development of Site Security Plans for protected wreck sites. The model developed is based on the highly successful model developed by Ron Howell and the SWMAG team who are Licensees for the Salcombe Cannon and Moor Sands protected wreck sites.

A Site Security Plan is the end result of a process which assesses how secure a site is from illegal access. By completing two very easy to use but highly specialised forms, the site is given:

  • Its own Site Security Champion
  • Its own Heritage Crime Officer in the Police
  • A level of risk of heritage crime occurring to enable appropriate response to be put in place and to allow targeting of resources
  • Quick win opportunities to decrease its level of risk
  • A protocol for the licensees to follow every time they access the site
  • Specialist guidelines to enable crime reporting to enforcement authorities
  • A toolkit consisting of: A High Vis vest, to help identify the Site Security Champion to the public / authorities and pocket-sized card, summarising guidance on reporting crimes.

The project team will be supporting Licensees and their teams in completing a Site Security Plan and Risk Assessment for each Protected Wreck Site. MSDS Marine will be contacting Licensees inviting them to book a slot to work through the process. Individual Licensees and teams can also follow the guidance to complete the documents on their own with MSDS Marine on hand to support as required.

The Site Security Forms are accessible on the Protected Wreck Association website, in the members only area https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/members-area/site-security/ . If you are not a member and would like to join, this is an excellent time, as its free!

Assessing the security of a wreck site will inform Historic England of any sites which are at a high risk of heritage crime, and aid them in the future management of these sites. It will assist Licensees in highlighting areas for concern and in turn offer positive actions that can be taken to reduce the threat. It is hoped that the scheme will help put practical measures in place to ensure that the sites are protected from illegal activity in future.

Alison James, Project Manager at MSDS Marine said: “I spent ten years working at Historic England managing England’s protected wreck sites and at times was incredibly frustrated by being unable to ‘police’ the sites. The model we have developed is based on the highly successful model developed by SWMAG which has been shown to work on a number of occasions. We hope this will make a real difference to the sites and the teams that work on them.”

Professor Mike Williams, Chair of the Protected Wreck Association said: “We are delighted and grateful that Historic England has funded this project. It will enable us to undertake valuable work to support our members, who are dedicated volunteers protecting our maritime heritage.”

Hefin Meara, Marine Archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are pleased to support this important project and recognise the enormous contribution that licensed volunteer divers are making to help protect England’s fascinating marine historic environment.”

For more information please visit www.ProtectedWrecks.org.uk , www.MSDSMarine.co.uk, and www.historicengland.org.uk.

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Take an immersive dive below the waves off the Welsh coast using 360 VR: Seagrass Meadows (Watch Video)

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A week-long series from Jake Davies…

Below the waves off the Welsh coast, there are a range of species and habitats that can be seen. However, you don’t have to venture too far from the shore to see them or don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Using 360 videos provides an immersive feeling of being below the water and encountering many species and habitats from diving one of the most important habitats and species that aren’t often seen whilst diving. For more of an experience of being below the waves, the VR videos can be viewed using a VR headset.

Take a calming VR dive at one of the largest and densest seagrass meadow found along the Welsh coast, located at Porthdinllaen in North West Wales.

Seagrass meadows are important habitats as they provide a range of ecosystem services from carbon sequestration, production of Oxygen, coastal protection and act as a nursery area for many commercial fish species such as plaice and cod. Seagrass also help to improve water quality within the region as seagrass blades (leaves) help to trap particles within the water column, often making them great sites to dive in at due to increased visibility.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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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 john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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