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Western Ecology Tour Expedition Report – North Wales

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Whilst in North Wales we were with Project Seagrass, and here we were aiming to shed some light on what is Seagrass, why it’s important and to show the amazing work that Project Seagrass is working on.

In order to help me get this message across in this blog, I collaborated with co-Scubaverse editor and collaborator Jake Davies, who heads Project Seagrass in North Wales, to give you an insight into Project Seagrass and what he did with us during the Expedition. I did this through a series of questions in which Jake has kindly provided the answers.

What is Project Sea Grass?

Project Seagrass was created in 2013 and is an environmental charity devoted to the conservation of seagrass ecosystems through education, influence, research and action. The charities mission is ‘To lead societal change to enable the recognition, recovery and resilience of seagrass ecosystems globally; that provide biodiversity, equitable and sustainable livelihoods, and planetary life support’.

Why is Sea Grass so important?

Seagrasses are flowering plants that live in shallow sheltered areas along our coast. These sensitive plants are different from seaweed and form bright green leaves. Similar to grass on land, seagrasses form large, dense meadows under the sea. These habitats provide important roles that include:

  • Carbon sequestration: taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing within the seabed below.
  • Production of oxygen
  • Increased diversity
  • Important nursery areas for a range of species including commercial species such as Cod and plaice
  • Coastal protection

What ways can people help Sea Grass?

There are many ways people can help seagrass both directly and indirectly.

People can help seagrass by raising awareness of the habitat through a range of different ways such as social media or attending a variety of different events. There are online tools such as the Seagrass spotter where you can upload your seagrass sighting (from anywhere in the world) to help better understand seagrass distributions. Where possible you can also volunteer with Project Seagrass to directly help with the project when opportunities arise.

Other ways you can help is by donating and purchasing merchandise created by Project Seagrass where money goes directly to seagrass conservation and support the range of projects that are lead by the charity in order to conserving Seagrass.

What did you hope to achieve with the WET Team?

Through the WET expedition I wanted to increase people’s knowledge of Seagrass meadows through taking them to a meadow and experiencing one first hand. Showing the team a meadow first hand was important as it was also the perfect location to show the incredible benefits that they provide. Along with increasing knowledge the expedition also raised funds which help the charity in progressing with its objectives.

With lots of videographers and photographers as part of the team, creating some engaging content was an element that we wanted to achieve during the visit to the meadow. The content could then be shared to provide further information and catch the eyes of social media users in order to engage more people with the importance of Seagrass meadows.

Has Expedition WET helped the project?

Expedition WET has directly helped Project Seagrass by raising funds that can be used to conserve seagrass meadows. Social media around the expedition will have also driven more social media traffic to the Project Seagrass accounts and website where viewers will have increased their knowledge about Seagrasses.

Which sites did you take the WET Team to visit and why?

The WET team had a day at the meadow in Porthdinllaen on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula. This meadow is one of the largest and densest off the Welsh coast and is also one of the sites which Project Seagrass monitoring through the Seagrass Watch programme. The meadow has also been a location for seed collections as part of the seagrass restoration project down in dale as part of the Seagrass Ocean Rescue Project.

Do you think the trip was a success and why?

The trip was successful as funds were raised for the Project Seagrass and the day at the meadows was thoroughly enjoyed by all. It was unfortunate the conditions weren’t the best as that would have provided the team with the full experience of a seagrass meadow. However, this is one of the challenges of UK diving/snorkeling conditions aren’t always perfect but you can only make the best of the situation that has been given which we certainly did that day.

Considering the conditions lots of engaging content was created and is continually shared by the expedition team which continues to spread the messaging about the importance of these incredible underwater habitats.


I’d like to thank Jake for collaborating with myself on the second entry of the Expedition WET’s Scubaverse blog and for guiding us when we were with you.

The North Wales leg started with the drive down from the highlands of Scotland, this took us the best part of 12 hours with a few brief stopovers to stretch our legs, the drive was once again beautiful after driving through the valleys. We arrived at the Porthdinllaen campsite at around 7pm, this campsite is located higher up above Porthdinllaen on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula, after arriving and familiarising ourselves we set up camp and got our Cameras ready for the days ahead. This is where we met Jake and Giovana who met us at camp to welcome us and tell us what is planned for the next few days. Once we’d been briefed we all ate and had an early night ready for the first day.

Day one in North Wales started with a mid-morning start after getting equipment together. The first day was a day of no diving but rather Snorkelling, the site down at Porthdinllaen wasn’t far, with it being around a 15-minute walk down the peninsula and over the Clwb Golff Nefyn Golf Club. Once we reached the beach, we had a briefing from Jake who explained why the site is so important to Project Seagrass, he also briefed us on Seagrass snorkeling etiquette and what to look out for amongst the blades of Seagrass. We headed out in two teams so half of the team could watch our equipment, this allowed members such as Felicity to get her drone in the air to take aerial shots of the Wet Team amongst the Seagrass. The visibility was poor but due to this it was decided that taking split shots were probably the best option as it would help show just how close to shore Seagrass can be found. Shots underwater did prove successful but as Jake mentioned earlier in his section of the blog this is one of the challenges of UK Snorkeling/Diving.

After returning from the Seagrass meadows myself and Jake drove over to see Chris Green at Tyn Rhos where we had all our Cylinders filled up.

The second day was spent at a nearby site called Porth Ysgaden, it’s a shallow site and is mentioned in the Top 100 British Shore Dives book by Anita Sherwood. It was decided that would be interesting to do a night dive because as we all know by now, the ocean has a whole new cast of animals and species come out under the cover of darkness. Before the night dive however it was decided that we would all do a daytime dive to survey the site and make ourselves familiar with it.

The first dive I was buddied with Jake who said we’d try and some Catsharks or as there otherwise known Dogfish. Porth Ysgaden isn’t a deep dive with an average depth being between 4-6 metres. And we did both dives during Slack tide where the water was at its highest and stillest. The visibility on the first dive wasn’t perfect but there was still a surplus of life found at the site from Snakelocks Anemones, Shore Crabs, Spider Crabs and Leopard Gobies with a few members of the group coming across a few Catsharks. After getting back to the vehicles we discussed meeting times for that evening as it was around a 10 hour wait for the tide to return to its highest point so that we could do a night dive. The team went back to camp to do some work for the expedition sponsors whilst Jake, Ollie and Andy went back down to Porthdinllaen to film some content for the final film.

After waiting for the tide to return the team headed back to Porth Ysgaden ready for the night dive, there was however a small delay on getting into the water as we happened to have chosen the day after the longest day of the year to do a night dive, so some members of the team decided to wait a little longer before getting in. Alex and I were buddied for this dive and were the last to get in the water, this site didn’t disappoint and is a truly spectacular night dive. Not only was there a lot of life at this site but in such huge numbers. Me and Alex had our cameras going the whole dive with mating Spider Crabs, Velvet swimming Crabs, marching lobsters, incredibly curious Fifteen-Spined Sticklebacks and a beautiful yellowish-Green Two-spined Scorpionfish who sat perfectly waiting for us to finish taking his photo. Other members of the team saw Catsharks with Ollie capturing some footage of one getting hit in the eye by a Sand Eel. Andy, Jake and Giovana saw what looked to be a European Eel.

After the final dive we ate some Scones under the final fading light as there was still some light in the sky at 11pm and then headed back to camp. We discussed what wed seen here in North Wales and what our move was for the next day to heading down to Pembrokeshire. Tune in next time for the final leg of the Western Ecology Tour and final entry of the Western Ecology Tour Expedition Report.

Donovan is a Divemaster who currently works as a Shark Diver at Blue Planet Aquarium based in Ellesmere Port. Donovan’s passion lies with Elasmobranch’s (Sharks & Rays) and this passion has led him to work in South Africa with White Sharks for a short period. He also believes that education through exposure is the best way to re-educate people about Sharks. Follow Donovan at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida

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Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.

The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.

The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”

The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.

Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Photo: www.avalon.red

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Dive Worldwide introduces three new resorts ahead of Go Diving Show

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Ahead of Go Diving (2-3 March, Stoneleigh Park), the leading scuba diving exhibition that marks the start of the dive season, Dive Worldwide has introduced three new resorts, each one set in a world class diving location. Among them is Coral Eye Resort in Indonesia, an eco-friendly island retreat with a welcoming community vibe where like-minded people get excited about the marine world and all its wonders.

Dive Worldwide has the largest programme in the UK of tailor-made and small group liveaboard and resort-based diving holidays to over 200 destinations worldwide, catering for beginners and experienced divers alike.

NEW RESORTS

Coral Eye Resort, Bangka Island, Indonesia

Founded as an outpost for marine studies, Coral Eye is a boutique resort on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra, which has been transformed into a diver’s paradise. Today Coral Eye, set in the heart of the Coral Triangle, attracts a community of visitors who share a passion for the sea. Its eco-friendly villas are designed to blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings.

From Coral Eye and the Coral Eye Dive Centre, it is possible to discover more than 30 world-class dive sites– each within 40 minutes of the beachfront dive centre – along with the fascinating volcanic topography and varied marine life around Bangka Island in North Sulawesi. From the beautiful house reef to steep coral-covered pinnacles, charming critters, turtles, and abundant reef fish, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Dives, up to four per day, are guided in groups of four by local guides with a wealth of experience and keen eyes.

Price: 9 nights at Coral Eye Resort from £2,775pp based on 2 sharing including Full board, transfer, 10 dives, tanks and weights

The Fives Beach Hotel and Residences, Mexico

This resort is an oceanfront haven where luxury meets adventure. Against a backdrop of lush greenery and a white sand coast in Playa del Carmen, The Fives Beach Hotel’s location in Riviera Maya provides access to a plethora of renowned dive sites, including the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and the world-famous Cenotes.  Within the resort is The Fives Dive Centre with its range of SSI courses, from beginner to advanced.  Guests can dive with eagle rays and look for a splendid toadfish in Cozumel. Puerto Morelos has such a cool vibe above the water, but below the surface the National Park is also the best the Caribbean has to offer.

With a diverse range of accommodation, choose from stylish rooms with balconies to vibrant suites and oceanfront residences providing more privacy and a panorama of the Caribbean Sea. Beyond diving, guests can indulge in the hotel’s array of restaurants, relax with a cocktail by one of the hotel’s seven outdoor pools, explore the vibrant local culture at the nearby Mayan ruins or enjoy the hotel’s numerous cultural offerings.

Price: 7 nights at The Fives Beach Hotel and Residences costs from £3,145pp based on 2 sharing, all inclusive, including 8 ocean dives and 2 cenotes dives, tanks, weights and transfers

Aventuras Club – Mexico

Located in Puerto Aventuras, these stylish marina and lagoon view apartments, each with tasteful Caribbean interiors, are the perfect location for an ocean and Cenotes diving adventure. The 19 marina apartments offer views over the marina, while eight luxury lagoon apartments overlook a private bay in the lagoon and benefit from a small private beach and a swimming pool.

Diving the magical caves and passages of the world-famous Cenotes in Mexico is conducted with Maya Blue Dive Centre while ocean dives are provided through a local dive centre. The Mesoamerican reef system along the Riviera Maya is home to colourful coral gardens and marine life aplenty, providing an exciting and varied week of diving experiences including plenty of hawksbill turtle encounters.  Travel between June and September and add in a snorkelling trip to see the incredible gathering of whale sharks around Holbox Island or Isla Mujeres.

Price: The Cenotes & Reefs dive trip costs from £2,095pp based on 2 sharing including  7 nights at Aventuras Club, 6 ocean dives, 2 Cenotes dives, Tanks and weights and transfers.

For further information visit Dive Worldwide (diveworldwide.com, 01962 302087).

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