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Whale Sanctuary Project to Create Seaside Sanctuary for Whales and Dolphins

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WASHINGTON, DC – It’s the dawn of a new era for whales and dolphins retired by entertainment facilities or unlikely to thrive in the wild, thanks to a new, independent organization with plans to establish a model seaside sanctuary.

Launched this month with generous support from Munchkin, Inc., The Whale Sanctuary Project is creating a seaside sanctuary where cetaceans – whales, dolphins, and porpoises – can live permanently in an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible and with full support for their well-being.

Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent animals who have complex social lives, and public opinion is increasingly opposed to keeping them captive in concrete tanks. The new non-profit fields a team of experts in marine mammal science and behavior, veterinary medicine, husbandry, engineering, law and policy, to lay the groundwork for the creation of permanent cetacean sanctuaries. This all-star team is tasked with producing a viable plan for construction and management of a North American sanctuary, and to select the most suitable location to ensure a better future for captive cetaceans.

The new non-profit organization is headed by Dr. Lori Marino, executive director of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, Dr. Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute, and David Phillips, co-founder and executive director of Earth Island Institute and director of the International Marine Mammal Project.

“There are sanctuaries for other large, highly social, and wide-ranging mammals, including elephants and great apes, but there are none anywhere in the world yet for dolphins and whales,” said Marino, a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior and cognition formerly on the faculty of Emory University. “Cetacean sanctuary initiatives are long overdue, and we now have the best possible team of experts to ensure an optimal quality of life and care for individual cetaceans.”

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The planned sanctuary will primarily serve orcas, belugas and dolphins endemic to colder waters who are retired from entertainment facilities, and injured or ill animals rescued from the ocean. Rescued animals may be rehabilitated and returned to the wild, but those retired from the entertainment industry, who have never known life in the wild, are considered unlikely candidates for release and so would be given lifetime care. The sanctuary would be open to the public on a regularly scheduled basis, in a manner that avoids disturbing the animals, and would offer comprehensive conservation and education programs.

The Whale Sanctuary Project has received an initial donation of $200,000 from Munchkin, Inc., an award-winning, global baby product company. Munchkin, Inc. previously launched its “Orcas Live in Oceans” campaign to raise awareness of the plight of captive whales, and removed the orca toy from its popular bath toy collection. The company has also pledged a total of at least $1 million toward completion of the project.

“Munchkin has long favored a natural coastal ocean sanctuary as an alternative solution to maintaining orcas in captivity, so we are eager to support The Whale Sanctuary Project’s efforts on behalf of cetaceans retired from the entertainment industry,” said Steven Dunn, CEO and founder of Munchkin. “We are dedicated not only to these majestic mammals, but also to helping parents and children understand what they can do to help orcas and others live the rest of their lives happily and safely.”

Funds from Munchkin will be used for an extensive site search, which involves studying the unique geographic, oceanographic and anthropogenic conditions of a number of possible coastal locations, and a strategic plan for building and operating the sanctuary as well as transport and care of the first animals.

Staff, board members and advisors of The Whale Sanctuary Project represent some of the world’s most experienced scientists, clinicians, engineers, attorneys, business experts, and marine animal advocates. They include biologists, wildlife veterinarians, zoologists, university researchers and former trainers from marine animal parks.

For more information, visit www.whalesanctuaryproject.org.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Gear News

Jeff chats to… Sean Webb, Director of O’Three, about diving in the UK and the O’Three brand

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Sean Webb, Director of O’Three, the well-known UK-based manufacturer of custom drysuits and wetsuits.

After a bath time quarrel with his sister, Sean’s Mum taught him a lesson.

She held his head underwater for what she thought was long enough for that lesson to sink in (We are talking the mid 60’s here), but the lesson learned wasn’t the one that was intended. It was then that Sean realized he was comfortable, in or under the water. He was six.

The coasts of Devon and Dorset became his playground. 17 years later, with a trip around the world and some incredible diving under his belt, Sean Webb founded O’Three.

Now in its 32nd  year, O’Three has evolved from a business with roots that are unashamedly rooted in UK diving, to a niche brand being enjoyed all over the world by discerning recreational, technical and commercial divers alike.

Find out more at www.othree.co.uk


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Cool Drysuit Dives

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In the mood for a snowy holiday when you can get back into the water? Why not get back to your favourite underwater sport instead of hitting the slopes like everyone else? Check these incredible dive sites and explore a new underwater world in your drysuit!

Rummu Quarry, Estonia

The quirkiest and spookiest ice diving site in Europe is only 45 minutes driving from the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. Rummu Quarry used to be a limestone mining site and a prison. When the excavation labour ceased in the 1990s, pumps that kept the quarry dry were shut down. Soon water started flooding the entire site. After the prison closed in 2012, Rummu became an adventure centre where you can practice different outdoor sports including diving in the crystal-clear waters of the quarry and explore the sunken ruins of the prison. Diving in Rummu Quarry is also available in the winter, making it a one-of-a-kind ice diving spot. Will you dare to do it?

Who to Dive With:

Adventurecenter Rummu

PADI 5 Star Center

Sireli Tanav 11, Harju Maakond, Rummu Quarry, Estonia 76102

+372 588 733 78

info@barrakuuda.ee

White Sea, Russia

Image by Viktor Lyagushkin

If diving in frozen lakes, which have almost no aquatic life, is not exciting enough for you, Russia is the place to go to practice marine ice diving. At the level of the Arctic Circle, the White Sea is the only sea that freezes in winter as all other places are warmed up by the Gulf Stream. Leaving from the shores of the region of Karelia, between St Petersburg and the border of Finland, you can go ice diving from December to April. In addition to impressive ice formations, you can also enjoy on the rocky sea-bed a surprise abundant marine fauna with soft coral, starfish, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins and sea anemones. An important point to remember, salt-water freezes at -1.8°C!

Who to Dive With:

Arctic Circle

PADI Dive Center

Nilmaguba, Loukhski Region, Republic of Karelia, Russia

(7) 495 105 7799

sever@dive.ru

Switzerland

You won’t find salty seas in Switzerland, but alpine lakes and rivers make for unique and mystical scuba diving.

Lake Geneva has a variety of dives to discover. Wall dives and freshwater scenery can be perused beneath the surface. There is even a wreck dive – a stellar spot for more advanced divers to take the plunge.

Another is Lake Zurich, where you can head to excellent scuba spots right from the shore. The lake is serene, with lofty mountains cascading upward from the lakeshore. Glacially fed, the lake has sublime visibility.

River divers will be blown away by the Verzasca, an impossibly clear river found just south of the Alps near the border of Italy.

Who to Dive with at Lake Geneva:

Scuba-Shop Villeneuve

PADI 5 Star Center and Instructor Development Center

Route D’Arvel 106, Villeneuve, Switzerland 1844

+41 21 9601535

phil@scubashop.ch

Austria

Salzburg Lake Image by Manfred Steidl

Landlocked Austria wouldn’t seem a good place for diving, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The Salzkammergut region of Austria has almost 170 lakes. A favourite is lake Attersee, where there are dive sites galore to check out, in this, the largest of the area’s lakes. Nazi treasures were once held in Wolfgangsee, and though you can’t take them with you, you can still see them on a dive.

During a trip here you can swim in the cold, gin clear water, checking out park benches, trees, and trails, all on a carpet of green grass. It’s unreal!

Who to Dive with at Salzburg Lakes:

Joe’s Wassersportcenter

PADI 5 Star Center

Innsbrucker Bundesstrasse 53, Salzburg, Austria 5020

+43 662 890259

info@wassersportcenter.at

Inspired to start your own ice diving adventure? Find out more about the PADI Ice Diver specialty and head to PADI Travel to look for amazing destinations.

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Competitions

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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