Anthony Gilchrist of England, a co-owner of Fish Buddies Dive Shop and Resort on Malapascua Island near Cebu Philippines, was shot dead at the resort on Black Saturday. Anthony, commonly called tone or the Gentle Giant was shot six times in the back by a security guard working at his resort.
Reports show that the security guard arrived drunk 40 minutes late for his assigned shift and that Gilchrist told him to go away and leave. There was an argument and Gilchrist turn around and walked away. The security guard, Melchor Alciso, pulled the gun issued to him by the security company and shot Gilchrist in the back, Gilchrist tried to run away but the guard kept firing until the gun was empty.
The resort employees tried to get him to the nearest hospital by boat but he died from the gunshot wounds. One of the first police officers to arrive said they were a little confused at first when they arrived. They thought the shooter had also killed himself as he was laying in a pool of blood, however, he jumped up and ran inside and locked the door.
The guard has been arrested and charged with murder which is a non-bailable offense.
Anthony had been living in the Philippines for the last four years and the dive shop has been open for a little more than a year. It is located in one of the areas hit by last year's Typhoon Haiyan. He was instrumental into helping bring aid to some of the smaller isolates locations that were not well supported. The Fish Buddies Dive shop had recently moved to a new location on the beach.
What you need to know about Diving with Massive Marine Mammals!
Recently a business acquaintance sent me an email asking if I had heard the news about the Japanese whaling. The International Court of Justice ruled ( March 31,2014) in a case brought by Australia and New Zealand against Japan claiming that the Japanese whale research project was a front for an illegal commercial operation. The court ruled that the Japanese's Antarctic program was outside the scope authorized by the International Whaling Commission therefore should cease. A few days after the Japanese government announced that they would not have a whale hunt in 2014. Minke Whales are the once most saved under this decision. The Japanese program also allowed humpback whales to be taken, however, it seems over the last few years none have been found to be taken.
Diving With Minke Whales
The Minke Whales are possibly the most encountered underwater. Australia has a number of companies that offer swim with the whale programs generally with the Dwarf Minke Whales. These are located in a number of different locations with the area around Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef and on Ningaloo Reef on the Western Coast being the most visited. On the Great Barrier Reef, a special permit is required to offer swim with the whale programs and are allowed to approached within 30 meters of a whale before being required to turn off its engines or putting it into neutral. Without a special permit boats are not allowed to approach within 100 meters of a whale. Only one vessel is allowed at a time within 300 meters. Special rules exist if a calf is spotted. When a boat with a swim permit is at the 30 meter point they can shut off engines and deploy drift lines. A line is placed behind the vessel and snorkelers space themselves along the line with a four meter of so separation between them. Very often the whales will approach to check out what is going on. It is not uncommon to have a half dozen of these Dwarf Minke Whales checking out the people and staying for an hour or more. Certain locations within the Great Barrier reef are known to attract these whale pods such as the area around ribbon Reef 10, near the famous cod hole dive site. Divers in the Ribbon reef dive sites are often joined by single Dwarf Minke Whales in the course of a normal dive. It is recommended that divers move slowly if a whale approaches and continue with normal activities. More direct to the point, do not forget to check your gauges and allow for your safety stops.
I think at some time or another most divers think that they would like to open a dive center. They see having their own business and being able to dive daily is the perfect choice for them. For a number of years, I have been a member of the board of advisers for the Subic Bay Dive Association (SBDA), The members of the SBDA are all dive centers and related companies. Over the years I have seen a number of new dive centers open, some did well and others did not last long. Here are some items to consider if you are thinking of opening a dive center yourself.
1. Great divers do not always make great dive center owners. Many dive instructors come to a point where they believe that the next step from being an instructor is having your own center. While the customer service aspect of being an instructor is certainly beneficial in owning a business, being a business owner requires an entirely different set of skills. You will be so busy, you will not have much time for diving.
The scale and destruction of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami were beyond anyone's expectations. Three years on, the disaster is still very much on people's minds with images of the giant wave and destruction still vivid. In the months immediately after the disaster, I began looking online for volunteer work that involved diving or anything marine-related when one day I came across Sanriku Volunteer Divers, a group that's been diving almost everyday since March 2011 to continue restoring the affected regions.
Hiroshi Sato, who established the group, comes from Iwate Prefecture, one of the most badly hit areas. He was working as a dive guide in Thailand when the disaster struck. Immediately he returned home and began helping out, when one day he was told that as a diver, he could help recover the debris that had been washed out to sea. This led to a huge underwater clean up and as word spread, other divers began joining in. Today volunteers from all over Japan and abroad are being accepted into and assigned to appropriate projects. It's important to note that those who wish to participate in underwater activities need a good deal of experience - Rescue Diver at the very least. Non-divers can also join in by helping out on land and assisting the divers.
With a rope around their waists, the divers are paired with another volunteer who waits on land holding the end of the rope. They descend slowly to about 6-10m and are often underwater alone so they must be 100% comfortable with their equipment and any potential dangers such as getting tangled or stuck. Once their ropes have been securely tied to an item of debris, they pull on the rope a couple of times and the person on land brings the debris up.
If an item needs to be lifted with care or cannot be removed without specialist equipment, the divers ascend to explain this to those on land. Because they ascend and descend quite often, good ear-clearing skills are a must. Cranes are used to remove anything big such as tree trunks, while fishing nets, fishing gear, branches, trays or car tires can be more easily taken away. The debris is then sorted as much as possible, while personal items like handbags are put aside and cleaned in case someone later claims them.
The changing chemistry of the ocean may be hard to imagine, but it has very real and tangible effects. Increased CO2 levels in the ocean mean fewer carbonate ions, which coral reefs use carbonate to build their structures. Other calcifying species such as oysters, clams, sea urchins, and certain types of plankton also depend on carbonate ions for good health. Increasing ocean acidification leaves the animals less able to build their structures and to get on with their lives. In turn, increasing ocean acidification could mean fewer reefs to marvel at while on a dive.
What Can Be Done?
The most direct action a scuba diver can take against ocean acidification is to be more mindful about CO2 emissions. Do what you can to be more energy efficient and use fewer fossil fuels. For a more far reaching impact, consider working with NGOs that focus on ocean or energy issues – either by volunteering or through a financial donation. Taking the time to write your elected officials and voice your concern can also have a major impact.
In Part 2 of our series Diving in Japan, Bonnie Waycott takes us to northern Japan, and introduces ice diving off Hokkaido's Shiretoko Peninsula.
When winter arrives in Japan, it doesn't mean that you have to give up on scuba diving until the summer. Hokkaido, the country's northernmost island, may be covered in snow and ice. Blizzards and bitterly cold winds may sweep the area frequently. But if you're feeling brave enough to take on a new challenge, you may want to visit. In February, frozen ice from the Sea of Okhotsk breaks up and is blown south to the Shiretoko Peninsula. This is home to the ice diving season that begins around the end of January and lasts until mid-March.
On land, the peninsula is something else. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, it's full of national parks and a range of wildlife such as deer and bears. In winter however, it's surrounded by ice floes. These can be observed during a short boat cruise but if you really want to get up close to them, well this is when diving comes in.
The vast majority of people who go ice diving tend to be repeaters but new challengers are always welcome. A good point of contact is theIruka Hotel an English-speaking dive school and hotel that can cater to non-Japanese divers.
As conditions are extreme, ice diving comes with some strict safety procedures. Before the divers assemble for the first dive of the day, a hole is dug over the chosen dive spot and a small base is then created for assembling equipment, changing or just to keep warm. Through the hole goes a long rope which divers are told to never lose sight of. Because of the cold (the water temperature tends to be between 3 and -2 degrees), all dives are kept to within 10m, and usually last about 30mins. It's essential to be familiar with your equipment, to double check your dry suit and make sure it's properly fastened. Divers are also given special regulators that fit firmly into the mouth with a band that goes around the head, while a number of staff members from the dive school are stationed around the hole in case of emergencies. Descending slowly and keeping a firm grip on the rope are also requirements.
I am going to dive in the red sea this August, what are the best liveaboards do you recommend? What are the price ranges?
Normally, from mid march until end of may, it is common to hear the humpback whales singing during the dives.Specially those located in Sal Rei bay and lacaçao beach.
Scuba diving is already a "transportation to another world" but if you add this soundtrack it becomes a mind blowing experience.
This year a little "upgrade" on the experience to share. It was an urge need to put a face to that music.
This is what we got!
Upon first opportunity I put my gears together and drove to what became one of my favorite spots - Old Steamship Pier, located at Eastport, Maine. This site is an immediate neighbor to a spot mentioned in "Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die". I realize that the book is highly subjective, but most who dove in a vicinity keep coming back for more.
Driving from Boston was easy. And despite almost constant drizzle I reached Lincoln, Canada in less than 8 hours. Actually I was pleasantly surprised to see 75 mph speed limit posted in some parts of the highway.
It seems to me that I'll never tire to praise this dive spot. Its unparalleled combination of topographic position, easy parking, effortless access to the water, simple sub-navigation, relatively safe depth and richness of fauna. I swam to the wall in less than a minute and began scanning first log. Making this story short; 54 minutes of easy, unhurried dive "yielded" 6 species of nudibranchs, a worm, shrimp, soft corals and all kind of anemones.
According to my Atomic computer, which has tendency to be a bit "warmer" than its counterparts, water's temp was 39 - 40'F. Visibility wasn't bad for this spot - 5 maybe 6 feet. Using macro lens I was able to get clean shot of of fairly large anemone.
Hence I resurfaced happy with results of my dive. Few others went to farther reef and came back with pictures of other beautiful members of sea slugs.
A word of appreciation to every responsible diver. Thank you, guys, for being super careful and sensible to places we visit, above and below the surface. Let's take plenty of pictures and leave behind nothing but our love.
It is not diving season at Boa Vista, it starts in may, so going out for a dive means 20ºC, 18knots wind, 1.8 mts waves, some surge, some current. And on top of this there is a plankton swell (that is why the humpback whales are here) that makes visibility the poorest year round 8 to 10 mts...
On the other hand, fish looks like they are in carnival, so alive and moving a lot as we are not used to (well it might be the surge) but I Think the plankton has a lot to do in all of this.
Went diving with Geer from Belgium and John from Holland to Atlantida today. Geer was lucky yesterday diving with two respetable sand tiger sharks and we were excited about what to find today.
Well it was great 2 dives in the wall first down to 26 mts and over the platform at 10 mts. We managed to see white seabreams, guinean seambreams, guinean grunts, trumpet fish, squirrel fish, soldier fish, porcupine fish, parrot fish (male & female) guinean parrot fish, sea sluds, different nudibranches, damselfish, royal spinny lobster...moray eels, and even a Tuna fish school passing by.
The higlight was a massive Burr fish more than a mtr long that was curious and came really close to us...really nice.
A year passed and another group, lead by world-renowned photographer Andrew Martinez, set its course to St. Vincent - Critter capital of the Caribbean. If last year only 6 guys tagged along with Andy, this time more the 20 divers, in two separate weeks, joined his expedition.
I can't answer for all, but this time I enjoyed diving even more then during previous occasion. Thanks to a great help of Ray Haberman, who’s probably by now can be called a native of the island, I was able to rediscover unlimited possibilities of new underwater findings. Ray taught me how to look for and showed to me creatures size of the grain of sand. And with Andrew’s detailed instructions on underwater camera technique - proper strobes alignment, favorable composition, speed and aperture, good lightning of the subject, careful approach etc., I had unlimited potentials to photograph incredible world of the fantastic organisms.
Two awesome dive-masters – Cally and DJ, both with over two decades of experience in finding small, hard to detect animals.
Right after breakfast, we headed to the dock where all our dive-gears were preloaded onto boats and shortly, no more than 10-15 minutes, we were at chosen locations. If one of the boats headed, let’s say, to Orca 2, then other went to Cruise Ship. Then, during surface interval, we'd swap sites.
Thus, at the same time no more than 8 divers were at each particular spot.
Average depth of almost all our dives would hardly reached 30-35 feet. Only ones Ray took me to 100 feet at “New Guinea”, to check if spotted Bull-eyed lobster still lived inside of the entangled pile of sunken nets. But otherwise light, aluminum tanks easily yielded an hour, an hour-and-a-half of bottom time.
Overall I go back to St. Vincent again and again. And so far my only wish that air-travel could've been improved dramatically.
Happy diving and safe resurfacing to all.
WWII Wreck - Air raid attack and sank on 12th February 1942 - later moved to St. Elmo Bay - Depth 18 metres
The HMS Maori is in St Elmo Bay (Fort St. Elmo - Valletta in front of a cafe which has its outside walls covered with a number of painted Destroyers, amongst which is the HMS Maori.
HMS MAORI was ordered on the 10th March 1936 at the Fairfield Shipbuilding Co, Govan. Laid down on the 6th of July 1936, launched 2nd September 1937 and commissioned on the 5th December 1938, she saw considerable action in the Mediterranean, the Norwegian campaign, Atlantic convoys and the North Sea.
On February 12th 1942, it was moored at the entrance to Dockyard Creek, when it received a direct hit in her engine room. She was eventually set down in the back-water of St Elmo's Bay, on the sandy bottom at a depth of around 18 metres. Her guns were removed and the bows and stern are gone, however part of the raised bridge is still there. Divers can enter the remains quite easily, with exits through large holes in the starboard side. Although silted up, there are plenty of different types of fish and other creatures in and amongst the wreckage, which is covered with green weed and tube worms. Good Site to spot Sea Horses... Maximum depth - 18 metres.
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