Archive for 01/05/2012

Wales Online – 

They were veterans of Afghanistan who turned to scuba diving to help them recover from their battlefield injuries.

Now two soldiers have turned what had been intended as recuperation into an unlikely new career underwater.

Brad Hughes, from Llandudno, was badly wounded in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2008.

He was returning from a patrol in a fortified vehicle known as a Viking when it drove over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

The huge blast ripped through the vehicle, severely injuring the 28-year-old. Miraculously he survived, but suffered six fractures and a dislocation to his right foot and more than three years later is still receiving treatment.

As a result, he enlisted for a pioneering rehabilitation scheme run by the Army Sub Aqua Diving Association (ASADA), which trains the military’s divers.

And now Brad is the recipient of a British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) Open Water Instructor’s qualification, making him one of only two who have reached the unlikely achievement through the programme.

The other is Brad’s close friend and dive buddy, Peter Wesley, who sustained complicated fractures to both of his legs during military training.

Both men have now been discharged from the Army on medical grounds.

Their achievements have been celebrated back at the BSAC headquarters where the physical and mental healing benefits of diving have been known about for a very long time.

Mary Tetley, the club’s chief executive, said: “Gaining your BSAC Open Water instructor qualification is an achievement in itself but to do so when battling a crippling injury which has had such a profound effect on your life is remarkable.

Full story…

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Bob Johnson – 

Preparations are being made to bring witnesses halfway around the world for the trial of an Alabama man accused of killing his wife during a honeymoon scuba diving trip to Australia.

Court records show that prosecutors have begun issuing subpoenas for witnesses in the U.S. to testify in the trial of 34-year-old Gabe Watson, scheduled to begin Feb. 13 in Birmingham.

Deputy Alabama Attorney General Don Valeska said preparations are also being made to bring witnesses from Australia for the trial.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tommy Nail. Watson is accused of capital murder in the 2003 death of his 26-year-old wife, Tina.

Watson’s trial originally was scheduled to begin in May 2011, but was delayed because of budget cuts in the Alabama court system.

Valeska has estimated the cost to the state of bringing witnesses to Birmingham would be from $12,000 to $15,000, but has said that cost would come from the budget of the attorney general’s office and not the court system.

Tina and Gabe Watson met while both were students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

She died while the couple was diving on a century-old shipwreck on the Great Barrier Reef about 10 days after they were married.

Full story…

Hannah Sampson – 

Vacationer Lynny Ravitz and her nephew were heading for an interactive dolphin encounter at Miami Seaquarium on Wednesday when 10-year-old Jake Goldberg spotted something else that piqued his interest: a giant tank where fish, lobster and stingrays swarmed humans spewing bubbles from white helmets.

“My nephew said, ‘Oh, this looks cool,’ ” Ravitz said, “and we upgraded.”

That’s exactly what executives at the Seaquarium were hoping would happen when they added the Sea Trek Reef Encounter in late November.

Over the last several years, the 56-year-old attraction has sought to attract new customers — and revenue beyond the $39.95 general admission — by providing opportunities for guests to interact with sea creatures.

The Sea Trek experience costs $99, which includes admission, or $49 to add to the Dolphin Odyssey program. Guests — who must be at least 10 — are under water for 20 to 25 minutes, but the entire process takes about an hour and a half with orientation and preparation.

“The overwhelming theme is: This is not go, sit, watch and go away,” said general manager Andrew Hertz.

“Everyone wants to do more. … Everything we do here, we want to get people closer to the animals so they can gain a greater appreciation.”

Full story…

Maritime NZ –

Salvors are preparing for severe bad weather this weekend, with a low pressure system expected to arrive on Saturday afternoon, and the worst weather expected on Sunday.

This is forecast to result in a maximum sea state of 6-7m, which is among the worst weather to be forecast so far.

Salvors will continue to make the most of the good weather expected for today and tomorrow to remove containers.

Fourteen containers were removed from the no.7 hold of the vessel yesterday and loaded onto the ST60, bringing the total number on board the barge to 15.

This leaves an estimated 898 containers still on board Rena. Salvors will today focus on removing containers from the no.6 hold, as this presents the easiest access for container removal.

357 containers have now been landed, with none brought ashore yesterday.

Salvors will be working on pumping gas from the no.5 hold so to make the space safe for accessing containers once no.6 has been completed.

Work is continuing on erecting a temporary gangway between the forward and aft sections of ship, with a more permanent structure to be built.

Pumping of oil remnants from the no.5 starboard fuel tank was carried out for 35 minutes yesterday.

The ship remains in a fragile but stable condition, with electronic sensors on board showing no significant change.

Weather conditions yesterday meant divers were not able to inspect the underside of the vessel.

Divers hope to be able to inspect the recent damage to the vessel today, but this will only occur when it is safe for them to enter the water.

Full story…

Jane Hammond – 

A stricken Sea Shepherd vessel floundering in the Southern Ocean was abandoned by an anti-whaling ship from the same fleet because of fears a sustained rescue would have revealed the location of the second ship to Japanese whalers.

The Bob Barker was the first to respond to a distress call from the Brigitte Bardot, damaged by a rogue wave in heavy seas on Wednesday evening, 2400km south-west of Fremantle.

In a secret operation yesterday morning, the Bob Barker reached the Brigitte Bardot, which had been taking in water and had a large crack on its port side.

The vessel handed over supplies, fuel and material to help with makeshift repairs and then left, leaving the crew of 10 on the damaged ship to wait another 10 hours for the Sea Shepherd’s flagship, the Steve Irwin.

Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson defended the decision to abandon the Brigitte Bardot and its crew in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean, saying the group could not afford to let the Japanese fleet know where the Bob Barker was.

The Japanese have tailed the Steve Irwin since Christmas Day but the Bob Barker has eluded detection.

The damaged vessel was asked by the Australian Maritime Safety Rescue Co-ordination Centre to switch on equipment that would enable it to be tracked as part of the rescue operation, a move Capt. Watson said could have exposed the Bob Barker to a tail.

Full story…

Emirates 247 – 

Khawla Ahmed Khamis of Dubai had never thought she would become an experienced diver as she had not known how to swim.

The 24-year-old woman is now a trained diver and is unusually encouraged by her father.

A mother of two girls, Khawla belongs to an 18-member family and seven of her sisters are also good divers.

By embarking on such a daring and risky hobby, Khawla has not only conquered the sea but long-standing social barriers that have kept native women away from many activities mistakenly deemed fit only for men.

Through her adventures beneath the azure Gulf water, Khawla has developed extraordinary skills how to deal with dangerous sea animals and has learned what she described as a very important fact– that marine creatures could be friendly and harmless unless attacked.

“Most girls in the UAE still shy away from diving because their families either do not what them to be divers or do not allow them to be trained by men in the absence of female trainers,” she said.

”My sister was trained by a male diver– Captain Mohammed Issa…she has obtained a licence in diving and this has opened the door for other sisters and many other girls to have diving lessons.”

Quoted by ‘Emarat Al Youm’ newspaper, Khawla said seven of her sisters are trained divers and that they are encouraged by their father, mother and brothers to dive and engage in many other activities considered by some as “taboo” for women in the country.

“My father is a retired military man…he and my brothers have played a major role in helping me break the fear barrier and shoulder responsibility.”

Full story…

Stephanie Pappas 

A “lost world” of sea creatures was discovered near Antarctica, British scientists announced Wednesday.

Scientists doing their first exploring of deep-sea vents in the Antarctic said it was unlike anything found around other hydrothermal vents — a world populated by new species of anemones, predatory sea stars, and piles of hairy-chested yeti crabs.

It was “almost like a sight from another planet,” said expedition leader Alex Rogers, a professor of zoology at Oxford University.

Even in the eye-popping world of deep-sea vents, the Antarctic discoveries stand out, with the unfamiliar species of crabs found crowded in piles around the warm waters emanating from the seafloor.

Many of the animals found at the vents have never been found at hydrothermal vents in other oceans, Rogers said.

“To see these animals in such huge densities was just amazing,” Rogers told LiveScience. In the dayless world of deep-sea vents, energy comes not from the sun but from the hydrothermal energy generated in the oceanic crust.

The yeti crabs seem to cultivate “gardens” of bacteria on their chests, which are covered with hairy tendrils.

These bacterial mats almost certainly provides the crabs with sustenance, Rogers said. In turn, predatory seven-armed sea stars stalk the periphery of the vents, snacking on unfortunate crabs.

Full story…