Archive for 05/11/2012

Emirates 247 –

A group of private Saudi divers said they had built what they described as the first underwater mosque in history and that they performed prayers inside it just after it was completed, according to a newspaper.

The divers used massive plastic pipes filled with sand to construct the symbolic mosque under the water off the northwestern town of Tabuk close to the border with Jordan, Al Madina said.

“One of our colleagues came up with this idea last summer and we decided to carry it out,” diver Hamadan bin Salim Al Masoudi said.

“We have just completed the construction of the mosque…when we put the final touches on it, it was time for afternoon prayers, so we performed group prayers in the first underwater mosque in history.

”The shipbuilding arm of Dubai World has signed a deal to develop undersea hotels with a Swiss firm on Wednesday.

Drydocks World unveiled an agreement with BIG InvestConsult, which holds the technology rights, to build the World Discus Hotel.

The hotel, featuring a discus-shaped residential underwater building connected to another discus above water, will be funded by BIG, which is in talks with other investors.

“Drydocks and Maritime World is appointed as the exclusive main contractor for construction of the new concept hotels and cities floating in the Middle East,” Drydocks said in a statement.

Full story…

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Wendy Rigby –

One of the unfortunate legacies of the war on terror is a new generation of wounded warriors.

An innovative program at the Center for the Intrepid is helping young amputees dive back into living after a life-changing injury.

On the banks of the Comal River in New Braunfels, groups getting ready for a dive are a common sight.

But if you looked closer at the group gathered to dive on April 26, 2012, you would notice this group was different.

Many of them were missing limbs, stark reminders of the price they’ve paid in the war on terror. Michael Caspers, 25, lost his lower right leg to an IED in Afghanistan.

“You can look at it two ways,” Caspers said. “You can either let your injury get you down.

You can say ‘woe is me’ and feel sorry for yourself. Or you can just accept it and then just drive on.”

Adaptive SCUBA started six years ago. John Duggan who has been diving since 1957 wanted to help returning troops.

“I just want to share it with them,” Duggan explained. “I mean, I’m 72, so I want to get as much done as I can before I get too old to do it.”

“We basically teach them how to adapt and overcome without any special equipment,” explained Mark Heniser, a physical therapist with the Center for the Intrepid.

This is the nineteenth class of adaptive SCUBA for wounded warriors.

It’s a program that has brought joy and self-confidence to 250 divers, men and women from all over the country rehabilitating in San Antonio.

Full story…

Southern Studies – 

A commercial diver who worked in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP disaster has filed a lawsuit blaming his serious health problems — and his colleagues’ suicides — on the oil and chemical dispersants used to break up the slick.

David Hogan of Texas was once a “very gregarious, healthy man” who climbed 14,400-foot Mount Rainier in Washington — but after five months of working long hours as a commercial diver in Gulf waters fouled by oil and chemical dispersants, he began suffering seizures, lost 60 pounds, can’t walk, and is going blind, according to the complaint filed last week in district court in Houston:

“By August, 2011, medical testing and medical evaluation by one or more physicians familiar with exposure to the oil spill and, particularly, exposure to the Corexit® dispersants, led physicians to inform Mr. Hogan that his progressing medical problems were caused by the contact with the oil spill during his diving operations between June and November, 2010.

“Through additional testing and medical evaluation, by November 16, 2011, Mr. Hogan had been diagnosed as suffering from neurotoxicity related to chronic and cumulative exposure to chemical and heavy metals associated with the Gulf oil spill and dispersant”.

Hogan worked for Specialty Offshore, which contracted with oil and gas companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico to perform jobs including repairing and maintaining oil and gas lines.

Full story…

Dan Scanlan – 

Dive on an 18th Century shipwreck as part of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program’s summer Field School, set for Monday, June 4, to Friday, June 29 at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum.

This four-week college student program focuses on the continued excavation of the shipwreck found by LAMP in 2009.

While the ship is still unidentified, recent artifacts include hardware and rigging components, navigational and carpentry tools, cast-iron and copper cauldrons, a small flintlock pistol, six cannon and the ship’s bell.

This summer’s activities will include mapping, recording and excavating an area adjacent to the 2010-2011 excavation units.

Students will work alongside instructors to record and recover artifacts associated with this wreck.

The program is open to students pursuing a career in archaeology, partnered with a variety of universities to organize and implement this four-credit course.

Full story…

7 days in Dubai – 

A top marine expert at Dubai’s Atlantis hotel has spoken openly about the fate of the rare whale shark that was kept at its aquarium and caused an international wave of protest from campaigners.

Speaking during a weekend of activities geared to educate the public about conservation of sharks, marine sciences vice president Steve Kaiser told 7DAYS: “I genuinely believe she did really, really, well.”

The 4m-long female shark was on view to visitors at the aquarium from August 2008 until March 2010.

The Atlantis team was accused of “detaining” it by animal rights groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

When it was eventually released, the shark was fitted with a tracking tag, but the tag dropped off just a few weeks before she left the Arabian Gulf and her fate remains unknown.

Kaiser told 7DAYS: “Both myself and the staff were very privileged to rescue and rehabilitate the whale shark and send her back to the wild.

“She was found in a very shallow, salty, hot lagoon off Jebel Ali. We got a call asking if we could rescue her. “We found her lying on the bottom.”

The Atlantis team took the shark to its massive salt-water aquarium at the hotel on Palm Jumeirah.

Kaiser, who has been involved in the first-ever births of Black-Nose and Caribbean Reef Sharks in a man-made environment, said the team then nursed the rescued whale shark back to health.

He added: “We released her back in a better condition than she was found.” Kaiser admits that Atlantis received a lot of criticism, adding: “I think we did get a lot of bad press, but basically we did what we said we were going to do, so I don’t know what the criticism was all about.

“Having the shark here was the highlight of my career, being able to help an animal like a whale shark! I should just have retired there and then having achieved that.”

Full story…

Valerie Garman – 

Wetsuit, check.

Air tank, check.

Mask, check.

Area divers will soon be adding “passport” to their equipment checklists as they dive the new Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, set to launch in late May.

Through the development of the trail, divers will be able to track their underwater journeys in Northwest Florida by passport in an effort by the Florida Division of Historical Resources to bring divers to the Panhandle again and again.

It will feature 12 shipwrecks, starting in Pensacola and ending with the wreck of the Vamar in Port St. Joe.

Lindsay Smith, an underwater archaeologist with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, is part of a small team developing the trail through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“The shipwrecks are amazing, there’s just a wonderful variety (in the Panhandle),” said Smith, who noted it was difficult to pinpoint only 12 wrecks.

“They’re all very close together and there’s just so many to choose from.

There are tons of wrecks in the Panhandle, and we’re only highlighting 12 of them.”

Smith said the ultimate goal in the development of the trail is to help boost the dive economy throughout the region.

“The Panhandle has a very strong diving community,” Smith said. “As far as Scuba shops, there’s probably about 20.”

Full story…