Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Answer is Pink!

DDRC Professional Dive Boat Skipper Day - Monday 1st February

To Plymouth through the wind and rain to attend this DDRC organised event early this week. Despite the GPS managing to find me a winding single track road with mud scrapes as passing places in the middle of Plymouth, I emerged into the middle of Plymouth Science Park exactly where required!

Three lectures in the morning were followed by three interactive sessions and a tour of the facility in the afternoon. The presentation on the new Sikorsky S-92 Helicopter now operated by most of the SAR teams was illuminating (Lee-On-Solent has a Augusta AW-189 at present) - the quantity and variety of sensors /search equipment carried is immense. The Q&A session highlighted widespread condemnation of black SMBs (not sure who thought they would be a good idea) and that the InfraRed system can now detect you whether or not you remove your hood.  We also learnt that the winch speed is 350 feet/minute - almost a zip wire!

The RNLI session was given by Sean Marshall, 2nd Coxswain Plymouth Lifeboat who is also a Dive Boat skipper for Plymouth University. Over lunch, I was glad to be able to share details of the equipment evening we'd had with Selsey Lifeboat with Sean and give him the teaching outline so he could adapt and use for Plymouth.

The morning finished with a presentation by a Diver who had experienced an Immersive Pulmonary Oedema (IPO) - essentially, always feeling breathless underwater but fine on the surface. The medical presentation afterwards highlighted the difficulties of diagnosing this condition and how much there is still to learn about the body and it's reaction to being underwater - there was a lively Q&A session although please don't ask me to repeat some of the explanations.

Quick bit of networking over lunch (one way to diet - minimal food) and then into the afternoon sessions........Basic Life Support / O2 admin and AEDs; as always, useful practice and skills refresher.  Tim finished with a suggestion that we look at an interactive LifeSaving video from the UK Resuscitation Council - this has three realistic scenarios and involves you in decision making and actions as each progresses; we'll be referencing this on the React Right courses we run in future.

Then a session on non-DCI issues - symptoms and treatment before the final session on DCI recognition - a succession of real-life based case studies gave us the opportunity to discuss how we would react in a particular scenario and the options / advantages and disadvantages......we learnt how useful photographs are in the case of skin bends (which are unlikely to look the same by the time you reach a Chamber).  The afternoon concluded with a tour of the facility and we emerged just in time for the rush-hour home!

A very useful was very helpful to have discussions around the case studies (put someone on Oxygen or not for instance) and certainly clarified my thinking in several areas and the Mulberry Diver procedures will be updated to reflect these aspects.

And the Answer is Pink?

The SAR Winchman was asked what was the best colour for SMB visibility.........based on his experience of actual rescues, he said Pink! Anya is busy sourcing some from China now :-)

Link back to Mulberry Divers website

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Our new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)

Earlier this month, the Second Tranche of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) was announced and it included two in the Selsey area -  Utopia and Offshore Overfalls. There are copious amounts of documentation available at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) including  Fact Sheets and Maps for each MCZ. 

Utopia is a small MCZ located 20km East of the Isle of Wight; it is just East of the Nab Tower and surrounded by Dredging areas with the Nab Tower Spoil Ground to the South. Unfortunately there are errors with at least one of the positions given in the Designation Map  however it looks like there are several wrecks in the MCZ although none are on our diving list at present. This is an MCZ that have been designated mainly to protect the geology rather than the marine fauna and flora; the Utopia reef consists of an area of bedrock and large boulders that host rich communities of sponges and anthozoans. Anthozoans are a group of soft animals with feathery tentacles, which includes soft corals, sea-fans, cup corals and anemones. The reef is surrounded by sediment made up mostly of gravel and sand. The animals that live in Utopia MCZ are mainly large, slow growing species such as branching sponges which has hard, crinkly ‘petals’ that provide hiding places for small fish, crabs and prawns. There is a 2014 Seasearch report on a dive executed to support the designation proposal and the original Balanced Seas report has more detail.

OffShore Overfalls is a much bigger MCZ located roughly 18km east of the southern part of the Isle of Wight. The site covers an area of 594 km2. The Basil wreck lies just inside the NW boundary whilst UB1195 is just outside the Western edge. 

This site protects areas of sandy seabed, which support species of flat fish and sand eels camouflaged on the surface of the sand, with worms and bivalves (with their pair, hinged shells) living within it.
The MCZ also includes the second largest area of seabed mixed sediments in the region. As mixed sediments are so varied, they can support a wide range of animals, both on and in the sediment. Animals found here include worms, bivalves, starfish and urchins, anemones, sea firs and sea mats.
In the north west corner of the site is an area called the ‘Overfalls’ which has been highlighted as an area of high scientific value due to the unusual area of mixed sediments, sands and gravels that form sandwaves. These are important for a range of fish species such as bass, turbot and brill, cod, rays (specifically blonde rays), tope, brown crab and sandeels.
The site also protects the geological English Channel Outburst feature which was formed at the end of the last glaciation by the collapse of either ice sheets or glaciers. 

We're quite likely to dive the Northern perimeter of this MCZ either specifically for the wrecks or possibly to view the Overfalls which are considered unique in the UK.

At present, no management approaches / plans have been defined for these MCZs and hence the only assumption that can be made is that it will be 'business as usual' for now. One consequence of this lack of forward thinking is that it is not clear how measurement / assessment will take place (who, what, when) and in some cases, what is the initial baseline. (Concerns about the level and quality of evidence have been a perpetual theme to the extent that the whole programme was delayed prior to the initial designations to address this area). We have encountered instances in the past where divers have been identified as causing damage to geological features (without specific proof) without the full force of an Ebb tide or a Storm being considered.

It is noticeable, reading some of the supporting documentation, that Diving is rarely mentioned as a sport using these areas - this is probably a reflection of the fact that both Angling / Recreational Fishing and Yachting have well organised focal groups that represent their activities in these forums over a long term and consistent basis - whilst BSAC is the National Governing Body it clearly does not have the same funding or capability of the other Stakeholders around the table. (In the case of Balanced Seas in particular we encountered severe difficulty in trying to provide input). 

The last Tranche of MCZs will be announced in 2018 after formal consultation in 2017; it is possible that Selsey Bill and the Hounds will be included - it was on the original recommendation list from the Balanced Seas project. We will publicise the Consultation when Defra announce it. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

New Location for Our Blog

We've decided to integrate the Blog into the Mulberry Divers can now be found at The switch will happen over the next few days - the most recent blogs have been copied over and new posts will in future only appear in the new location.
Please let us know whether you find the Blog useful or have any other comments.


Saturday, 9 April 2011

9th April - Lumpsuckers galore - Starfish under Lifeboat Station

Blue sky but somewhat too much wind from the East - so we moved to Hillfield Rd (fortuitously this was the first day the car park re-opened after the beach shingle recharge that has been conducted over the winter)and ran three dives in Bracklesham Bay - much calmer water on this side as the day progressed. Whilst the first cuttlefish has yet to be seen under the Lifeboat Station, two divers did find three Starfish (two Common, third not determined); we haven't seen Starfish here before so wonder if they have migrated in.

The first dive on Hound Reef produced a profusion of Lumpsuckers - for at least one diver, they went from not having seen one before to finding five or six. Plenty of other marine life.........Lobsters in particular. Second dive was the Landing Craft - good 4-5m visibility with some drift.  For the third dive, back to Hound Reef - notable here were reports of large Wrasse in some numbers.

The Selsey Lifeboat 150th Anniversary T-shirts are selling well - all money goes to the Selsey RNLI; we have most sizes in stock at £12.50

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunday 27th March - Visibility again, plenty of Nudibranchs and both Lifeboats launch

Some calmer weather and visibility has returned :-)

Reports from the Far Mulberry of 8m visibility this weekend - at least one report of the Lumpsucker returning and sitting at the shot line block again.

For Steve, this weekend was a case of diving the two moorings prior to Phoenix starting the 2011 programme next weekend (weather permitting). The beach mooring vanished in the last major storm (and also created a small cliff face of gravel) - however it was soon found yesterday and re-buoyed. The large squat lobster that lives under the block was not too amused - apart from that not much moving marine life to be seen. Vis was a good 4-5m with clear water. Today, I dived the main mooring - again not much moving marine life but some excellent dahlia anemones - with no weed at the moment, these anemones really stand out and make good photo subjects in macro mode. The wind had changed direction slightly so some slop onto the beach and small waves - visibility not good adjacent to beach but OK out level with the mooring.

Linda has dived the Lifeboat both days this weekend with the Open Water course - vis has been good and she's seen quite a few Nudibranchs (most of the reports to date have been white nudibranchs but Linda found a purple flabellina) - highlight was probabaly being alongside the boathouse today as the All Weather Lifeboat launched down the ramp (Selsey Lifeboat web site) shortly after the Inshore.

Looking ahead................we're hoping that the storm forecast for mid-week won't disturb the vis for next weekend which officially opens the season for us.

This year is Selsey RNLI's 150th Anniversary - we have some special T-shirts (all proceeds to RNLI) and we're encouraging everyone to donate; if you are feeling active the Sponsored Walk is in early May. Details of the special events planned for June are on the Selsey RNLI web site.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Thank you for the Feedback

We recently sent out a short survey asking for Feedback on how we could improve the service we offer. We're grateful to everyone who took the time to reply - several people asked for the Dive Centre to be re-located closer to their home; regrettably we don't yet have a Tardis so we'll have to stay in Selsey. Many other suggestions will be adopted and some are already in place:
- the boat schedule can now be reached directly from the main page - select Dive Schedule and a Schedule option appears
- the website text is now Black - we hope this is more readable
- the link to the Blog has moved to the top menu; in due course, we'll migrate the Blog further into the website
- we've changed the deposit system for Phoenix and now simply require a £20 bond for the season; there has been a separate Newletter with more detail so please contact the Dive Centre for details

Please let us have any further suggestions - we'll try and make them work if possible.

Oceanic Seminar - February 2011

Linda and I attended the annual Oceanic Seminar near Honiton in early February - two hectic days best characterised as too much alcohol and not enough sleep! The serious side of course was hearing about the new products that will shortly be available - in parallel we networked with all the other Oceanic dealers, caught up on the gossip and noted with regret that several Dive Centres we knew had closed during the year. The Seminar dinner featured a 7ft Drag Queen - pictures available upon request; donations to the RNLI for those who wish to keep the pictures out of public view!

As the new ranges come into stock, we will provide details in our Newsletter and I'll provide reports here as we use many of them ourselves. First up will be our experience as Linda and I train in Sidemount using the Hollis SMS100  (Hollis SMS 100 Wing).