Envuelta en peces

Alguna vez has tenido la sensación de estar envuelto en un torbellino de peces? Estos son blue mao mao, Poor Knights, en Nueva Zelanda.

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Parámetros técnicos:

  • Punto de buceo: Middle arch, Poor Knights, Nueva Zelanda
  • Duración de la inmersión: 50 minutes
  • Temperatura: 16º C
  • Profundidad máxima: 25 metros
  • Profundidad mínima: 7.3 metros
  • Botellas: 2×12 acero, gas de espalda
  • Gas: Nx 32%
  • Buceadores: Christian & Belen

 

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Comunidad: Educación, Conservación, Exploración… GUE

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Cabo de Palos lighthouse

Será esta vez Cabo de Palos el anfitrión de la segunda quedada en España de GUE, esta vez, solamente por las preparaciones, puedes sentir que iba a ser un evento enorme para la comunidad: COMUNIDAD, ¡la clave!

Una comunidad, tres objetivos… ¿o cuatro?

Educación

Con más de diez instructores GUE en el mismo sitio, viniendo desde todas partes del mundo, no ha sido una sorpresa que hubiera algo de diversión GUE 🙂 ¿Dónde está esta mezcla? Instructores de Fundamentals se han convertido en alumnos de clases de Rebreather, otros candidatos se han evaluado para convertirse en instructores de Fundamentals, han nacido nuevos buceadores de cuevas, ¡y también nuevos Fundamentals! ¡y además más mezcladores de gases para llenar todos las botellas de los anteriores! También les hemos dado la bienvenida a muchos nuevos miembros que ahora forman parte de la comunidad.

Conservación

Teniendo Project Baseline, como el buque insignia de la piedra de conservación de GUE, muchos de los asistentes a las Jornadas estaban interesados en colaborar en el proyecto y en visitar este punto de buceo de Project Baseline Islas Hormigas, a pesar de las condiciones climatológicas duras del fin de semana. Este proyecto está abierto a todos los buceadores GUE de todos los niveles, desde Fundamentals (donde realmente está la mayor parte del trabajo) hasta Rebreathers, donde cada uno puede probar sus habilidades con fotografía, topografía, documentación, o cualquier otro objetivo específico.

Exploración

Sabes de inmediato que un buceo tiene una componente de exploración cuando antes de salir a superficie ya tienes en mente planes de volver. Esto les ha pasado a todos los que bucearon en la reserva marina, a poca profundidad, más profundo, pecios y cuevas, que estaban accesibles en Cabo de Palos este fin de semana todos los que lo exploraron.

La comunidad, tenía que explorar este nuevo destino. Cabo de Palos es ya conocido por buceadores locales en España, pero definitivamente, es un sitio totalmente nuevo todavía por explorar para aquellos que se unieron a nosotros desde EEUU, Noruega, Alemania, Canada, Italia, Polonia, Hungría, Portugal, Holanda, Rusia, Reino Unido, Emiratos Árabes, etc.

¡Y todavía hay más! muchos muchos planes de futuro en estos arrecifes, pecios y cuevas, que han nacido a través de esta reunión ¡y que se gestarán para el futuro!

La magia que hace que todo sea posible: COMUNIDAD 

No podría ser de forma diferente, tuvimos también charlas, y nos lo pasamos genial durante los eventos sociales: desayuno, comida, cena, tapas, cafés … de camino a las inmersiones, cargando y descargando los barcos, ¡incluso en las propias inmersiones! todo muy divertido.

Todo ello, como no podía ser menos, bajo el sol, en terrazas, y con vistas al Mar Mediterráneo, con buena comida y compañía, ¿que más queremos? Esta vez, los eventos sociales se magnificaron por el mal tiempo, si hay una reunión de buzos, que no pueden bucear todo lo que quisieran, ¿qué hacen? ¡Hablar de buceo! Alrededor de unas tapas, y una mesa, ¡tomando algo y divirtiéndose al fin y al cabo!

Después, por la noche, oímos historias sobre vida extraterrestre, el origen del agua, pecios de la segunda guerra mundial, cuevas hipogénicas, aparejos de pesca abandonados, los orígenes de GUE, aguas termales, fotografía en entornos extremos, buceo científico, el primer scooter que se inventó: los Gavin, qué tienen que ver las cuevas en Turquía con el origen de GUE y cómo se ve el futuro…

Todo esto, no hubiese sido posible sin el esfuerzo de nuestros patrocinadores y anfitriones: Centro de Buceo Islas Hormigas y Halcyon Dive Systems; también sin la incansable ayuda de los instructores que hicieron esto posible, y además de TODOS LOS ASISTENTES A LAS JORNADAS, ¡¡¡¡estos últimos, son los realmente importantes!!!!!

 

The Lermi – First dive, Just a piece of metal?

It is strongly recommended to do the first dives on the wreck without any penetration, making sure that you can recognise the waypoints and the topography of the site. You can get an impression of the dimensions, layout, and specially, starting to make up your mind for when you’re travelling horizontally, when reality maps a vertical movement on the wreck to horizontal. Something that I didn’t do, and it cost me a few dives more to be aware of the wreck layout.  

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The first dive

The first dive into the wreck started descending on the line attached to the bow at the lounge deck. The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw it was: Is this all? This is just a flat metallic plate full of growth! I couldn’t be more wrong, for many reasons!

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Inside the Bolshoi Lounge

As soon as we touched ground, we started the penetration, straight into the Bolshoi Lounge where we had a good look around. You can still see some of the tables, and there is a really good backlit image, if you haven’t mess with the silt yet. A good indication of the level of details that this wreck has, is that in this dive, I totally missed the two chandeliers on the virtual ceiling (side wall physically), which I saw on the following dives: there are so many artifacts to look at, and you can’t be on a rush to visit it. 

With the first moments of Where am I? thoughts, and the impression of the first dive on this wreck, everything looks spectacular. 

 

We swam towards the bow, making our way directly to the wheelhouse and the main tower, this is a part of wrecks that I always like: it’s where usually the communications antennas, radars, visualization decks and controls are. Also, I think they are really beautiful with the backlight, looking towards the surface from the other side. If you pay attention to this, you can still find some nice details.

 

Swimming into the massive mast, I was impressed of the size of the radar radome, still there, despite it was probably made of a composite material. From the top of the tower (the most eastern part in reality), we swam back along it until reaching again the compass platform and the bridge deck, to start our way towards the stern, recognizing the top deck. The visibility was only around 5 meters, not allowing taking the proper perspective to map the cruise on your head, as it happened. The trick here is to start building in your head sections of it and connect them later. 

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Swimming towards the stern, over the Sun deck

Looking into some corners, we saw the elevator door on the upper floor, and wire wheels on the back as well. The elevator seems just like a hatch, as you mind may not associate the horizontal shape. Turn your head, and you will recognize an elevator door.

 

After having a look at the stern, we swam towards the bow again, but with a brief stop at the pool. You can see the tiles on the pool’s floor, and it’s a beautiful view to look towards the windows, it is a mandatory stop as well the Neptun bar, still with the stools.

 

 

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Neptun Bar, located by the Swimming pool

Swimming up (so we wouldn’t change decks) we started our way back to the bow trhough the Winter Garden. On this way, I had a chance to stick my head on the hairdresser and the cinema, which really made an impression on me to see how all the seats lining there, and the lights hanging.

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The hairdresser, at the exit of the swimming pool and on the way to the Winter Garden

Exiting just after passing the Nevsky bar where the lobby is located, and before the door, we went to have a look at the end of the bow. Unfortunately, the name of the wreck is covered by marine growth already. We ended the dive on the line, after swimming twice what it was still for me a massive piece of metal.

 

 

Dive technical details:

Dive time: 63 minutes

Maximum depth: 27,4m

Average depth: 18,3m

Water Temperature: 13ºC

Gas: Nx 25%

A brand new wreck – The Rena

 I love the sense of vertigo descending into an unknown environment. The knot in my stomach was getting tighter and tighter as I descended onto New Zealand’s newest ship wreck, The Rena, recently open to divers and non-divers in April 2016.

The MV Rena was a 37000 tons cargo ship, owned by a Greek shipping company and operated by Mediterranean Shipping, and sunk in October 2011, after running aground on Astrolabe reef, 22 km off coast of Tauranga harbour.

The ship had 1368 containers on board, 8 of which contained hazardous materials as well as 1,700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 200 tonnes of marine diesel oil. It was the biggest oil spill and marine disaster in New Zealand to date, and still holds that fateful title.

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Part of the bow section

Thousands of volunteers participated during the cleanup of the area which took years, as well as the monitoring, to avoid what it could have been a catastrophic event for all surrounding marine life.

The job of the volunteers

Almost every diver in New Zealand, for different reasons, wants to kick a fin around it, either for the fun of diving a wreck that is completely new, or for finding some new life on a virgin wreck, where still, not many human beings have been. Isn’t it fascinating the desire we have as humans to visit and explore areas where few have travelled before?

The wreck is located within a huge area, in five different parts, with three different dive sites, where in two of them, you can do two or three different dives, ranging from 12 meters up to 70 meters on the deepest part of the reef. What makes the Rena an advanced dive, is not the depth itself, if you keep it to recreational limits, but the dive site, located in open ocean with no shelters against any wind or incoming swell, on an area of highly variable sea and air conditions, including the possibility of huge currents.

When you descend onto the wreck, no matter from which buoy, after the rigorous few seconds of confusion on a new site, the first impression that you get is that you are facing a vast amount of metal, that has suffered massive environmental forces over the last few years, and you will notice all the stairs, and bent and twisted masts and metal pieces scattered around. You find yourself floating over a pile of rubble until you regain your orientation again and redirect the dive.  If you face yourself towards the stern, the most intact part of the wreck, you can still imagine yourself running through the decks of the ship, making your space on the swim troughs and play with the kelp.

 

Due to the pressure on the hull, the ship cracked into two pieces, now sliding down the side of the reef. Also, parts of the wreck were removed, mainly for safety and for possible contamination reasons, as the painting had Zinc, Copper and Tributyltin, as did the accommodation deck and the port side. It is important to notice that not only fuel and oil are the contaminating substances on a ship wreck. It’s a huge task with all wrecks in the ocean in making sure that they won’t contaminate the environment, and it lasts not only a few months but years of cleaning and  surveying.

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Not everyday you can see the sinking of a wreck and dive it later, and what is more exciting, the way the wreck has blended with the marine environment and the reefs surrounding it.

The Rena sinking

It is one of those dives that you can’t do it just once.

The reef remained closed for diving from the demise of the ship until April 2016, that is almost 5 years of no fishing in that area. Diving reports on the first days of diving the wreck, show plenty of life, from Kingfish to Mackerel passing by Demoiselles and Snapper.

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Part of the bow section

What is really impressive as well is that only 5 weeks later, on the same dive site, there was no sign of any of the above, giving a feeling of solitude and devastation to the place.

Two videos, five weeks apart show how the place has changed in such a short time:

April 2016: Count the fish!!!!

May 2016, five weeks later: Count the fish again

The differences are obvious in marine life on the wreck and the reef itself after only a few weeks of opening the fishing in the area. This post doesn’t promote a fight against fishing, but it is a call for a regulation on certain areas and the protection of our marine environment, that we all benefit from.

Marine reserves hold a much larger biodiversity than unprotected areas and combined with the exploration of a wreck what more does a diver want. The consultation for placing a rahui over the wreck site is still in process.

Photos by Rhia Spall and Belen Andres

Written by Belen Andres

Patrick, Patricio, Patrizio, Patrekur, Pradig, पॅट्रिक, …

Why is St. Patrick’s day one of the most World Wide celebrations every year? Almost every developed country, has this celebration on the 17th of March, or at least, for bars privilege, the weekends before and after. 

I’ve been celebrating St Patricks in every country that I´ve been in for the last few years during this day: US, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, France, … It caught me by surprise today, on the way to “visit” some pacific islands, like I did five years ago.

It seems that this celebration is all about drinking beer, dark, green, yellow, any colour you like, but in fact, in some of the countries, this celebration belongs to the families, and originally, is a catholic celebration, commemorating the death of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

How did the tradition ended up from commemorating a death anniversary to drink beer as crazy? One can link Ireland and beer, as it is a typical beverage from the island, but the reason is quite simple, and it is why most of the Catholic traditions begin or end with some alcohol-related festivity: either going in or out of a lent. Nothing surprising up to now…

But, why is this festivity one of the most extended ones, and everyone keeps an eye on it to celebrate? Irish people must be doing something really right… but actually, the St. Patrick’s celebrations started in North America among the diaspora, rather than in Ireland, that was not extended until the 20th century. Nowadays, as we said, it is celebrated all around the world. The official color of St. Patrick’s is the green, because of the shamrock, a plant that was used to explain the Holly Trinity to the pagan Irish.

Five years apart +/- one day, on each side of the date line and a whole live in between:

Auckland, 2016

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2011 Hawaii

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Waka and Water

On Auckland anniversary weekend, is the perfect time to give a brief overview about this wonderful city, whose history has been driven by its isolation from the world, the character of the people, and all the civilizations, colonizations, and cultures that arrived here, most of them to stay, has definitely had a huge impact over the population character, welcoming, openness to the world and craving of exploration.

Auckland history is not long compared to ancient civilizations, like Chinese, or the mix of cultures in Europe. The city is celebrating its 151st year, with cultural events all around the historical places, especially those related with water, an element that is present on every activity and day, one way or another.

Maori culture, as well as other pacific influences drive the culture of this city, mixing with European, primarily british, and the thousands of immigrants that during these days populate the cities and towns, french, italian, south american, spanish… It can be said that New Zealand is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. A reasonable number of people who come to this country, including tourists, at some point they come back to stay, bringing their culture with them.

It is because of their isolation that kiwis are that much self sufficient, in all senses, including the day by day life. It is not uncommon on these islands to see people having their own plane or boat, either they own or share time on a bigger one with some association. That is a huge difference compared to people in Europe, America and in most parts of the world. In New Zealand is common to meet explorers, hikers, and sailors, in fact, it was a kiwi who first reached the Everest in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary. Nowadays, there is a trail in Auckland around the Waitakere ranges with his name.

A special relevance is given in Auckland anniversary day to water and maori culture, filling up events with everything related to this, like the Waka festival and the opening of the Auckland port to visitors.

More information about Waka can be found here:

http://www.wakaama.co.nz/

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/waka-canoes

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