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Marine Conservation & Underwater Photography
Meet our Marine Conservation Officer - Mike Donovan

My name is Mike Donovan and I have recently (2018) taken on the role of Marine Conservation officer for the club and I'm still working out how to undertake the role.

I have lived in Cardiff all my life and have two children (now adults) who live in Bangkok and Liverpool.

My early career was with British Coal as an industrial chemist, part of my duties were environmental control keeping an eye on local water sources to ensure we did not exceed limits set by the environment agency.

So I have some history in ensuring our waterways, seas and oceans are not damaged by our activities. I moved from the lab into management and looked after a briquetting plant for a number of years. When I left British coal I set up a management consultancy helping companies in South Wales to implementquality systems.

From there I moved into the public sector helping local government and health trusts to improve their performance. More recently I have been focussing on helping individuals with serious illnesses and their families to cope the psychological effects.

My diving career started at the age of 14 but was cut short partly due to a period of illness with a prolonged recovery period, but mostly due to a lack of funds.

I started diving again in my 50's and have realised the enjoyment I have missed due to my prolonged absence. We are so fortunate to have the beautiful west coast of Wales within easy reach and I try to spend a couple of long weekends each month there.

I am committed to finding out what effect the human race is having on the marine environment and more importantly what we should be doing about it.

To ensure I understand the issues I have recently commenced a course in oceanography delivered by Professor Tobin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I will be developing a E-newsletter to keep all those interested in local, national and international marine conservation issues.

Why Marine Conservation?
Oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and support an extraordinarily diverse world. Only a fraction of it has been discovered so far and much of ocean life remains a mystery which we are striving to unveil.

It is estimated that more than 1 million species live on coral reefs alone, and as many as 10 million in the deep seas.

The threats facing the marine environment are numerous and complex yet less than 2% of the oceans are protected.

75% of the Welsh coastline is recognised as being of both national and European importance.

There's plenty of it too becasue Wales has a staggering 2,740 km (1,702 miles) of coastline, including offshore islands, dramatic cliffs, secluded sandy beaches and rock pools to explore.

All these provide a spectacular backdrop for a range of leisure activities and watersports.

Wales occupies a very unique position. It's on the boundary of three oceanic and climatic zones (North-east Atlantic, Arctic Boreal, Lusitanian) and has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world!

Those factors combine to make the marine wildlife off Wales more diverse than many other places in Europe.

Wales also has heaps of different types of seabed habitat, too, which provide ideal conditions for a huge variety of species. The sea around the country provides the perfect homes for some of our favourite marine wildlife such as seals, dolphins, porpoises, sharks, jellyfish and many more.

Marine Conservation SocietyFor those keen to know more about our wonderful diversity of marine life, see the Marine Conservation Society publications and visit their website at:


Mike Donovan
Marine Conservation Officer.

Milford Haven oil spill estimated at 'up to 10,000 litres' (January 2019)

A "heavy" oil spill which prompted a major clean-up operation could be as much as 10,000 litres, port chiefs have said.

The Valero Jetty in Pembrokeshire, was closed off after the leak on Thursday.

Officials said the vast majority of the spill was contained - although more tests are under way.

Andrea Winterton, of Natural Resources Wales (NRW), said it was difficult to predict what the environmental impacts will be.

"We're not sure where or when any further oil will come ashore... but we'll keep monitoring all the beaches and working with our partners to ensure where it does come ashore, we clean it up appropriately," she said.

"The oil has stopped, the leak has stopped... until there's more that comes ashore, it's very difficult to say what's happened to it and what the environmental impacts are going to be."

The spillage was initially reported by the Valero refinery, with the firm now estimating that 7,500 to 10,000 litres (1,650 to 2,200 gallons) of "heavy fuel oil" leaked overnight between 2 and 3 January.

As a comparison, the average household bath holds 80 litres of water.

It is understood the leak came from pipework.

Habourmaster Mike Ryan said a "well-rehearsed" clean-up operation involved Natural Resources Wales, Pembrokeshire County Council, Maritime Coastguard Agency as well as Valero.

Floating devices called "booms" were used to contain most of the spillage and a drone has been used to see where the oil has spread.

Officials said oil has been seen on the shore at Dale and Musselwick Bay.

In the meantime, the boom devices will stay put until NRW is "confident the risk" to wildlife and sensitive salt marshes has passed.

The agency added a full investigation was under way.


Ocean Cleanup - The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Scientists are preparing to launch the world's first machine to clean up the planet's largest mass of ocean plastic.

The system, originally dreamed up by a teenager, will be shipped out this summer to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California, and which contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic.

It will be the first ever attempt to tackle the patch since it was discovered in 1997.

The experts believe the machine should be able to collect half of the detritus in the patch – about 40,000 metric tons – within five years.

In the past few weeks they have been busy welding together giant tubes that will sit on the surface of the sea and form the skeleton of the machine, creating the largest floating barrier ever made.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) spans 617,763 sq miles - more than twice the size of France, and contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic, research found last month.

Most of it is made up of “ghost gear” – parts of abandoned and lost fishing gear, such as nets and ropes – often from illegal fishing vessels.

Ghost gear kills more than 100,000 whales, dolphins and seals each year, according to scientific surveys. Seabirds and other marine life are increasingly being found dead with stomachs full of small pieces of plastic.

Creatures eat plastic discarded in the sea thinking it’s food but then starve to death because they are not feeding properly.

Others are trapped and die of starvation or are strangled or suffocated by ghost gear.

More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year, according to the US-based Plastic Oceans Foundation.

Up to 90 per cent of the world’s plastic items are never recycled, and scientists believe nearly every piece ever created is still in existence somewhere, in some form, with most going into landfill or the environment.

Single-use plastic, such as water bottles and nappies, take 450 years to break down.


Groundbreaking project returns oysters to their original habitat
Native oysters were common in the Dornoch Firth until they were fished to extinction over a hundred years ago. Now, as a partner in the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP, with Heriot-Watt University and Glenmorangie) we are helping to return the oyster beds here to their natural state.

20,000 oysters are now being carefully placed, on a bed of waste shell that has been laid to mimic their natural habitat.

Following a small-scale trial last year, this is the first time that native oysters have been re-introduced to an area where the species had become extinct, and promises potential wider benefits for Scotland’s seas. Calum Duncan, MCS Head of Conservation, Scotland, says: “Native oysters flourished in the Dornoch Firth from up to 10,000 years ago before being wiped out in the 19th century. Their return will enrich the ecosystem of an already internationally important area of Scotland’s inshore waters.”

We are introducing more oysters to the Dornoch Firth to recreate natural reefs where they once thrived, giving benefits to the wildlife and water quality of the area.
The native oysters, all grown in the UK, have been painstakingly cleaned and checked for disease and unwanted “hitchhikers”, and will be regularly monitored. Dr Bill Sanderson of Heriot-Watt University who is leading the restoration project said “While this is on a much greater scale than last year’s test introductions, we will be studying how well the oysters fare, and their effects on the seabed around them. We intend to ensure that sufficient numbers of oysters grow in the area to make the reefs truly self-sustaining.”

Hamish Torrie, Glenmorangie’s Corporate Social Responsibility director, said: “We are very excited to move DEEP to its next stage and have been hugely encouraged by the enthusiastic support that our meticulous, research-led approach has received from a wide range of Scottish Government agencies and native oyster growers – it is a truly collaborative effort.”

Dr Bill Sanderson, Associate Professor of Marine Biodiversity at Heriot-Watt, said: “This is the first time anyone has tried to recreate a natural European oyster habitat in a protected area. We hope to create an outstanding environment for marine life in the Firth – and act as a driving force behind other oyster regeneration work across Europe.

If successful, this project will offer many benefits to the marine environment, and will help inform conservationists around the world in efforts to reintroduce similar native species to areas where they have become extinct. As well as helping to improve water quality, native oysters also create microhabitats for other marine life, which increases an area’s biodiversity.


Brexit and our Seas - MCS report

Did you know that sadly, many of our environmental laws - from how we manage our fisheries, to standards on marine pollution, to how we protect many species and habitats - come from the European Union?

The UK has the third largest coastline in the EU, and our waters and many of the species that dwell within them know no boundaries. Joined up effort with our neighbouring nations must take place if we are to manage our seas well.

With the UK set to leave the EU, it is a priority for MCS to make sure that such a joined up approach continues after the UK leaves the EU, to make sure that we keep improving the management of our seas.

Laws which are currently set at an EU level are being, or will be reviewed to apply at a UK and devolved national level. As a UK based and focussed marine charity, we will work tirelessly to make sure the UK uses this as an opportunity to truly become a world leader and build on the good progress made in many areas of marine management.

Britain used to enjoy fishing areas that extended up to 200 miles from our coast. Under the terms under which we joined the EU, this distance was reduced to just 12 miles – and even that has depended on a concession that has to be renewed every 10 years.
EU rules are crass and wasteful into the bargain, with thousands of tonnes of fish being discarded – just thrown away. And if this were not bad enough, we have to donate British taxpayers’ money to other fishing countries.

Our priorities for UK seas

We need to:

  • Ensure new domestic fisheries laws deliver sustainable fisheries.

  • Complete an ecologically coherent network of well managed marine protected areas.

  • Uphold and effectively implement into UK laws all our obligations under international environmental treaties so that they can be given effect in the laws of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and are legally enforceable.

  • Continue to take action to reduce marine litter; in particular, implement the circular economy package, plastics strategy and reforms to Port Waste Reception Facilities Directive.

  • Protect vulnerable deep sea ecosystems from damaging fishing practices.

What is MCS doing?

We are collaborating with several partners to define what Brexit will mean for our seas, and to devise the best course of action to ensure that our priorities are achieved:

  • We made our recommendations clear with a letter, sent to all major UK political parties shortly after last year’s snap election (June 2017).

  • We sent a letter on “UK fisheries and the marine environment after we exit the EU” to Defra ministers (July 2017).

  • We provided parties with details of the Greener UK manifesto, which we support alongside many partner charities.

  • Worked in a coalition with other charities to develop this briefing “Delivering sustainable fisheries management, A sustainable future for UK seas”.

  • Worked in coalition with the Greener UK Fisheries and Aquaculture Pillar to develop this briefing “Essential elements of sustainable fisheries management” and a series of more detailed parliamentary briefings.

  • Working in coalition with the Greener UK Fisheries and Aquaculture Pillar, we helped develop these case studies to help highlight key elements that the proposed new Fisheries Bill needs to address.

  • We actively work in coalition with Wildlife and Countryside Link in England, Welsh Environment Link, Scottish Environment Link, and the Northern Irish Marine Task Force where we have helped develop various briefings and recommendations for Brexit.

  • Responded to the Labour Party consultation on Brexit and fisheries.

  • Have been regularly meeting with civil servants and Ministers from England, Scotland and Wales to provide advice and recommendations and ask pertinent questions about future management arrangements. * Responded to a consultation on the government’s proposed Environmental Principles and Governance after EU Exit. * Marine Conservation Society’s submission to Defra to highlight the importance of protecting the deep sea post Brexit.

  • Marine Conservation Society’s submission to the Defra consultation on its White Paper: Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations.

What’s next?

We will:

  • Respond to any consultations on the recently announced new Environment Bill.

  • Respond to the consultation on the Government’s ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations’ document (the Government White Paper outlining post-Brexit plans for fisheries management) where, amongst other things, we are concerned that the brand new Fisheries Bill will not include important environmental objectives. More here.

  • Encourage the public to respond to this important, once in a generation, consultation.

  • Continue to work in coalition with the charities on the Greener UK Fisheries and Aquaculture Pillar and the various Environment Links of the United Kingdom, to develop agreed positions and provide joint briefings and submissions.

  • Continue to meet with civil servants and UK Ministers and the devolved administrations to provide advice and recommendations and ask key questions about future management arrangements.

  • Keep working with the North Sea and North Western Waters Advisory Councils to provide fisheries management advice to the EU Commission and regional Member States, especially on any Brexit related advice developed.

  • Continue to engage the public and encourage them to support and call for better managed UK seas and and sustainable fisheries and responsible aquaculture (see the Good Fish Guide).

  • Continue to work with OSPAR to ensure that the Regional Action Plan on marine litter is also implemented in the UK.

  • Work to make sure any new regulatory body has powers and “teeth” to ensure environmental laws and standards are upheld and more effective in future.


Is the marine environment a political priority?

October 2018 - The party conference season is over for another year and MPs return to Parliament next week. Over the last month each of the major political parties headed to cities around the UK where they were joined by an eclectic mix of party members, corporate lobbyists, CEOs, and policy and public affairs leads from charities, NGOs and other groups with an interest in influencing policy.

The days are long, filled with fringe events, conference speeches, meetings with MPs and drinks receptions where everyone hopes to chat to a minister. The food is bad (I don’t want to see another sandwich for a long time!) and a lot of time is spent queuing, but it gives organisations such as MCS a valuable opportunity to glean intelligence about upcoming policy changes, question politicians and ensure that the issues we care about are on the political agenda.

There was strong focus on the marine environment
in Michael Gove’s speech with assurances that the UK will fish sustainably after EU exit, that 30% of the world’s oceans will be protected, we will have a Green Brexit and that we must “action this day” on ocean plastic. Whilst this positivity is to be welcomed, we’re still waiting for many policy announcements and consultations on plastic. We’re yet to see the draft Fisheries Bill or the government response to the recent consultations on the fisheries white paper and marine conservation zones. We still haven’t got clarity on a single-use plastic tax or on environmental principles and governance after Brexit. The longer we wait the more plastic enters our oceans and the more marine wildlife suffers due to lack of adequate protection. So we really need to see some action.

Encouragingly, a number of Conservative environmental fringe events focused on ocean plastic (most of which were standing room only with queues out the door!). MPs spoke about the Blue Planet effect and had clearly been influenced by this and the recent huge public response to the consultation on single-use plastic.

Thérèse Coffey MP confirmed that the Waste and Resource Strategy is expected this month (but will definitely be out before Christmas!) and that there will be an announcement on taxing single-use plastic and changes to the waste collection system to make it simpler. On a deposit return scheme, she mentioned that this is more complex than people think. It’s clear that we must do more to dispel the argument being pushed by industry that a deposit return scheme should apply to “on-the-go” items only.

At the Labour Party Conference Jeremy Corbyn (not dancing, but definitely upbeat) announced some bullshit about plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero and a green jobs revolution to tackle climate change. Sue Hayman, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, launched a joint report with the Shadow Business Secretary and highlighted the need for departments to work together on making sure that there is a focus on the environment in decision-making. The Treasury was singled out as a major blocker to environmental change. It is a welcome step forward to see these environmental commitments from Labour and let’s hope we see more action through future policy announcements.

Labour also confirmed an ambition towards standardising recycling regimes across councils and the need for extended producer responsibility. The commitment to a deposit return scheme was confirmed and there was strong support for an ambitious Environment Bill with a watchdog with teeth to hold all public bodies to account after EU exit.

In conclusion, whilst the rhetoric was strong from both parties - at the end of the day actions speak louder than words. For everyone who saw the heartbreaking scenes of the flesh-footed shearwater chick vomiting up plastic in the excellent Drowning in Plastic documentary, there can be no greater sign that the Government needs to take urgent action on behalf of our marine environment.

The future of our oceans depends on it.


Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is given the "go ahead"; or has it?

A £1bn plan to build the world's first power-generating tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay has been given the "go ahead".

The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world and within this Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range during spring tides of 8.5m.

The construction of a tidal lagoon to harness this natural resource would help the UK transition a low carbon future with greater energy security and lower electricity costs, while providing regenerative economic and recreational benefits to the local community.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said it showed the UK government was "serious" about the potential for tidal power. "Tidal energy is a huge opportunity for Britain," said Mr Davey.

"Tidal lagoons alone could provide up to 8% of our power needs, replacing foreign fossil fuels with clean, reliable home-grown electricity.

"That's why we're showing investors and developers that we're serious about tidal lagoon potential and have started in-depth discussions for what could become the world's first tidal lagoon.".

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb welcomed progress on the scheme, saying it could give a "massive boost" to the Welsh economy, creating thousands of jobs. "Wales is already home to some of the most cutting edge companies in the world and the country is uniquely placed to pioneer tidal power,".

"I am a strong supporter of this project and I have long been making the case to my Cabinet colleagues that Welsh innovation should be supporting the next generation of low-carbon technology."


  • A six-mile long seawall loops two miles out to sea from close to the mouth of the River Tawe and Swansea Docks and make landfall close to Swansea University's new Fabian Way campus to the east.

  • It would house 16 underwater turbines generating electricity on both the rising and falling tide.

  • Enough renewable power would be produced for 155,000 homes (equivalent to 90% of Swansea Bay's annual domestic electricity use) for 120 years.

Tidal lagoons are a simple concept involving the adaptation of standard, proven components used in global engineering projects. The Swansea Bay lagoon will comprise a UK standard sand-core breakwater or rock bund, similar to many seen in coastal defence schemes and harbour walls.

The generating equipment of bulb hydro turbines have been used for many years on run-of-river hydro power schemes as well as some landmark tidal barrages. The hydro turbines are mounted inside concrete turbine housings and are permanently submerged so the resulting view is of a ring-shaped harbour wall with one section of concrete casing.

As the sea outside the breakwater rises and is held back a difference in water levels is created, known as ‘head’, and once a sufficient head height is reached sluice gates are opened and water flows into the lagoon through turbines to generate electricity.

This process then occurs in reverse, on the ebb tide, as sea levels start to fall and a tidal head is created by holding water back within the lagoon. This way the tides can flow through our turbines four times daily to generate power.


Marine Current Turbines kicks off first tidal array for Wales

Marine Current Turbines Ltd (MCT), in partnership with RWE npower renewables, has today submitted a consent application to install a 10MW array of tidal stream turbines off the North West coast of Anglesey in 2015.

The array, consisting of seven twin rotor turbines arranged across an area of 0.56km², will harness the power of the tidal waters, generating enough power for over 10,000 homes on the island. It will be the first tidal array to be deployed in Wales.

This tidal farm, using the fast moving and predictable flow of the tides, will use MCT’s proven and award-winning tidal energy technology (known as SeaGen and which works in principle like an underwater windmill) to generate enough power to supply electricity to up to 10,000 homes. The array will be situated between the Skerries islands and Carmel Head, about 1km off the Anglesey coast. SeaGen is a proven technology, the first 1.2MW unit having been successfully operated in Strangford Narrows, Northern Ireland since 2008, and it is officially accredited by OFGEM as the UK’s first and only tidal current power plant.

If the planning consent is granted to SeaGeneration Wales Ltd, the MCT / RWE npower renewables project company, it will be the first tidal array in Wales demonstrating the commercial viability of this technology. This project will help to demonstrate that the deployment of tidal generation can be recognised as a viable means of securing renewable generation, lower carbon emissions whilst simultaneously creating a new industry and many jobs.

Martin Wright, founder of MCT said: “Tidal power is a predictable and reliable source of renewable energy and our technology can play an important part in helping Wales realise its renewable energy targets as set out in the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) Energy Policy statement.


Climate change PROVED to be 'nothing but a lie'; claims top meteorologist

The debate about climate change is finished - because it has been categorically proved NOT to exist, one of the world's leading meteorologists has claimed.

John Coleman (right), who co-founded the Weather Channel, shocked academics by insisting the theory of man-made climate change was no longer scientifically credible.

Instead, what 'little evidence' there is for rising global temperatures points to a 'natural phenomenon' within a developing eco-system.

In an open letter attacking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he wrote:

  • "The ocean is not rising significantly.

  • "The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number.

  • "Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing).

  • "I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environmental agenda item, but the science is not valid."

Mr Coleman said he based many of his views on the findings of the NIPCC, a non-governmental international body of scientists aimed at offering an 'independent second opinion of the evidence reviewed by the IPCC.'

He added: "There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has been none in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future.

"Efforts to prove the theory that carbon dioxide is a significant greenhouse gas and pollutant causing significant warming or weather effects have failed.

"There has been no global warming over 18 years."

Polar ice is increasing

The IPCC argue their research shows that man-made global warming will lead to extreme weather events becoming more frequent and unpredictable.

US News and World Report noted that many of the world’s largest businesses, including Coke, Pepsi, Walmart, Nestle, Mars, Monsanto, Kellogg, General Mills, Microsoft, and IBM, "are now engaged and actively responding to climate science and data."

Mr Coleman's comments come as President Barack Obama came under fire from climatologists as federal data revealed The United State's energy-related carbon pollution rose 2.5 per cent despite the President's pledges to decrease it.

President Obama told 120 world leaders at the United Nations climate summit last month that America had done more under his watch in cutting greenhouse gases than any other country.

Despite this, the Energy Information Administration's Monthly Energy Review showed an increase in the use of energy from coal.

World leaders have pledged to keep the global average temperature from rising two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

The UK, along with the US and other developed countries, is expected to pledge further actions on climate change early next year.

Climate expert William Happer, from Princeton University, supported Mr Coleman's claims.

He added: "No chemical compound in the atmosphere has a worse reputation than CO2, thanks to the single-minded demonisation of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control and energy production.

"The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science."

In 2010 a high-level inquiry by the InterAcademy Council found there was "little evidence" to support the IPCC's claims about global warming.

It also said the panel had purposely emphasised the negative impacts of climate change and made "substantive findings" based on little proof.

There has been no recorded global warming for 18 years

Supermarket Seafood Survey

A recent survey by the Marine Conservation Society has uncovered just how seriously UK supermarkets are taking the sustainability of their seafood. We've been delving into the nitty gritty of their seafood policies, sourcing, labelling etc. - and the results are very interesting!

How does your local supermarket score?
Some retailers have shown a real improvement. Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer are leading the way in joint first, whilst the Co-operative comes in close second and Waitrose third.

Lack of participation by some supermarkets, however, is keeping consumers in the dark when it comes to choosing sustainable seafood.

If supermarkets aren’t being transparent about where and how their seafood is being sourced and sold then how can consumers have trust in the sustainability of the fish being sold to them?

Tesco, which has the highest market share of seafood of all the UK’s supermarkets declined to take part in our survey, which assesses retailers’ seafood policies, own brand sources and labelling, as well as other indicators of how seriously supermarkets take sustainability. Aldi also chose not to participate this year with Asda, Lidl, Spar and Budgens not even responding.

We think traceability and labelling of seafood still needs improvement from all retailers: “In many cases seafood has a longer supply chain than meat. We know that some fish caught in UK waters is then sent halfway across the world, often to Asia, to be processed and then transported back here and sold in our supermarkets,” says Samuel Stone.

“What’s needed in the supply chain are the 3T’s - trust, transparency and traceability – to make sure that seafood doesn’t have its own ‘horsemeat’ scandal to deal with.”

Whilst improvements have been made, labeling and consumer awareness continues to be an issue for even the leading retailers. New labeling laws come into effect this year, which means that shoppers should start to see better information on seafood products, including how the fish was caught, where it was caught or farmed, and the full species name. We believe that if shoppers can’t see this information on their seafood products - including those sold online - they should choose something else. This information is essential when consumers are checking products against the MCS fish advice website www.fishonline.org


How "Jaws" misrepresented the great white

Billed as "The terrifying motion picture from the terrifying No 1 bestseller," Jaws has shaped the way many of us view sharks. But the creatures don't deserve their vicious reputation.

It was the summer of 1975 and even feeding the goldfish seemed fraught with danger. There was discernible tension at the seaside, and an earworm of two notes became a trigger for fear. Dum Dum, dum dum dum dum…

Forty years ago Jaws the movie hit the big screen. Cinemas everywhere held audiences in thrall at the thought of an oversized great white shark with bad attitude coming to a beach near you.

"Jaws was a turning point for great white sharks," says Oliver Crimmen, who's been the fish curator at the Natural History Museum in London for more than 40 years. "I actually saw a big change happen in the public and scientific perception of sharks when Peter Benchley's book Jaws was published and then subsequently made into a film."

The key problem Jaws created was to portray sharks as vengeful creatures. The story revolves around one shark that seems to hold a grudge against particular individuals and goes after them with intent to kill.

It's loosely based on a real incident in 1916 when a great white attacked swimmers along the coast of New Jersey.

"A collective testosterone rush certainly swept through the east coast of the US," says George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville. "Thousands of fishers set out to catch trophy sharks after seeing Jaws," he says.

"It was good blue collar fishing. You didn't have to have a fancy boat or gear - an average Joe could catch big fish, and there was no remorse, since there was this mindset that they were man-killers."

The author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, (who collected an award in 1975 marking the sale of a million copies of Jaws) was deeply perturbed by this. "Knowing what I know now, I could never write that book today," he said, years later. "Sharks don't target human beings, and they certainly don't hold grudges."

He spent much of the rest of his life campaigning for the protection of sharks.

Burgess suggests the number of large sharks fell by 50% along the eastern seaboard of North America in the years following the release of Jaws.

And research by biologist Dr Julia Baum suggests that between 1986 and 2000, in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, there was a population decline of 89% in hammerhead sharks, 79% in great white sharks and 65% in tiger sharks.

This change is not just down to sport fishing however, which is small beer compared to the numbers killed as by-catch from commercial fishing, and for use in shark fin soup which is popular in Asia.

But since the 1990s, protection for great whites has been established in many parts of the world including California, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. This has helped numbers recover somewhat, but there is a long way to go to return to pre-1975 levels.

There is no denying though that Jaws touched something deep in our psyche. As the streamlined shape of the shark rocketed upwards to grab yet another victim, so our fear of sharks surfaced.

"Sharks in cinema before 1975 were a different category altogether," says John Mullarkey, professor of film and television at Kingston University. "After Jaws, this massive creature, 20ft to 30ft long can devour you whole… this was a strange discovery for the public imagination."

It is no surprise that we love to feel frightened by creatures like sharks and peer out between fingers over our eyes at movies like Jaws.

"We are not afraid of predators, we're transfixed by them," says renowned Harvard zoologist Edward Wilson. We are "prone to weave stories and fables and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival - in a deeply tribal way, we love our monsters".

In reality, some large shark species certainly do attack humans - about 10 people a year are killed, usually by great white, bull and tiger sharks. Rarely though are the victims actually eaten - often they die from trauma.

There are two common reasons cited for attacks. Firstly, sharks mistake swimmers for their usual prey such as seals, especially if they thrash about in water and wear shiny objects that resemble fish skin. Secondly, sharks take an exploratory bite to see if we are suitable food and when they discover we are puny fare, we are spat out.

Some researchers take issue with this however - a shark's vision is too good and its sense of smell too sophisticated to confuse us with a seal, argue RA Martin, Neil Hammerschlag, and Ralph Collier from the ReefQuest Center for Shark Research. These are supreme ocean predators and are highly unlikely to make clumsy and possibly costly mistakes.

Sharks also have senses not available to most other animals. Pressure-sensitive pores scattered over their head and down the body mean they detect the slightest changes in pressure, enabling them to discern the smallest of movements even when other senses are restricted - such as their sight in murky water.

Sharks also possess sophisticated electroreceptors which help them hone in on the tiny electrical fields present around all living things, even creatures buried in sand.

Such highly-tuned animals are not likely to misidentify something as large as a human being. Far more likely, they conclude, is that sharks such as great whites see humans as fellow predators that could compete with them for food.

When they attack us they are not interested in eating us, they want us to leave the area. Martin, Hammerschlag and Collier have studied many shark attacks and say that prior to targeting a human, they show aggressive postures as a warning, and when that message is ignored they take action. The statistics appear supportive. The US averages 19 shark attacks each year but only one fatality every two years.

It is now 40 years since Jaws changed our perception of the ocean, and slowly but surely its grip is relaxing. There is an increase in concern for shark welfare and a greater understanding of the creatures as fascinating and impressive predators.

The calls for their protection are getting louder and although most people find it hard to love them, sharks are garnering more respect. We are less likely to criminalise them and more prone to accept their presence. It is a trend that would have delighted Peter Benchley.


Marine Conservation Zone proposals withdrawn

Proposals to create Marine Conservation Zones in Wales have been scrapped. Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies made the announcement in a statement released this morning.

Many people in Wales rely upon and use our seas to support their livelihoods and recreational activities. We want this to continue and develop as part of our blue growth agenda.

Last year we consulted on options for highlyprotected Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). This generated a substantial responsethat expressed divergent and strongly held views.

A task and finish team, supported by a Stakeholder Focus Group, was established to consider and advise how we should take forward MCZs in Wales. I have met with both of these groups to thank them for their positive and constructive contribution throughout the process.

I will be taking forward the recommendations of the task and finish team and to avoid any continuing uncertainty over the options presented in the 2012 consultation, I am also withdrawing all the proposed sites.
– Alun Davies AM, Natural Resources Minister

The proposals faced criticism from those whose living depends on the sea or tourism who feared it could seriously harm their livelihoods.

A total of 10 sites were proposed from Puffin Island on the eastern tip of Anglesey, along the Lleyn Peninsula, down Cardigan Bay to Dale and Skomer in Pembrokeshire.

Mr Davies says he now wants to understand more about the marine habitats and species already protected in Marine Protected Areas.

Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club wins a Conservation Award

At the 2012 SAA AGM in Daventry on April 21st our club was awarded the "George Arnold Trophy" for services to Conservation throughout 2011.

Among the many reasons for winning the award were; our membership of the Marine Conservation Society; having a section devoted to marine conservation in our club constitution; having a marine awareness officer on our club committee; having a Marine Conservation Section (this page) on our web site being involved in various marine conservation projects such a SeaSearch and helping out with NARCS.

This is the first time that our club has won such an award and we now have a reputation to keep up. It is therefore vitally important that all members understand this and that the Dive Marshalls ensure that the Club Rules are followed and upheld on dive days.

Coral Reefs: by Peter Rees

Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals.

Corals are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters containing few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, and are formed by polyps that live together in groups. The polyps secrete a hard carbonate exoskeleton which provides support and protection for the body of each polyp. Reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated waters.

Often called “rainforests of the sea”, coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. They occupy less than 1% of the world ocean surface, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for 25% of all marine species, including fishes, molluscs, echinoderms and sponges.

Paradoxically, coral reefs flourish even though they are surrounded by ocean waters that provide few nutrients. They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, particularly in the Pacific Ocean, but deep water and cold water corals exist on a much smaller scale.

Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services to tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection. The annual global economic value of coral reefs has been estimated at $30 billion. However, coral reefs are fragile ecosystems, partly because they are very sensitive to water temperature. They are under threat from climate change, ocean acidification, blast fishing, cyanide fishing for aquarium fish, overuse of reef resources, and harmful land-use practices. High nutrient levels such as those found in runoff from agricultural areas can harm reefs by encouraging excess algae growth.

Live coral should be thought of as small live animals embedded in calcium carbonate. It is a mistake to think of coral as plants or rocks. Coral consists of accumulations of individual animals called polyps, arranged in diverse shapes. Polyps are usually tiny, but they can range in size from a pinhead to about a foot across. Reefs grow as polyps along with other organisms deposit calcium carbonate, (the basis of coral), as a skeletal structure beneath and around themselves, pushing the coral's "head" or polyps upwards and outwards.

Waves, grazing fish (such as parrotfish), sea urchins, sponges, and other forces and organisms act as bioeroders, breaking down coral skeletons into fragments that settle into spaces in the reef structure or form sandy bottoms in associated reef lagoons.

Many other organisms living in the reef community contribute skeletal calcium carbonate in the same manner.

Coralline algae are important contributors to reef structure in those parts of the reef subjected to the greatest forces by waves (such as the reef front facing the open ocean). These algae deposit limestone in sheets over the reef surface, thereby strengthening it.

Reef-building or hermatypic corals are only found in the photic zone (above 50 m depth), the depth to which sufficient sunlight penetrates the water for photosynthesis to occur. Coral polyps do not photosynthesize, but have a symbiotic relationship with single-celled organisms called zooxanthellae; these cells within the tissues of the coral polyps carry out photosynthesis and produce excess organic nutrients that are then used by the coral polyps.

Because of this relationship, coral reefs grow much faster in clear water, which admits more sunlight. Indeed, the relationship is responsible for coral reefs in the sense that without their symbionts, coral growth would be too slow for the corals to form impressive reef structures. Corals get up to 90% of their nutrients from their zooxanthellae symbionts.

Types of Coral Reefs

Most reef scientists generally recognize three basic types of coral reefs:


1. Fringing Reefs
Barrier Reefs

The differences between these three main reef types are pronounced in terms of large-scale structure. Nonetheless, there is often a good deal of similarity between them within a given biogeographic region in terms of species composition and ecological interactions.

1. Fringing Reefs

The first major coral reef type is the fringing reef, which is a reef system growing fairly close to or directly from shore with an entirely shallow (less than about 10m) lagoon, or no lagoon at all.

These are by far the most common reef type in the Red Sea and Greater Caribbean region. Fringing reefs also surround many islands of French Polynesia (South Pacific) and the Indian Ocean.

Many islands within atolls have fringing reefs often referred to as the "house reef".

Patch Reefs are outcrops of coral usually offshore but often found within the lagoon of a Barrier Reef or Atoll.

Because they are situated relatively close to island or mainland shores, fringing reefs are generally the most susceptible to coastal development, agriculture, pollution, and other human activities that result in sedimentation and freshwater runoff.

2. Barrier Reefs

Barrier reefs (center photo; above) are reef systems that parallel the shore and are separated from it by a wide lagoon that contain at least some deep portions. Examples of large barrier reefs can be found in both the Indo-Pacific and Greater Caribbean, with the Great Barrier Reef of Australia being the prime example.

The very largest barrier reefs develop on the edges of continental shelves (e.g., Great Barrier Reef; Belize Barrier Reef). These massive reef complexes are sometimes referred to as "shelf barrier reefs" in order to differentiate them from the much smaller barrier reefs surrounding some islands found in the South Pacific (e.g, Bora-Bora).

The back reef zones and lagoons of shelf barrier reefs are often very extensive, in some cases lying over 100 miles from the mainland in some areas. In contrast, the barrier reef surrounding the narrow lagoon of Bora Bora (photo, above right) actually transitions into a fringing reef in a few places.

3. Atolls

Atolls are roughly circular (or occasionally horseshoe-shaped) oceanic reef complexes surrounding a large, deep central lagoon.

Atolls are most common in the Indo-Pacific region where over 300 atolls are found, but rare in the Greater Caribbean which houses only about 10-15. The four best developed Caribbean atolls are found off southern Mexico and the coast of Belize.

Atolls can exceed 100 miles in diameter and contain lagoons several thousand square miles in extent. The best developed parts of reefs surrounding atolls are on the windward side, where wave energy is greatest.


David Bellamy on Global Warming

FOR YEARS David Bellamy was one of the best known faces on TV.

A respected botanist and the author of 35 books, he had presented around 400 programmes over the years and was appreciated by audiences for his boundless enthusiasm.

Yet for more than 10 years he has been out of the limelight, shunned by bosses at the BBC where he made his name, as well as fellow scientists and environmentalists.

His crime? - Bellamy says he doesn’t believe in man-made global warming.

Bellamy says "When I first stuck my head above the parapet to say I didn’t believe what we were being told about global warming I had no idea what the consequences would be.

I am a scientist and I have to follow the directions of science but when I see that the truth is being covered up I have to voice my opinions.

According to official data, in every year since 1998 world temperatures have been getting colder, and in 2002 Arctic ice actually increased. Why, then, do we not hear about that?

The sad fact is that since I said I didn’t believe human beings caused global warming I’ve not been allowed to make a TV programme.

My absence has been noticed, because wherever I go I meet people who say: “I grew up with you on the television, where are you now?”

It was in 1996 that I criticised wind farms while appearing on Blue Peter and I also had an article published in which I described global warming as poppycock.

The truth is, I didn’t think wind farms were an effective means of alternative energy so I said so. Back then, at the BBC you had to toe the line and I wasn’t doing that.

Bellamy says we must stop destroying tropical rainforests.

At the beginning of this year there was a BBC show with four experts saying: “This is going to be the end of all the ice in the Arctic,” and hypothesising that it was going to be the hottest summer ever. Was it hell! It was very cold and very wet and now we’ve seen evidence that the glaciers in Alaska have started growing rapidly – and they’ve not grown for a long time.

I’ve seen evidence, which I believe, that says there has not been a rise in global temperature since 1998, despite the increase in carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere. This makes me think the global warmers are telling lies – carbon dioxide is not the driver.

The idiot fringe have accused me of being like a Holocaust denier, which is ludicrous. Climate change is all about cycles, it’s a natural thing and has always happened. When the Romans lived in Britain they were growing very good red grapes and making wine on the borders of Scotland. It was evidently a lot warmer.

If you were sitting next to me 10,000 years ago we’d be under ice. So thank God for global warming for ending that ice age; we wouldn’t be here otherwise.

People such as former American Vice-President Al Gore say that millions of us will die because of global warming which I think is a pretty stupid thing to say if you’ve got no proof. And Al Gore has no proof.

And my opinion is that there is absolutely no proof that carbon dioxide is anything to do with any impending catastrophe. The ­science has, quite simply, gone awry. In fact, it’s not even science any more, it’s anti-science.

There’s no proof, it’s just projections and if you look at the models people such as Gore use, you can see they cherry pick the ones that support their beliefs.

To date, the way the so-called Greens and the BBC, the Royal Society and even our political parties have handled this smacks of McCarthyism at its worst.

Global warming is part of a natural cycle and there’s nothing we can actually do to stop these cycles. The world is now facing spending a vast amount of money in tax to try to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist.

And how were we convinced that this problem exists, even though all the evidence from measurements goes against the fact? God knows. Yes, the lakes in Africa are drying up. But that’s not global warming. They’re drying up for the very ­simple reason that most of them have dams around them.

So the water that used to be used by local people is now used in the production of cut flowers and veget­ables for the supermarkets of Europe.

One of Al Gore’s biggest clangers was saying that the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan was drying up because of global warming. Well, everyone knows, because it was all over the news 20 years ago, that the Russians were growing cotton there at the time and that for every ton of cotton you produce you use a vast amount of water.

The thing that annoys me most is that there are genuine environmental problems that desperately require attention. I’m still an environmentalist, I’m still a Green and I’m still campaigning to stop the destruction of the biodiversity of the world. But money will be wasted on trying to solve this global warming “problem” that I would much rather was used for looking after the people of the world.

Being ignored by the likes of the BBC does not really bother me, not when there are much bigger problems at stake.

I might not be on TV any more but I still go around the world campaigning about these important issues. For example, we must stop the destruction of trop­ical rainforests, something I’ve been saying for 35 years.

Mother nature will balance things out but not if we interfere by destroying rainforests and overfishing the seas.


That is where the real environmental catastrophe could occur!!


Conservation Issues

Marine Conservation Zones - Update

The Welsh Assembly is dropping all 10 highly protected Marine Conservation Zones in Welsh seas.

Their new plan is to undertake a review of the current network and use new MCZ sites to fill any gaps.

It is good to hear that stakeholders will be kept informed and consulted on site management issues. But now, quick progress is essential - given that the MCZ sites should have been designated by 2012!


Microplastics - Scrub Them Out!

Did you know that tiny plastic particles (microbeads) are lurking in hundreds of toiletries available in the UK?

Businesses should be encouraged to stop this environmentally unfriendly use of plastic! Take the pledge to Scrub It Out!

A quick phase out of microbeads is crucial

Tiny particles of plastic have been added to possibly thousands of personal care products sold around the world.

These microbeads, hardly visible to the naked eye, flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out microbeads and that is the main reason why, ultimately, they contribute to the Plastic Soup swirling around the world’s oceans.

Sea creatures absorb or eat microbeads. These microbeads are passed along the marine food chain. Since humans are ultimately at the top of this food chain, it is likely that we are also absorbing microbeads from the food we eat.

Microbeads are not biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment, they are impossible to remove.

Positive action on behalf of manufacturers has meant that more and more of these microbeads are being removed from personal care products and replaced by naturally biodegradable alternatives. It is still a far cry to say that all personal care products are free from plastic microbeads though.


Basking Shark Code of Conduct

The Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is one of the few species that has emerged from being an important commercially targeted fish, to becoming a charismatic wildlife ambassador.

Once heavily targeted for their liver oil, meat and fins, the last UK fishing operation ceased only in the mid-1990s and in 1998 this species received protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

Now protected, this species cannot be targeted, retained or disturbed in British waters.

Every year, holidaymakers flock to the coastline in the hope of seeing these enigmatic sharks for themselves.

Reaching lengths of up to 12m, Basking Sharks are the largest fish in British waters and the second largest in the world after the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus).

One of only three plankton-feeding shark species, these gentle giants re-appear in our coastal waters each spring and summer.

The following guidelines have been designed to help boat handlers reduce the risk of killing, injuring or
harassing Basking Sharks:

Boat Handlers:

  • Restrict your speed to below 6 knots and avoid sudden speed changes.

  • When closer than 100 m switch the engine to neutral to avoid injuring sharks.

  • Avoid disturbing dense groups of sharks as you may disrupt courtship behaviour.

  • Be extremely cautious in areas where Basking Sharks have been seen breaching.

  • Jet-skis are incompatible with Basking Sharks and should stay at least 500 m away.

  • Remember that for every shark visible on the surface there are likely to be more hidden just below.

The following guidelines have been designed to help swimmers and divers reduce the risk of injuring or
harassing Basking Sharks:

Divers, Snorkellers and Swimmers:

  • Do not try to touch the sharks.

  • Maintain a distance of 4 m from each shark and be wary of the tail.

  • Groups of swimmers should stay together and ideally remain at the surface.

  • Restrict the number of people in the water at any one time.

  • Take plenty of pictures but avoid flash photography which can scare the sharks. Photograph any characteristic features which may help re-identify the shark in the future.

  • Do not use underwater propelled devices.


  • Aim to anticipate the direction of movement of the sharks and enter the water 100 m ahead of the sharks.

  • Maintain a distance 4 metres away from
    each shark.

Under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside
Act (1981) it is illegal to kill, injure or recklessly
disturb Basking Sharks in British waters.

Any person committing such an ofence could face
up to 6 months in prison.








Thousands of jellyfish on Welsh beach

Thousands of barrel jellyfish have been found wahed up on the shore at Cefn Sidan beach in Pembrey near Llanelli.

A further 50 of them, thought to have been attracted by the high sea temperature, were also spotted at Burry Port Harbour on Saturday.

The slimy creatures known as Barrel Jellyfish and sometimes called Dustbin Lids are the largest jellyfish species found in UK waters.

They usually make an appearance every year but their numbers have increased this year, partly due to the warm spell of weather and the high levels of nutrients in the sea.

They are mostly harmless and lead amazing lives being a vital part of our wildlife. It is likely the tide will take them back out to sea over the next few days.

The rare leatherback turtle eat the jellyfish and sightings are expected across the Carmarthenshire coast this summer.

Barrel jellyfish numbers have increased in recent years as mild winters allow plankton, which they feed on, to thrive.

They have a mild sting, said to be similar to that of nettles, and which can cause a rash.

This sighting comes the day after a photographer approached a 'dead snake' on another Welsh beach only to find it was very much alive.


British Sharks

Contrary to popular belief sharks do occur around the coasts of Britain.

In fact there are over 30 species, including some of the fastest, rarest, largest and most highly migratory sharks in the world. But sadly over 50% of the UK’s shark species are under threat.

At least 21 species of shark are resident inhabitants and commonly found around the coasts of Britain all year round, such as the Smallspotted Catshark, Porbeagle Shark and Basking Shark.

Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako Sharks are seasonal visitors, appearing in British waters in summer during their trans-Atlantic migrations. A few species, Smooth Hammerhead and Frilled Shark may be vagrants, occurring infrequently off the British coast, with their main distribution ranges being outside British waters.

At least 11 shark species, including the Portuguese Dogfish, Black Dogfish, Kitefin Shark and Gulper Sharks are only found in deep water.

British Fish Stock Recovery

A new report suggests fish stocks are turning a corner.

MCS says enough time must given before we can start getting some stocks back on the menu.

A new report published today by the University of Aberdeen indicates that some fish species in the North East Atlantic region are showing signs of recovery, with stock numbers beginning to stabilise and showing signs of growth

The authors of the paper go so far as to link this encouraging news with the management measures laid out in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) over the last decade.They warn that the CFP, which is currently being reviewed, needs to be seen for its positive impacts, as well as fix its well-publicised weaknesses

Jim Masters, MCS Aquaculture and Fisheries Programme Manager, says "This report makes really encouraging reading, and comes at an important time. We welcome any data that indicates a recovery, however small, and we are optimistic that the outlook for fishing and fish stocks is improving in some cases.

It is vital to note, however, that many of the species studied are only at the foothills of real recovery. It will take time for stock levels to recover to their full potential, which will deliver greater benefit us all in the long-run. Meanwhile we must continue our efforts to call for a continued recovery, confident that fish stocks at full reproductive levels are both possible and more profitable.

"Reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy should further improve the situation for all European fish stocks: a continued reduction in fishing pressure, more sustainable catching methods and a legal requirement to end over-fishing will all help speed up the recovery forecast in this report."

MCS believes that this is particularly true for cod - an iconic species for us here in the UK. Recent headlines have portrayed the current status of stocks in the North Sea as a reason to encourage consumers to "eat cod again". This is a miss-representation of the situation, and is not supported by the best available science.

Jim Masters continues "Cod is showing signs of recovery in some places, but a big increase in fishing effort at this stage would leave stocks vulnerable to heading straight back into crisis point. What we're saying is that, whilst there may be signs of recovery, there is a long way to go before stocks are at a healthy state as defined by science.

If we start suggesting people can eat cod 'worry' free right now the North Sea stocks will quickly slip back to dangerously low levels. We must be patient if we want to return to eating cod from the North Sea with confidence."

Sharks of the Bahamas






Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club wins a Conservation Award

At the 2012 SAA AGM in Daventry on April 21st our club was awarded the "George Arnold Trophy" for services to Conservation throughout 2011.

Among the many reasons for winning the award were; our membership of the Marine Conservation Society; having a section devoted to marine conservation in our club constitution; having a marine awareness officer on our club committee; having a Marine Conservation Section (this page) on our web site being involved in various marine conservation projects such a SeaSearch and helping out with NARCS.

This is the first time that our club has won such an award and we now have a reputation to keep up. It is therefore vitally important that all members understand this and that the Dive Marshalls ensure that the Club Rules are followed and upheld on dive days.

Pembrokeshire National Park

With the Pembrokeshire National park turning 60 years old this year, I think it only fitting to focus on the Pembrokeshire Coast, with its breath-taking scenery, diverse wildlife, and it's beautiful weather (well most of the time), as most of our diving takes place down in West Wales, I thought that it might be interesting to know a little about the parks history, and its various marine ecosystems.

Pembrokeshire national park encompasses the entire South-West coastline of Wales, from Manobier around to Abereiddy, including the islands of Skomer, Ramsey, Grassholm, Skokholm, and The Smalls. The park has been in existence since February, 1952, covering around 240 square miles, 180 miles of which is coastline which can be walked, uninterrupted, along the "Pembrokeshire Coastal Path". Also the park became a European Marine Special Area of Conservation in December 2004, which gives the UK a total of 81 SAC sites, and making the park part of the 2% of the UK seas now incorporated into SAC sites.

A Map of the Coastal Area covered under the European SAC

Image taken from: http://www.pembrokeshiremarinesac.org.uk/images/Map_1.gif

The national park contains many different ecosystems, each with its own collection of endangered and rare species, yet as divers the ecosystems we are the most familiar with, are the marine environments. There are a number of habitats around the Pembrokeshire coast, from the cold water reefs that stretch westward into the Irish sea, surrounding Skomer and The Smalls, are home to a great variety of marine wildlife, from cold-water Corals, Sponges, Sea Urchins, Starfish, Jellyfish, Crustaceans(Lobsters and Crab), species of fish, and larger mammal species of Seals and Porpoises. A prime example of this marine habitat are located on the north and south sides of Skomer, where many rare species can be found, such as the Scarlett and Gold Star Coral, Balanophyllia regia.

A Photograph of a Scarlett and Gold Start Coral

Image Taken From: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/imgs/o_balreg5.jpg

The immense population of seabird species on the isolated islands of Grassholm, Skomer and Skokholm, such as Puffins, Cormorants, many species of Gulls, Terns, and Kittiwakes. All of which use the jagged cliffs, or grassy tops of the islands for nesting, and the plentiful surrounding seas for feeding, with many of these seabirds migrating in the winter months. These islands also house the West Wales collection of Common and Grey Seals, which live, feed and raise their young on the rocky outcrops, pebble beaches and cliffs. With West Wales population of Grey Seals being the most southerly breeding population known in Europe.

A Photograph of a Grey Seal

Image Taken From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/images/ic/credit/640x395/g/gr/gray_seal/gray_seal_1.jpg

I hope that this has been an interesting read and maybe if you want to know more about Pembroke National Park, the websites below contain further information.



Underwater Photography Equipment Sale

Dear Llantrisant Divers

My name is Louise Ling, former member 1996ish. I am looking to sell my underwater photography equipment which I purchased second hand (very good condition) in 2007 from wetpixel.com, from Austria (its Subal housing). Reason for selling is that I havent used it since 2010 and am also looking to upgrade. All parts will need to be serviced as havent use equipment since 2010. Would prefer to sell as entire unit.

Equipment located in Beddau and would prefer a local sale rather than sending by UPS. Let me know if you're interested and we can talk prices.

I thought I would send the enquiry your way first before I post it onto various websites, althought I tried FB but not much success.

Please can you circulate this and if anyone's interested to call me on 07581 300756

email: louise_ling@hotmail.com / linglouise77@gmail.com.




Packing list as follows:

  • 1 SUBAL housing for the digital SLR-camera Nikon D100 & 1Nikon D100 digital SLR-camera (Both had a service in 2009 - Bought for €2400)

  • 1 Dome-port with O-ring protection cover (Domeport DP-SWB SUBAL 6 - Bought for €350)

  • 1 SUBAL housing for Nikon Strobe & 1 Nikon Strobe Speedlight SB 80 DX (Flash SB 80DX Subal Housing (without changing possiblities underwater) and a cable -Bought for €350)

  • 1 Strobe cable Nikon

  • 1 Nikon 20Mm F2.8D Af Nikkor Lens (good for wide angle shots) Bought for €400

  • 1 Nikon Nikkor Zoom lens 18 mm - 70 mm - F/3.5-4.5 - Nikon F Bought for €275

  • 1 Pelican 1510 Hard Case with Foam Bought for €190

  • 1 Battery-pack

  • 1 Battery Charger and power cable

  • 1 Toolpack (Silicon-grease, 3 diff. wrenches)

  • 1 Strobe-arm system (not pictured - but in my dive bag) Bought for €275

Special Notice


Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire

Core Sample and Deposit of Scientific Instruments

Notice is hereby given that on or about 23rd August 2011 for a period of approximately 5 days, the vessel "Island Trader II" (10m aluminium landing craft) and a support vessel will be involved in removing a seabed core sample and installing scientific instruments in the northern part of Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire within the vicinity of grid coordinates 51 Degrees 52'.66N, 05 Degrees 19'.56W

The works will consist of diver activity and lowering equipment to the seabed. Work will be carried out in daylight hours only and no marker buoys will be present.

Mariners are advised to navigate with caution within 200m of this vessel during the works.

Tidal Energy Limited
Vision House
Oak Tree Court
Cardiff Gate Business Park
Cardiff, CF23 8RS

Tel No. 02920 730900

Web Site: www.tidalenergyltd.com

15th August 2011

Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park Authority Consultation Document
Probably, the most important section for us as divers is the section below found on pages 62 & 63 of the document, in particular the paragraph highlighted in blue:

Please Note: The deadline for any comments, suggestions, etc. is January 31st 2011

5.4.4 Marinas, harbours and slipways

The Welsh Assembly Government's Watersports strategy, "Catching the Wave" recorded 11 harbours, marinas and yacht stations in Pembrokeshire. In addition, planning permission has been granted for 2 major new marina developments at Fishguard and Pembroke Dock, providing 540 and 260 berths respectively when complete.

The operation of the marina in Fishguard in particular will need careful management because to the immediate West the overfall areas off Strumble Head are important for cetaceans and rafting seabirds, the cliffed beaches of much of the North coast are critical sites for seal pupping and much of the coast as far as Cemaes Head is greatly valued for its remote and wild qualities.

Milford Haven Water Ranger. The Milford Haven Port Authority and the PCNPA have worked together for many years to create a water ranger post, specifically to support the Milford Haven harbourmaster on recreation issues. This can involve patrols, monitoring, enforcement, education and assistance to all recreational users.

These major sites are supplemented by around 20 smaller harbours and mooring areas around the coastline outside the Haven, mostly locally regulated and charged at low annual rates.

There are around 50 slipways and launching points in the county, these are mainly unmanaged and give free, unregulated access to the estuary and sea.

Actions for section 5.4.4

Many of these slipways especially around the Dale peninsula are at the end of long, single track roads or in tight locations which are not suitable for launching increasingly large vessels. We will seek to encourage use of more appropriate sites for large craft – e.g. dive boats and fishing boats, where there is better infrastructure and parking.

We recognise the social and economic benefits that these sites bring to the local economy. However the sheer number and range of launch sites means that it is hard to introduce management to ensure that users and operators follow environmental codes of practice and are suitably insured and skilled to operate their craft.

From the point of view of sustainability, tranquillity and impact on other users and wildlife, we would wish to promote sailing, rowing and other non-motorised recreation in particular from these sites.

We will look for sustainability improvements in marinas and harbours and work though partnerships such as the Milford Haven Waterway Recreation Group to encourage good practice in dealing with such issues as sewage discharges, removal of scraped antifouling, control of bilge water discharges and provision of recycling facilities.

Important web links:

We will work with partners to develop better launch facilities for dive craft at more accessible locations (e.g. Gelliswick, Goodwick).
Ensure that, as part of the development agreement of any new marinas, the operators agree a code of good practice with their clients and that this is effectively applied.
Encourage local adoption and where necessary, charging for slipway management, as a way of managing access points and meeting maintenance costs.
Recognise that the ability to manage PWCs on slipways and on the water is limited because of low numbers and many launch points. Seek to discourage use in the National Park, through publicity and information.





PWC = Personal Water Craft
(would include club boats)


  1. We would not be opposed to a reduction of launch sites providing there is adequate provision for divers to access the dive sites around the Haven, the islands and St. Brides Bay.
  2. We have our own Code of Conduct which we adhere to when using launch sites within the National Park
  3. We would be happy to comply with any additions to a code of conduct to promote sustainability and reduce the impact on the local environment and wildlife.
  4. Our boats are ALWAYS operated by suitably trained personel
  5. Our boats are ALWAYS insured against 3rd party liability
  6. We would be happy to become partners to help in the development and sustainability of launch sites and becoming involved in any decision making process.
  7. The use of Gelliswick and Goodwick in "Action 1" as examples of launch sites for dive boats, presumably, does not exclude the possibility of other launch sites being used.
Haven Diver’s Presentation

On Saturday 10th September, Haven Diving Services hosted an evening especially for recreational divers. The event which was held at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Milford Haven was attended by sixty people representing dive clubs from all around Wales.

Tom Luddington, Activities Liaison Officer for the Countryside Council for Wales opened the evening and gave some interesting statistics, there has been an 18% increase in visitor numbers coming specifically for bird watching, 18% more walkers and 6% more people engaging in water sports. Diver numbers however have remained static. Tom went on to say that the National Park was voted second best coastal region by National Geographic.

Following on from Tom, Sue Burton from the Marine Conservation Society showed a selection of slides illustrating life below the waves. The images taken mostly by local divers showed fish life, sponges and crustaceans. Sue went on to talk about the valuable work carried out by MCS which has contributed to improvements in water quality and fish stocks.

She urged people not to become complacent and praised the work carried out by groups such as Narcs who encourage people to get involved in beach and underwater clean ups as a way of improving conditions around the Welsh Coastline.

Disappointingly, there no-one from fisheries protection available to attend. Tom Luddington made a valiant attempt to provide answers to the confusions that often arise around take limits but it would have been helpful if there had been a fisheries’ officer present as divers had many questions about commercial lobster fishing that needed answers.

Phil. Newman, Marine Nature Officer working around the reserve, explained the work carried out by himself and a team of dedicated wardens which included monitoring activity both on the water and around the islands. He told how the delicate balance of the eco-system could be affected by human intervention and encouraged divers to be mindful of certain beaches during the seal breeding season and reminded people about the no anchoring rule which helped protect the reef.

Phil made divers aware of the guides available free of charge including a waterproof version that should be carried on every dive boat.

After a short break which included a superb buffet, Dave Kennard, from Haven Dive Services and a panel including Charles Mathieson, Head of Recreation and Tourism invited questions from the floor.

There were queries and observations about the damage to the sea bed caused by scallop dredging and questions about the number of lobster pots being used particularly around Skomer.
These were answered by Sue Burton and Phil Newman. Charles Mathieson.

In answer to issues around diver access they acknowledged that divers often have to share facilities with other beach users and this was not always ideal.

During discussions about a Diver Code of Conduct it was agreed that current guidelines were out of date, Dave Wakelam, Chairman of the Welsh Association of sub-Aqua Clubs, invited divers to send suggested inclusions for a new guide to the Association via the e-mail link.

The last presentation of the evening was an interesting set of images of wrecks in and around the Haven. Mark Gosling and a team from Cardiff BSAC had used a side scanner to find wreck sites, some of which were well known to divers, others though weren’t including a recent wreck discovered off Crow Rock. Mark’s presentation included some excellent video footage.

The meeting ended at 9-30pm and people were invited to help themselves to an array of useful literature from the Marine Conservation Society and the Countryside Council for Wales. Tom Luddington’s request for a show of hands in favour of a similar event next year brought a positive response and Haven Divers were congratulated for a very informative presentation.


Orcas spotted off Pembrokeshire

Birdwatchers on a day trip off the west Wales coast spotted two killer whales instead.

The 40-strong group were training their telescopes and binoculars out to sea at Fishguard when they spotted a 6ft fin cutting through the water.

There have been reports of the mammals off the coast before but they are still a rare sighting.

Cliff Benson, who was among the party from the mid Pembrokeshire section of the Wildlife Trust South and West Wales, said it "blew your socks off."

Killer whales can grow up to 28 feet long and eat seals, dolphins and other whales.

Mr Benson said: "We did not expect to see anything at first because some jet skis shot by and scared most of the birds away.

"But then somebody saw a big fin and there were about 40 of us all with telescopes and binoculars so that got us looking for things. Suddenly there were several big fins out there.

"The first ones were definitely Risso's dolphins, which are bigger than the usual flipper-type dolphins.

"Then somebody saw an even bigger fin about six foot tall and the white eye patches and white flanks of what everybody recognises from the Free Willy films - an orca or killer whale.

"There were two of them, possibly a male and female.
"They were about a mile off the coast. You would not have seen them without telescopes or binoculars, but they are there. It blows your socks off."

As well as killer whales, several species of shark have been recorded in the coastal waters, including the enormous basking shark, according to the Pembrokeshire National Park Authority.

It said pilot whales and sun fish had also made appearances but sightings were relatively rare.


Protect Chagos

Now, before its too late, there is an opportunity to save one of the greatest marine environments left on earth.

The Chagos Archipelago represents a magnificent conservation opportunity that could be of lasting benefit to humanity.

There can be few places on this planet that represent better value for leveraging spectacular returns.

What is needed is vision and a leadership initiative by Britain to create the Chagos as an iconic, pristine area held in trust for the future of the world community.

The Chagos Archipelago also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory is an area of 210,000 square miles and is located about 300 miles south of the Maldives.

STOP PRESS: (see adjacent article)
LONDON 01:04:2010 — Secretary of State David Miliband today designated the Chagos, Archipelago as a no-take marine reserve.

This declaration will make it the largest marine protected area in the world, an area twice the size of the U.K.

The combination of tropical islands, unspoiled coral reefs and adjacent oceanic abyss makes this area comparable in global importance to the Great Barrier Reef or Galapagos Islands.

Bite Back Campaign

Sharks are widely regarded as a predatory 'eating machines' that don't discriminate between fish or humans. This irrational fear has earned them a reputation as being dangerous and worthy of contempt.

As a result, sharks have taken on trophy-like qualities for the people that hunt and eat them. This lust for money and a taste for the exotic has landed sharks in deep trouble.

Right now, sharks are among the most valuable and vulnerable animals in the sea.

Massive consumer demand for shark fins and other shark related products have created an industry motivated by high return.

Shark fins have become one of the world's most precious commodities reaching figures of up to $256 per pound. It was recently reported that the dorsal fin of a whale shark alone fetched $15,000 at market.

It is barely surprising then that more than 125 countries around the world now trade in shark products contributing to an uncontrollable surge in the number of shark taken from the oceans. In a little over 50 years the slaughter of sharks has risen 400 per cent to approximately 800,000 metric tons per year.

By 2017 it is anticipated that 20 species of shark could become extinct due to hunting, indiscriminate fishing techniques and, ultimately, man's greed.

Currently more than 100 million sharks are taken from the seas each year - a rate at which they simply cannot survive.
They cannot survive this onslaught because, unlike many other fish, most large sharks don't reach sexual maturity until seven years old or even later, and then only give birth to a few pups each year.

Right now, they are simply being caught and killed faster than they can reproduce.

Bite Back Web SiteBite-Back and its supporters together can encourage consumers to make informed choices, change their habits and actively motivate and inspire establishments that sell shark products to stop.

When we stop buying shark meat and fins, they'll stop fishing for it.

See the Bite Back Campaign for more information on how you can help reduce the trade in shark meat and other threatened species.

Marine Coastal Access Bill

In late 2009 Parliament will enact the Marine and Coastal Access Bill. This new law will establish a new network of marine conservation zones to protect species and habitats of national importance.

The Welsh Assembly Government has the aim for the Welsh marine environment, as set out in the Environment Strategy for Wales, to ensure clean seas that will enable healthy and functioning ecosystems that are biologically diverse and resilient.

In order to achieve this aim, however, it is vital to understand what is biologically significant in Wales’ marine environment, in order than conservation zones are correctly sited to achieve the conservation aims intended.

Throughout 2009, volunteer SCUBA divers have surveyed the biology of the Pembrokeshire coast, through the Marine Conservation Society’s Seasearch programme, in a weekly programme of intensive marine surveys.

In this open public lecture, Ms. Vicky Swales (Seasearch Instructor) will present the results of the 2009 marine surveys and discuss the significance of the biogeography and importance of marine species for Wales. The likely impact of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill on Wales, and the introduction of Marine Protected Areas will also be discussed.

Anyone with an interest in marine biology, marine biogeography and SCUBA diving is more than welcome to attend.

Date: Wednesday 14th October
Venue: Room GT9012,
Glyntaf Campus,
University of Glamorgan
Time: 19:30
Contact: Simon Jones, sdjones2@glam.ac.uk
or 01443 654 490

Portuguese Man-O-War in Pembrokeshire

BATHERS are being warned about the possible presence of Portuguese man o’war jellyfish on Pembrokeshire’s beaches.

During the last week, four of the creatures — which carry a poisonous sting in their trailing tentacles — have been found washed up on Amroth beach in the south of the county with another six found on the water’s edge.

Lifeguards spotted two more just along the coast on the South Beach in the popular resort of Tenby with another three being spotted in Mill Bay near St Anne’s Head at the mouth of the Milford Haven waterway.

The notices, which are being erected by the county council at more than 30 of Pembrokeshire’s Blue Flag and Green Flag beaches, warn of the possible presence of Portuguese man o’war jellyfish.

Swimmers are also advised to stay in lifeguarded areas where possible.

Anyone seeing a jellyfish is advised to inform the lifeguard or contact a beach warden on 07770 574242 or 07721 861005.

Council spokesman, Len Mullins, said: “The Portuguese man o’war is a rare visitor to these shores and the chances of swimmers actually encountering one in the water while bathing are extremely slim.

“However they do possess a sting said to be ten times stronger than an ordinary jellyfish and swimmers should be aware of their possible presence.”

Treatment for the sting – which leaves whip-like, red welts on the skin – involves washing with salt water and then applying ice to dull the pain.

The Portuguese Man-O-War

Anyone unfamiliar with the biology of the venomous Portuguese man-of-war would likely mistake it for a jellyfish. Not only is it not a jellyfish, it's not even an "it," but a "they." The Portuguese man-of-war is a siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together.

The man-of-war comprises four separate polyps. It gets its name from the uppermost polyp, a gas-filled bladder, or pneumatophore, which sits above the water and somewhat resembles an old warship at full sail. Man-of-wars are also known as bluebottles for the purple-blue color of their pneumatophores.

The tentacles are the man-of-war's second organism. These long, thin tendrils can extend 165 feet (50 meters) in length below the surface, although 30 feet (10 meters) is more the average. They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly. But beware—even dead man-of-wars washed up on shore can deliver a sting.

Muscles in the tentacles draw prey up to a polyp containing the gastrozooids or digestive organisms. A fourth polyp contains the reproductive organisms.

Man-of-wars are found, sometimes in groups of 1,000 or more, floating in warm waters throughout the world's oceans. They have no independent means of propulsion and either drift on the currents or catch the wind with their pneumatophores. To avoid threats on the surface, they can deflate their air bags and briefly submerge.


The Great Stingray Migration

Gulf of Mexico

Like autumn leaves floating in a sunlit pond, this vast expanse of magnificent stingrays animates the bright blue seas of the Gulf of Mexico.

Taken off the coast of Mexico's Holbox Island by amateur photographer Sandra Critelli, this breathtaking picture captures the migration of thousands of rays as they follow the clockwise current from Mexico's Yucatan peninsula to western Florida.

Measuring up to 6ft 6in across, poisonous golden cow-nose rays migrate in groups - or 'fevers' - of up to 10,000 as they glide their way silently towards their summer feeding grounds.

They migrate twice yearly: north in late spring (as pictured here) and south in late autumn.

There are around 70 species of stingray in the world's oceans, but these cow-nose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) have distinctive, highdomed heads, giving them a curiously bovine appearance.

But despite their placid looks, they are still armed with a poisonous stinger, which can be deadly to humans (even though sharks, their main predators, are more likely to provoke them).

The stinger, a razor-sharp spine that grows from the creature's whip-like tail, can reach almost 15 inches in length and carries a heady dose of venom.

It was a similar stinger that killed the hugely popular Australian naturalist Steve Irwin in 2006.

But even equipped with this powerful punch, cow-nose stingrays are shy and non-threatening in large 'fevers'. Even when isolated, they will attack only when cornered or threatened.
Unlike other stingrays, they rarely rest on the seabed (where unsuspecting humans can step on them) and prefer to be on the move.

They migrate long distances, and can be found as far south as the Caribbean and as far north as New England.

They use their extended pectoral fins to swim, and often turn upside down, curling their fin tips above the surface of the water - leaving terrified swimmers convinced that they have seen a shark.

Their flexible fins also come in handy when rustling up food. By flapping them rapidly over the seabed, they stir up sand and reveal crabs, shellfish and oysters, which they then feed on using their powerful, grinding teeth.

Their particular fondness for shellfish has made them public enemy number one with oyster fishermen.

But despite this, their numbers are exploding, thanks in part to rising sea temperatures. They mate every winter, and females produce a litter of five to ten young.

Stingrays (which are related to skates and sharks) have never been widely fished for food, mainly because of their rubbery flesh.

But barbecued stingray and dried fins are common in Singapore and Malaysia, while pickled stingray remains a traditional favourite in Iceland.


A letter from Vicky Swales

(former club marine conservation officer)

Dear All

Hope you all have had a good summer of diving! We have had several good Seasearch dives in the last few weeks with some good visibility and interesting seabed habitats but sadly no Mantis Shrimps!. Those of you that would still like to join us on a Seasearch dive for the remainder of 2006 have a choice of three dates left.

Wednesday 30th August, Sunday 10th September and Sunday 17th September. If your interested in joining us then please fill in the attachment and return ASAP as places are filling up quickly.

We also have a Seasearch Observer course on Saturday 16th September, 9am - 4.30pm at Hampshire Wildlife Trust in Botley. Again please fill in the attachment if interested.

I would also like to ask if anyone is interested in attending a Seasearch Surveyor course? I know that several of you have enquired earlier on in the year about the Surveyor course and we are hoping to run one in October subject to demand. I have provisionally booked the weekend of the 7th/8th. You need to already be a Seasearch observer and have a up-do-date log book with all paperwork signed off. This two day course does requires a a dive on the second day for completion. Please can you reply by Monday 11th September to confirm if you are interested in attending so I can finalise arrangements.

I do hope that you can join us on a Seasearch dive soon.

Cheers, Vicky

Seasearch Dives

Volunteers are to meet at Hayling Island Ferry Pontoon on the Eastney side at 10am for the 30th August, and 9am for both dives in September.

Cost of dives is £15 subject to weather conditions. Dive site, IOW. Further details will be send once your booking form is received.

Please particularly make note of the following points: Copies of the following must be shown to the Dive Marshal before boarding the vessel:

  1. Diving qualification (and training agency).
  2. Date of and expiry of doctors medical examination or UK sport diver medical self-certification.
  3. Who provides your diver third party insurance? (e.g BSAC, SAA, DAN, PADI) if you are not already insured, please ensure you arrange cover prior to the course.
  4. Date of most recent sea dive (log book) Due to Health and Safety requirements, divers who do not show all paperwork on the day will not be allowed to dive, so it is important to make sure that all information is presented to the Dive Marshal.

Divers are advised that a 'Seasearch dive' should not be their first sea dive or deepest dive of the season. It is recommended that a UK 'warm-up' dive has already taken place.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact me, for further information about Seasearch details can be found on http://www.seasearch.org.uk

Seasearch Observer Course

This is a one-day course aimed at giving divers new to the project and new to marine recording a basic grounding. At the end of the course you should be able to complete the Seasearch Observation Form and take part in Seasearch Dives either on your own, with your club or on dives organised by Seasearch Partners.

During the course you'll learn about Seasearch - its aims, history and achievements, a basic introduction to the variety of marine life in UK waters, recognising and classifying marine habitats, position fixing, and how to fill in the Observation Form. The day concludes with a 'video dive' and an opportunity to fill in a form without even getting wet! The course includes a splash proof course pack and everything you'll need to go ahead and get started.

The tutors are all divers themselves and drawn from our partner organisations and keen Seasearchers. A real dive isn't a part of the course but sometimes one is arranged locally for you to practice your techniques with a tutor on hand. During the course you'll get a Seasearch Qualification booklet. Once you have completed 5 for real (two on dives with a Tutor present) you can get signed up as a Seasearch Observer.

Seasearch Surveyor Course

The Surveyor Course is aimed at experienced Seasearch Observers and others with a good background knowledge of marine life and marine recording. The aim is to enable you to complete the Seasearch Survey Form which is used on most of the expeditionary Seasearch dives and which gives much more detailed information for future conservation purposes.

The course lasts two days and includes a dive on the second day. The Course content is an expansion of the Observer Course and covers a much wider range of marine life and habitat classification. Again we use video on the first day and you fill in practice forms both from the video and from the dive itself. The course is assessed and successful participants can become Seasearch Surveyors after completing a further five forms.

Vicky Swales


Mantas in Sharm

April is a month to celebrate in Sharm as the summer season finally arrives.

Each year from April to September divers are sometimes lucky enough to have the company of manta rays on the local dive sites.

So far this April there have been numerous manta ray sightings up and down the coastline. No longer is 'Ras Mohammed' or 'Tiran' the most popular choice, the 'local' dive sites are the place to be!

Manta rays, easily distinguished by their large mandibles, are the biggest winged creatures that inhabit the oceans. The largest known specimen measured more than 7.6 metres across with a weight of about 2,300 kilos. But here in Sharm a smaller, yet still impressive 3-4 metres is more common.

Mantas feed mainly on plankton filtered from the water passing through their gills as they swim. Incidentally their top speed is only 7 miles per hour and for those of you that have had the chance to dive with them before, you'll know it seems like they are going much faster.

Scuba diving with a manta ray is an amazing experience, often ended with a cheer of delight from the divers upon reaching the surface.

They are quite curious animals and they are often known to approach scuba divers, either enjoying the interaction and playing with our bubbles or simply wanting to see what is happening.

These magnificent creatures are also frequently seen feeding near or at the surface so those snorkelling also might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse.

When diving with manta rays it is very important to remember that they are wild animals and should be observed only. The less action a scuba diver takes to scare a manta ray, such as chasing it to get a better look or to get that perfect picture, the more likely it is that the manta ray will hang around giving an unforgettable experience.

Happy manta ray spotting this summer in Sharm!


UK creates world’s largest marine reserve

Britain has created a 210,000 sq mile marine nature reserve around the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago, making it the largest area yet designated for the protection of marine species.

The group of some 50 islands, a British protectorate, lies 1000 miles south of India. It features 220 coral species, including the world’s largest coral atoll.

Twice the size of Britain, the new reserve is fully protected, with all commercial fishing and extraction banned.

Rich in fish species, the Chagos Islands are an important breeding ground for important populations of oceanic sharks, dolphins and green and hawkbill sea turtles.

Protection from fishing will give these and other creatures, some of which are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species, a chance to regroup.

In addition, because the Chagos Island reefs recovered well from El Nino-instigated coral destruction in the late 90s, they represent a key base by which to judge the recovery of other affected coral areas.

The decision by Britain to protect the Ghagos Islands came after a four-month public consultation on the islands’ management. More than 275,000 people and organisations from around the world participated.

Its establishment will double the global coverage of the world's oceans under protection which desperately need better protection.

In 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, the UK has secured a conservation legacy which is unrivalled in scale and significance, demonstrating to the world that it is a leader in conserving the world’s marine resources for the benefit of future generations.

Partners have included the Chagos Conservation Trust, The Pew Environment Group, the Marine Conservation Society, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, The Royal Society, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), The Linnean Society of London and Prof C Sheppard.

After the Chagos Archipelago, the world’s second-largest marine reserve, established by President George W Bush in 2006, lies around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

At 140,000 square miles, it is a shade larger than Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.


Welsh Minister named "Shark Champion"

London: The Shark Trust awards; Huw Irranca Davies, UK Minister for Marine and Natural Environment, the status of ‘Shark Champion’.

The Minister received a Shark Champion award today in recognition of the UK’s prohibition on the removal of shark fins at sea, and the associated requirement that UK vessels around the world must land sharks with their fins naturally attached.

The Shark Trust Director of Conservation, Ali Hood, said: "This award to Mr Irranca Davies and his counterpart in Scotland Mr Lochhead, is the first of its kind to policy makers and reflects the decisive action in addressing the issue of shark finning. It also recognises the UK's ongoing efforts in urging all EU Member States to follow their lead.”

The Shark Trust has advocated for a change in the EU Shark Finning Legislation since it’s adoption in 2003. Hood went on to say: "An end to special fishing permits and a requirement to land sharks with their fins naturally attached greatly improves the opportunity for effective shark management. It also marks significant progress towards implementation of aspects of the EU Community Plan of Action for Sharks."

On receiving his award Mr Irranca Davies said: “Sharks are some of the most vulnerable species on Earth and action must be taken to protect them. I am proud that my decision has allowed the UK to lead the way in Europe by ending the permits which allow fins to be removed at sea.

Now all UK registered vessels will have to land sharks with their fins attached wherever in the world they are fishing. Not only will this end the wasteful practice of removing fins and discarding the bodies at sea, but we’ll also be able to get better scientific evidence to help conservation.

“I am grateful to the Shark Trust for their support as I continue to push in Europe to end the issuing of these permits for all European countries.”

Shark finning remains the single greatest threat to shark populations. The decision to prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea influences not only UK vessels within EU waters but also overseas. With an active fleet of UK pelagic longline vessels in the Indian Ocean and around the coast of Africa catching significant numbers of pelagic sharks legislation of this nature is vital to enable effective shark fisheries management.

Container Ship Hits Jackson Reef

A large cargo vessel has gone hard aground on Woodhouse Reef, in the northern Red Sea.

The 260m-long, Hong Kong-flagged CSCL Hamburg hit the reef, between the Sinai coast and Tiran Island, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, while en route to Singapore.

Diving operators and others are relieved that, so far, there appear to have been no leakages from the hull.

Damage is reportedly limited to the bow area, but could be severe as the ship ran on to the reef at a speed of about 20 knots. There were no injuries to crew or loss of cargo.

The extent of damage to corals has yet to be assessed, and the diving community waits to learn what impact the grounding will have on diving in the area, in terms both of any salvage operation and of damage done to the reef.

John Kean, a Sharm El Sheikh-based PADI and TDI diving instructor and author of the book SS Thistlegorm, saw events unfold from a dive boat some way off, before moving in for a closer look.

“The ship passed the first reef, Jackson, at 10am and instead of continuing past Gordon Reef, the last of the four reefs in the Tiran Straits, it went between the middle two reefs, Woodhouse and Thomas,” he told Divernet.

“The gap here is less than 80m. The ship, with a beam of 32.3m, struck Woodhouse Reef just 50m from its end but went hard on to the top by a distance of around 25m.”

Kean later learned that, according to early reports, the ship deviated when its third officer, temporarily in charge of the bridge, turned to port to avoid a small craft.

It was thought that the officer either over-steered the vessel or underestimated its ability to turn back on to a safe course.

The Straits of Tiran are popular with scuba divers coming out of Sharm El Sheikh, for the scenic drift diving that can be had in the vicinities of Woodhouse, Jackson, Gordon and Thomas Reefs.

Fortunately no fuel or oil leakages appeared to have occurred, and that pumps were at work to deal with water ingress which was limited to the bow area, due to the ship’s watertight compartments.


Diving for Crabs & Lobsters

New pages have been added to this web site with reference to the byelaws governing the landing of fish and shellfish by divers.

During a recent committee meeting the subject was discussed at length and it was decided that it would be helpful if the regulations were published on the site for the benefit of the membership.

The regulations are enforced and penalties for breaching the regulations can be severe and include large fines and/or confiscation of boats.

The new links are as follows:

South Wales Fisheries Committee Byelaws

South Wales Fisheries Guidance Leaflet

EU Minimum Fish Sizes (PDF)


Prime Minister commits to Marine Bill

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has confirmed that the Government is preparing the long-awaited "Marine Bill" for introduction early in the fourth Session of Parliament - possibly within a matter of weeks.

This follows ongoing campaigning by wildlife organisations MCS, RSPB, WWF and the Wildlife Trusts, including: a full page advertisement calling for the Bill in national newspapers; an "Early Day Motion" put forward in parliament; and support for the Marine Bill and Marine Reserves by BBC presenters Kate Humble and Simon King.

It also coincided 25 years to the day with the Marine Conservation Society's inaugural registration as a UK charity.

The Marine Bill is vital to enable the designation of Marine Conservation Zones to protect nationally important wildlife such as pink sea fans, eel grass beds, seahorse, maerl and basking sharks. At present less than 0.001% of our seas are highly protected from damaging activities.


Maldives adopts blanket shark-fishing ban

A 10-year-old moratorium banning shark fishing in parts of the Maldives has been extended to cover the whole island group.

Since its adoption in 1998, the moratorium covered seven atolls - but now it extends to 12 nautical miles off any Maldives land mass.

The Maldivian Government has taken the step in the face of evidence that shark populations in the area have come under threat from fishing practices, with takes exceeding sharks' abilities to reproduce.

Abdullah Nasir, the Fisheries Ministry's Permanent Secretary, said: "The fisheries law clearly tells us that we can protect any marine species if we feel that it's threatened or endangered for any reason."

The Maldives is a draw for diving tourists, attracted by its reputation for healthy populations of sharks, in particular hammerheads.

Acknowledging that the islands' shark groups are "very important for tourism", Nasir added that his ministry was "working towards" enshrining the moratorium permanently in law, with the aim of banning shark-fishing and the export of shark products within the next year.

Conservationists have welcomed the move - but caution that effects should be monitored. Maldivian reef ecologist Marie Saleem, while welcoming the Government's announcement, said that reef shark populations will require careful assessment to determine the effect of the moratorium and any subsequent statutory ban.

Some observatioins by Rob (Biffo) Bryning of
Maldives Scuba Tours:

We have truly had a great winter season with superb encounters with all the big stuff.

It’s particularly encouraging to see the numbers of grey reef sharks back on the increase. We were worried that they had been all fished out but, for whatever reason, we are now seeing regular large shoals of these wonderful animals.

Crayfish Study
Some marine related news:

The following snippets are from the Wildlife Trust marine news section. Some information about seasearch courses and dives in Wales are at the end.

  • Latest issue of MPA News, including Skomer, MPAs for migratory species and more.
    click here
  • Scottish consultation on wave and tidal energy.
    click here
  • Climate change at the coast – CoastNet conference.
    click here
  • Bass Minimum Landing Size petition. The recreational sea angling lobby has proposed that the Minimum Landing Size (MLS) for the taking of bass should be increased to 45cm which is the size at which each fish will have spawned at least once. The commercial industry is generally against this move. Defra had recognized the importance of increasing the MLS and last year announced an interim increase to 40cm starting 6th April 2007 with a view to a larger increase in 2010. A last minute meeting with the commercial sector has put a hold on any increase. There is a petition at the No. 10 Downing Street website to increase the MLS to 45cm.
    click here
  • Plans for Olympic Marina on Dorset coast.
    click here
  • Fishing off Sussex costs a trawler skipper £10,300. The owner and skipper of the Brixham beam trawler Angus Rose, was fined a £6,500 with a further £3,800 costs, by Brighton magistrates on March 29th after pleading guilty to 17 log book offences and fishing inside the protected six mile limit off Hastings.

    In an interview submitted to the court, Mr. George admitted to Marine Fisheries inspectors that he never filled his log book until the end of a fishing trip. The rules state that he is required to do so by midnight every night.

    Prosecuting for the Marine Fisheries Agency and the Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee, David Buck, said a large vessel like the Angus Rose fishing inside the six mile limit had a damaging impact on the marine environment and in-shore fish stocks.

    Magistrates said it was clear that the Angus Rose had consistently fished within the six mile limit and there was no excuse for it because sophisticated equipment on board showed Mr. George exactly where he was.

    Mr. George claimed the log book offences were “minor clerical errors” and his encroachment inside the six mile limit was because he was short-handed and tired. ”Magistrates said that after previous warnings, a small fine and a conditional discharge in the past it was time to impose a significant financial penalty.

    Paul Johnson, senior MFA fisheries officer based at Shoreham said: “This case shows the Marine Fisheries Agency and the Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee working in partnership to enforce the rules which are designed preserve the inshore marine environment and fish stocks.”
  • Latest issue of emarine. click here
    including PhD on Citizenship and the Marine Environment.
  • Education: marine mammals and noise. Canadian lesson plan on the impacts of noise on harbour porpoises. click here
  • Shark fishing upsets ecosystem and damages shellfisheries. click here
Observer Courses
date location contact
April 14th/15th Marloes, Pembrokeshire West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
28th/29th April Bangor, Gwynedd North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
May 19th/20th Kenfig, S. Wales South Wales Seasearch - Vicki Howe
9th/10th June Tudweiliog, Llyn Peninsula North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
Observer Dives
date location contact
28th-29th April St Brides, Pembrokeshire West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
29th April Menai Strait shore dive North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
12th-13th May Milford Haven BAP species diving West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
19th/20th May Treaddur Bay, Anglesey North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
20th May West Wales - qualifying dives South Wales Seasearch - Vicki Howe
2nd/3rd June Cardigan Bay -
skate & ray egg search
North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
9th-10th June Seasearch Dive In -
All around the UK
National Coordinator - Chris Wood
9th-10th June Seasearch Dive In -
Aberystwyth & Cardigan Bay
West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
9th 10th June Seasearch Dive In - Gower South Wales Seasearch - Vicki Howe
10th June Seasearch Dive In - Lleyn Peninsula North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
22nd-24th June Grassholme liveaboard South Wales Seasearch - Vicki Howe
23rd June South Isle of Wight Hants/IOW Seasearch - Vicky Swales
23rd-24th June Skomer MNR urchin survey West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
7th-8th July Skomer MNR urchin survey West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
8th July Cardigan Bay - skate & ray egg search North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
20th-22nd July Pembrokeshire Offshore liveaboard South Wales Seasearch - Vicki Howe
21st/22nd July Pwhelli North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
21st-22nd July Milford Haven BAP species diving West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
4th-5th August Aberystwyth & Cardigan Bay West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
11th/12th August Cardigan Bay -
skate & ray egg search
North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
18th-19th August West Wales - site to be confirmed West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
18th/19th August Amlwch, Anglesey North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
24th-26th August Lundy liveaboard (from Wales!) South Wales Seasearch - Vicki Howe
7th-9th September Liveaboard South Wales -
sites to be confirmed
South Wales Seasearch - Vicki Howe
8th/9th September Lleyn Peninsula North Wales Seasearch - Paul Turkentine
15th-16th Sept North Pembrokeshire West Wales Seasearch - Kate Lock
Some useful photography web resources:
  1. Alan James Photography

  2. Underwater photography is a free web based magazine: www.uwpmag.com.

  3. www.wetpixel.com is a website dedicated to providing the latest information on digital underwater photography.

  4. Digideep www.digideep.com Provides a permanent market overview of essential equipment.

  5. British society of underwater photographers
    [ BSOUP ] www.bsoup.org

  6. Nikon uk www.nikon.co.uk

  7. Canon uk www.canon.co.uk

  8. Paul williams Professional Photographic laboratory services. www.phoenix-imaging.com
SAA Club 349
Marine Conservation Society
Haven Diving Services
Alan James Photography
Cameras Underwater
British Society of Underwater Photographers
Wildlife Trust Marine Section
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Visit Pembrokeshire
Friends of Pembrokeshire
The Shark Trust
Campaign for the Protection of Rural WAles
The Countryside Council for WAles
Wildlife Wales
The Nature of Wales
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
BBC Nature - Wales & Southwest
British Divers Marine Life Rescue
World Wildlife Fund

Read Phil's Postings
Divernet Magazine
SAA Website
Welsh Association of Sub Aqua Clubs
X-RAY MAG is an international dive magazine. It is complimentary and published in pdf-format and distributed worldwide over the internet every other month.
The National Diving & Activity Centre
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency
The Royal National Lifeboat s Institution
THe Diving Diseases Research Centre
Atlantic Pressure Charts
UK Wind Chart
UK Wind Map
UK Tidal Predictions
Tidal Prediction
Admiralty Charts
Imray Charts
West Wales Sailing
Copyright 2002 - .... Llantrisant Sub-Aqua Club. All rights reserved.