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Muscat Divers and the Environment

Diving in Oman is almost unique in that world class low risk tropical diving is available right here on our doorstep, but the number of active divers is relatively low. It´s rare that we have to share a dive site with other divers. So we have a special responsibility to ensure that we contribute to ensuring that future divers can enjoy diving around Muscat as much as we do.

Muscat Divers Environment Charter

Muscat Divers will dive responsibly and safely, at all times conscious of the need to protect the marine environment of Oman. We do not engage in any form of underwater fishing nor collect marine life nor artifacts Our training ensures that all divers are aware of this statement and understand the importance of not touching coral or other underwater life.

We subscribe to the BSAC Environment Policy (link www.bsac.org/page/126/bsac-environmental-policy.htm
We will contribute actively to the efforts of the government of Oman to protect the underwater environment.
We conform with all Omani laws and regulations governing the protection of the environment and contribute actively to supporting environmentally friendly activities.

NET CLEARING AT DAMANIYAT ISLANDS, DECEMBER 2011

In 2011 we were contacted by the Environment Society of Oman, who with sponsorship from Oman Sail were hoping to organise a Reef Cleaning weekend at the Damaniyat Islands.

Over time, old fishing traps and nets have become entangled on the lovely corals that surround the islands. These corals make the Damaniyat Islands some of the best diving in Oman and indeed the whole of this part of the world. The nets not only are incredibly unsightly but are harmful to the corals and marine life that abounds and as divers who regularly enjoy these waters, it is immensely rewarding to feel that we can put something back by assisting this type of project.

Over the weekend of 8th to 10th December 2011 the ESO had coordinated local divers, including the commercial dive operators as well as the two local BSAC clubs to convene on the Islands. We were each assigned our area to clear and local fisherman had been asked to assist where possible in removing the nets once they were lifted.

A group of eight members from Muscat Divers BSAC621 set out bright and early, it being a one and half hour boat transfer to the site. Unfortunately the weather was not the usual sunny, calm, 30 degrees plus we have come to expect diving here in Oman; in fact it was nearer 20 degrees, a big swell, 15 knots of wind and cloudy but not being faint hearted we pressed on! We arrived at the diving area know as the “Aquarium” (for very good reason as the marine life on the reef is abundant). Locating the nets proved to be a bit of a challenge but we were successful in lifting 3 old, rusting traps on the initial dive and we transported these to the beach where members of ESO assisted in their disposal (there being no fishermen in sight-maybe not surprisingly!) Whilst looking for the nets we were lucky enough to come across a leopard shark with remoras in attendance Having being relieved of our rather odorous cargo (which was becoming smellier by the minute!) we went back to the Aquarium for a second dive to try again to locate the large net that was supposed to be there. This time we had success and we were able to lift a huge net which had been down for so long that the corals had grown over it in places.  We needed to be very careful to cut around those areas and not cause any further damage, plastic bags are tied to the net at about 5m intervals, a small amount of air is put in the bag and the net then rises to the surface where the boat crew haul it aboard, whilst the divers are very watchful below for falling debris and sea urchins!

Net clearing is a valuable way for Muscat Divers to be able to contribute towards the upkeep of Oman’s environment, so a big thank you to those divers who gave up their time and were able to help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muscat Divers Clearing old nets

Bander Koran Cleanup 2010

On finding that one of our favourite dive sites had been heavily swamped by several detached nets, Muscat Divers decided to stage a clearing dive.

The nets were draped over the coral in one of the prettiest dive sites we visit. Fortunately the depth was from 2 ­ 10m so from a technical point of view it was fairly low risk. However, any dive of this nature carries with it some risk so it was carefully planned by our most experienced dive manager, Neil Bedwin, who has over 2000 logged dives and 2 decades experience. The dive was open to divers of all ages and grades, so Neil took care to ensure that newer divers were particularly well briefed and even those who had done clearance before were reminded of safety procedures. It was bad enough seeing so many dead and dying fish without adding a few members to their number. And of course we needed to ensure that we didn't do a whole lot more damage to the reef by our efforts. Not much was needed in the way of equipment ­ a stout pair of kitchen scissors and a supply of plastic bags for buoyancy did the trick, with some time out for posing for the in house photographer and video team.

The snippers snipped and the buouyers buoyed, while the top cover in boats pulled in the wreckage ­ which rapidly smelled up the boats something terrible!

Rubbish to the land fill

It was amazing just how much apparently dead stuff came back to life once we were able to to snip away the strangling cords, including some crabs and lobsters who woke up cross and snappy.

Muscat Divers rescuing a crab

Of course there´s not much point cleaning up a reef unless you dispose of the mess decently. It was all hauled back to the marina and taken to land fill.

The following week we went back to BK Island and it was marvelous to see our favourite BK site back to close to its best.

Next Job - Ras Al Dhowd

We now have permission from the Government to clean up nets at this lovely site near Quriyat, watch this space for more news!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Marine Project

The Great Marine Project is a collection of unique marine sites in the world that require our marine studies and monitoring in order to effect positive change in the way the marine wilderness is managed in the future. The project is run by WOX, an international environmental and social projects management company based in Malaysia, Mauritius, India and the UK. The aim of WOX is to create meaningful experiences through endangered species conservation and operating in a responsible and ethical manner, creating positive benefits to the destinations it works in.

The Great Marine Project (GMP) has two main goals number one is to increase the turtle populations of the Perhentian Islands and the second is to preserve corals using a suite of marine volunteer programmes which will help towards establishing relevant conservation. The work and research carried out by during our programs is supported by an experienced team of project coordinators, dive instructors and conservationists, focusing on the endangered treasures of marine habitats; turtles, coral reefs and the myriad of animal and plant life in this unique and diverse underwater world.

Our projects in Malaysia are based around successful turtle nesting beaches and important coral reefs that act as feeding grounds for marine wildlife and essential ecosystems. As a marine volunteer, you will work with the Government, local communities and dive centres to preserve the marine environment and learn more about the conservation of these environments.

Turtle populations in Malaysia have dropped alarming in the last 50 years with the populations of Leatherback turtles falling by 99% and it is feared they are on the brink of extinction in Malaysian waters. You will help run beach patrols, maintain turtle nests and marine educational programmes which help to protect the turtle populations of the Perhentian Islands. Marine volunteers also conduct coral reef surveys and if a group from your club come along we can get you involved in coral transplanting and building new artificial reefs using dead coral substrate. All divers enjoy the coral transplanting and when we have built the artificial reefs before the groups have often returned to see how the fish have settled in. We will send all divers building who participate in building an artificial reef monthly data to keep you up to date on your project.

The Great Marine Project would like to invite you, and a group of your friends to the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia to join in with turtle and coral conservation.

By day you will dive and if you come as a group you will get the chance to build and name your very own artificial reef then transplant stressed coral onto it. By night protect highly endangered mother green turtles while they nest on our beach. What better way to spend your time than to dive with a purpose by day and protect nesting mother turtles by night.

Put meaning to your dives - dive with the great marine project.

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