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TravelPosted by Jean Dar Wed, November 29, 2017 20:55:17 First stop - São Paulo and Santos in Brazil
My next travel project "7 weeks in Latin America" is less than two months away and as its name indicates, its a 7 week long arrangement that still is only half complete, regarding reservations for flights and hotels. In total some fifteen separate flights will be included and a multitute of locations in five countries, starting in São Paulo and Santos in Brazil.
This Brazilian leg of the trip was originally not included in my blue print for the trip, and now making up the first ½ week of the itinerary. It was added as a short stopover for some fun in the sun before heading towards Patagonia and the Gorra Blanca ascent. The video below is from earlier this year showing drone footage of the city of Santos, São Paulo.
Santos is probably not the first Brazilian city that comes to mind as a tourist, being close to the megacity of São Paulo, the largest city in the southern hemisphere. But it is a historical city as it was founded by the Portuguese nobleman Brás Cubas in 1546. Some of the attractions in Santos are the Coffee Museum, where the coffee prices were once negotiated, the city's beachfront garden that is the largest in the world, and of course the museum of the great Brazilian footballer Pelé.
Santos has the biggest seaport in Latin America which handle a large portion of the world's coffee exports, as well as a number of other Brazilian exports including steel, oil, cars, oranges, bananas and cotton. I will however not see much of this, as I have made hotel reservations quite close to the main beaches on the south side of Santos, and will be soaking in the sun preparing for the coldness of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Campo de Hielo Sur in Spanish.
- More info will be posted of my "7 weeks in Latin America" project.
Ad Astra - Jean Dar is the full name of my new YouTube channel, where everyone will be able to see them videos from my travel projects. The first video posted on Ad Astra - Jean D is the 10:25 minutes long one found below, covering my Philippines & Micronesia travel project 11 December 2016 - 20 January 2017.
Further videos will show awesome wreck diving footage from Chuuk Lagoon (Truk Lagoon), diving in Palau and Yap, and of course the South African Dive Bonanza project in June - July this year. And a lot more. If you want to be the first to watch my new videos, subscribe to the channel: Ad Astra - Jean Dar
My forthcoming grand "Living La Vida Loca Project" is still being organised with only a few flights and accomodations completed at the moment. The first few days will be spent in Sao Paulo and Santos in Brazil, followed by the Patagonian leg consisting of two and a half weeks that will include a climbing comeback for me on the less technichal peak of Gorra Blanca in Chile.
It will be a five day expedition on the Patagonian icefield, starting in Argentina and with the climb itself in Chile. This will show whether my shoulder (and the rest of me) could be up for some heavier mountaineering objectives in the future.
- More updates on my forthcoming "Living La Vida Loca Project" will follow!
Finally I got some piece of mind and time to write the last post about my South African Dive Bonanza in June-July this year. Looking back at it now, some four months later, I can only say it was a packed three week holiday that definitely took my diving to the next level.
With the last couple of dives in False Bay I was mentally prepared for the colder temperatures and also rougher conditions on the sea. All dives proceeded without any problems at all, at least for me. There was this guy from the States that had some problems on almost all his dives, like losing his weightbelt decending while adjusting it etc. Fortunatly for me, I didn't have to buddy-up with him. My photo below, from 11 July 2017, pictures corals at 28 meters depth at a location called the Sherwood Forest.
Diving at the Sherwood Forest certainly provided me with some memorable encounters, like the Longnosed Skate below that I managed to get on my camera on 11 July 2017. But like the Sardine Run, the action in False Bay could prove to be as fast-moving there, where also Cape Fur Seals are often seen checking-out divers. In my case they proved to be too fast really, and I didn't get any footage of them, even if two of them came really close on my third and final dive on the SAS Pietermaritzburg.False Bay is probably best known for the Great White Sharks hunting Cape Fur Seals, and on occasion even breaching the surface as they come from below with great speed. Cage dives are a daily occurence here, weather permitting, and tourists flock to see those few Great White Sharks still out there. Basically all large spieces of sharks could face extinction within 20 years, mostly due to humans. My photo below is from a safety stop at the Sherwood Forest on 11 July 2017, and I had my camera ready for them jellyfishes!
Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula is a charming town with plenty of buildings on St Georges Street from the Victorian era. Most restaurants serve excellent South African wines and my favourite ones are located at the Waterfront overlooking False Bay. The cuisine is not surprisingly influenced by the British, with fish and chips themes shining through as well as hamburgers, sallads etc. My photo below, from 12 July 2017, is from the pier by the Waterfront showing the statue of the South African Navy's Standby Diver.
Pisces Divers is the natural choice of dive operator in Simon's Town and I did sign up for both the Sardine Run and all the False Bay dives with them. In the future I may return and do another Sardine Run with them, since I never got the underwater footage of them Cape Gannets diving into the bait ball. There are plenty more first class dive sites along the long coasts of South Africa that I find highly intyeresting. The group photo below is after my final dive in False Bay on 13 July 2017.I had a really good time diving in South Africa with Pisces Divers and their arrangements and recommend their services. About accomodation, I stayed for the duration of my entire stay in Simon's Town at Simon's Town Boutique Backpackers. Its clean, neat, affordable and the location is very good, only 5 minutes walk to the Waterfront and 15 minutes walk to Pisces Divers the other direction, just next to the train station of Simon's Town.
My next grand travel project is already on the way with more or less all the locations and dates set. Its going to be a seven and a half week long trip, including five countries, climbing, freediving, scuba diving, Salsa Caleño and Marengue dancing and a lot more..
I had my last dive here in False Bay, South Africa, yesterday 13 July 2017, today was a rest day as I will be flying to London (UK) tomorrow, and from there to Stockholm, Sweden.
My first dive in False Bay was at a dive site called the Photographers Deep, where I got down to 31 meters. Visibility was really poor at only 2-3 meters, which made it important to stay close to my dive buddy. Temperatures were at lowest down to 11°C, making it a cold dive in my 7/5mm wetsuit added with another 5mm on top. My photo below, from 8 July 2017, is from that first dive at Photographers Deep picturing a Puffaddear Shyshark at 31 meters. Its a small shark that often lives near the bottom in sandy or rocky habitats.
Through history thousands of ships have sunk along the South African coast and a lot of them around the treacherous waters of the Cape Peninsula. However, some more recent wrecks have been scuttled in False Bay and have become home to many sorts or marine life. The five wrecks that are found in Smitswinkel bay offer a good site for wreck diving. My photo below, from 9 July 2017, shows me and my dive buddy Jessica at 32 meters, exploring the wreck of the 50m long trawler MFV Orotava. This ship was scuttled in False Bay in August 1983.
The SAS Pietermaritzburg was first commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Pelorus in 1943, and took part in the D-day invasion of Normandy in World War II as the lead ship sweeping mines to make way for the invasion fleet. She was sold in 1947 to the South African Navy and renamed HMSAS Pietermaritzburg. My photo below, from 9 July 17, pictures me diving inside the SAS Pietermaritzburg in False Bay. This was the second wreck dive of the day, the first one being on the MFV Orotava. Water temperature was down to 11°C and visibility about 12 meters.
The story of the SAS Pietermaritzburg stretches all the way from 1943, when she was launched, to 1994 when she was scuttled to make an artificial reef at Miller's Point near Simon's Town. The wreck settled upright on the sand at a maximum depth of 22 metres, but has begun to collapse and the interior is much less accessible than it used to be. All in all, I had three dives on the historical SAS Pietermaritzburg. Since she was scuttled on 12 November 1994 to form an artificial reef, marine life has taken posession of this wreck as my photo below from 11 July 2017 shows.
Simon's Town on the western shores of False Bay, got its name from the Dutch governor of the Cape Colony Simon van der Stel. The town has been a naval base and harbour for more than two hundred years and was a strategical base for the British Royal Navy during World War II, as both German and Japanese ships and U-boats patroled these waters. The South African Navy seconded to the British Royal Navy 1939-1945. My photo below, from 10 July 2017, is from the South African Navy Museum in Simon's Town, picturing World War II items.
I will post one more update about diving in False Bay in the coming days, where more of my footage will be displayed and also information about the dives, diving conditions, marine life and more. All of my dives out of Simon's Town was arranged with Pisces Divers here in Simon's Town, a really solid dive company.
In total I had eight dives in False Bay and the weather is a factor to consider here as is the water temperatures. Diving in False Bay is by all means a colder proposition than the Sardine Run along the Eastern Cape!
Second and last update on my South African Sardine Run
Its been a week and half since I posted an update here at Ad Astra, and that was not the general idea. However, delayed flights from East London to Cape Town made a very late arrival in Simon's Town. And from there I never had enough time to post, until now that is.
My photos below illustrates pretty well what the Sardine Run is about. A
fast boat out at sea far from the coast, and once Cape Gannets are spotted
diving into the water, the boat sets off in that direction. Meanwhile you'd
better prepare to get in the water fast! Get your fins on, spit in your mask
and rinse it, and wait for instructions. If lots of Gannets still are dive-bombing an area, you will most probably also see plenty of Common Dolphins. My photo below from 26 June 2017, shows that it doesn't really matter if you get in the water or not to see the action, you get as wet either way!
The Bronze Whaler Sharks can be
spotted once you put your head below the waves, and one might see other spieces
of sharks too. When the instruction comes to get in the water, you will be told
not to jump and splash into it, since that will scare off many of the animals
you want to see. My photo below from 27 June 2017, pictures a few of us in the water with the boat some 100m away. This is open sea where the Gannets and Dolphins only two minutes previously where praying on fish. Note the black shadow in the water just left of me and the dorsal fin cutting the surface to the right. With poor visibility you might be just next to a large predator and not being aware of it.
Slip quitely in the water from the boat and swim into the
action if it hasn't moved on and away from the boat and yourself. The boat may
at times be as far as 100m from you and you will see quite a few dorsal fins
break the surface around, most of them will be Dolphin fins though. In most
cases, if not all, you will not put on your scuba gear as the action is so
incredibly fast moving. My photo below from 30 June, captures one of those stunning moments when I caught three Humpback Whales diving past me after trying to get some footage of them for five hours. The photo shows the first Whale that turns belly-up and starts diving after seeing me.
Also, if getting in the water as the boat backs off, leaving you
to face a huge pod of Common Dolphins or Humpback Whales in the water, the noise
using scuba gear will probably alert the Dolphins or Whales approaching you,
and they might turn direction due to this. My photo below shows me on the beaches on Cintsa on 1 July 2017, the last day of my Sardine Run. From this beach the boat launched every morning at sunrise and the first stretch out of the surf was always a bumpy and wet ride, feet had to be strapped to the floor and hands holding on to ropes in order to stay in the boat.
One might have many tries when wanting to get good footage during the
Sardine Run, and big underwater cameras are good for slow moving or stationary
motifs, but this is nothing of the kind. I have only two GoPro cameras for my
dives and its amazing what footage you get from them small cameras. All
underwater footage I've taken has been with GoPros 3+ and 4, of which I fancy
the 3+ most. My photo below from 2 July 2017 is from Nahoon Beach in East London. This is where I spent one night at the Premier Hotel East London for a night, relaxing, using the gym and had a few delicious meals and South African wines.
I am now in Simon's Town since a week back and have made a couple of dives in False Bay. The entire Cape Peninsula is littered with ship wrecks along the entire coastline. I have and will only dive in False Bay, doing deep dives and wreck dives that I will tell about in my next update here on Ad Astra. In total I will have eight dives out of Simon's Town before Friday.
here in Cintsa, Eastern Cape Province, in the afternoon of Sunday 25 June,
having had three flights taking me from Stockholm, Sweden, to East London,
South Africa, where private transport to Cintsa awaited me. All of my
participation in this year’s Sardine Run will be out of Cintsa, as this is
where Simon’s Town-based Pisces Divers arranges its dives and accommodation for
the event. I have arranged so Pisces Divers brought along a new Scubapro 7/5mm
wetsuit for me, that I will buy after the Sardine Run and also use for the
deep-diving and wreck-diving out of Simon’s Town the two weeks following the
Sardine Run. My photo below shows the beaches of Cintsa on 25 June 2017.
26 June breakfast was served at 6:30 a.m. and the boat set off from the sandy
beaches soon after 7:20, us six clients being dressed up in our diving gear
ready to slip into the waters at any minute out on the seas. It was chilly and
the boat had a rough start fighting some huge waves before reaching somewhat
calmer waters further out. It seemed like only me and another guy were keen on
getting a piece of the Sardine Run action at first. We slipped into the water
and swam some 100m from the boat towards a couple of Humpback Whales, only to
see them disappear into the depths as we approached them, tough luck! I have
got some stunning photos of Common Dolphins, see my photo below from 26 June
we spotted formations of Cape Gannets at a distance and headed that way. This
time four of us got in the deep and murky waters. The visibility was here down
to three meters, and I saw a couple of Dolphins around us and two Bronze Whaler
Sharks circling beneath us. All of a sudden a Bronze Whaler Shark appeared out
of nowhere and with great speed, colliding with me as I was recording with my
GoPro. My photo below, from 26 June 2017, shows the moment of collision between
me and the Bronze Whaler Shark. One can see the shark’s left pectoral fin hits
my camera, and out of picture, its nose ended up hitting me. Both man and shark
were unharmed in this incident.
following day, Tuesday 27 June 2017, we started early again and headed out from
land, scouting for some seabird activity as that could indicate Sardines below
the surface and everything that goes with it: Dolphins, Sharks, dive-bombing
Cape Gannets etc. We tried our luck once again on Whales, and I did get some footage of
one diving some 5-6 meters under me in the murky waters. The footage is
not of the highest quality due to poor visibility. Again we saw large pods of
Dolphins, Bronze Whaler Sharks and plenty of Cape Gannets doing aerial
acrobatics dive-bombing into the blue for fish. My photo below pictures a
Bronze Whaler Shark circling below me in waters with poor visibility on 27 June 2017.
strong winds, rain and thunder we had to postpone all sea activities on
Wednesday 28 June 2017, and I mainly spent the day reviewing my footage but
also resting a bit. The weather improved in the afternoon. And today, 29 June
2017, we spent almost a full day out on the big blue. Not everyone did get into
the water today, but we who did tried several times to get good footage of
Humpback Whales. The boat will drop you off and you swim towards the direction
given by the guys on the boat and hoping you get some visual contact with the
Whales. That did not happen today. My photo below is from 27 June 2017,
picturing Common Dolphins and one of us divers snorkeling on the surface. I
find this photo being the best one I’ve taken on this trip so far!
It is common to snorkel a lot on the Sardine Run
since the action is so unbelievably fast! Once you have put on your fins and
mask on the boat and are ready to get in the water, the Dolphins and Gannets
can have moved on following the bait fish that attracts them. This could
sometimes mean 100m or more in a minute or two, giving you a hard time if getting
in the water, getting on the boat again, and setting off to the new location of
the Dolphins and Gannets. Also the visibility may vary considerably due to
this, since the bait fish along with the predators following them, dictates the
location and speed of the action. So far no scuba gear has been used by us due
to the speed and changing location of the action, but also due to the fact we
have had no indications of a huge bait ball of Sardines, that would make things
a bit more stationary or at least slow moving for a while.
- My next update will be from Simon's Town on 3 July, after the Sardine Run.
Full itinerary for my South African Dive Bonanza project
Its now less than two weeks to departure and all flights, accommodations and dives have been arranged for my South African Dive Bonanza project. This will in fact be my first project entirely focusing on diving. The dates for diving out off Simon's Town could be altered due to weather and diving conditions.
24 June: Stockholm
– London (UK)- Johannesburg
25 June: Johannesburg
– East London (SA)
26 June - 1
July: The Sardine
Run along the Eastern Cape Coast
2 July: East
3 July: East London – Cape Town - Simon's
4 July: Leisure
5 July: Rescue Diver pool session
6 July: Rescue Diver sea dives
7 July: Leisure
8 July: Deep dives 1 and 2
9 July: Deep dives 3 and 4
10 - 11 July: Leisure
12 July: Wreck dives 1 and 2
13 July: Wreck dives 3 and 4
14 July: Leisure
15 July: Simon's
Town – Cape Town - Johannesburg - London (UK)
16 July: London
The video above is from East London, some 200km east of Port Elizabeth. Its a small city that I will be spending one night in after the Sardine Run, and before going to Simon's Town and two more weeks of diving there.
- A return to wilderness, mountains and glaciers might follow next year in Patagonia.
My South African Dive Bonanza project will start in two and half weeks from today, and the first leg of this project will be diving the spectacular Sardine Run of South Africa. Reservations are made for five full days of diving in the big blue off the coast of Eastern Cape Province in South Africa.
I will also be spending a night in East London after the Sardine Run, before transferring to Cape Town and from there to Simon's Town. The Western Cape Province and the Cape Peninsula offers a variety of diving opportunities as wreck diving (more than 800 ship wrecks!), deep diving, freediving, corals, sealife and a lot more.
I have made arrangements for some eight dives out of Simon's Town during the two weeks following the Sardine Run, including rescue diver practice, deep dives and wreck dives. A few spare days are available if the weather and sea turns rough.
With me having made the last domestic flight reservations in South Africa earlier this week, all is now set for another spectacular travel project! Considering what I will be able to experience throughout this three week long project, it will most certainly be to a good price.
- My next post will include my full itinerary for this South African Dive Bonanza Project!
In exactly one month I will have completed my first day of diving the Sardine Run along the Eastern Cape Coast of South Africa. Since weather can make or break a full day of diving, I will have five days in total to my disposal for this spectacular event. Whales, dolphins, sharks and a lot more should by all means be spotted in the waters anyway freediving and scuba diving!
I will then transfer from East London to Cape Town and continue to Simon's Town, where I will have some rescue diver training for my upcoming deep dives and wreck dives. Along the Western Cape coast great white sharks are spotted and some fatal incidents occur with some regularity.
As with diving in most cases, weather and sea will dictate when, where and what kind of diving will be performed during my entire three week South African Dive Bonanza project. I expect the waters around the Western Cape to be murky, as in this video from the area, which could end up with close encounters of any sort...
A full itinerary will be posted here at Ad Astra as soon all the reservations are completed. At the moment only reservations for three domestic flights remains, as accommodation has been taken care of.
With five to six days per week of a variety of exercises, including weight training, water training and also cardiovascular excerises, my physical conditioning is improving all the time and my operated shoulder is healed and strong again.
A 3°C temperature rise may be the tipping point where
global warming could run out of control, leaving us powerless to intervene as
planetary temperatures soar. America's most eminent climate scientist, James Hansen
says warming has brought us to the "precipice of a great tipping
point". If we go over the edge, it will be a transition to a different
planet, an environment far outside the range that has been experienced by
humanity. There will be no return within the lifetime of any generation that
can be imagined, and the tip will exterminate a large fraction of species on
In the Pliocene, three million years, temperatures
were 3°C higher than our pre-industrial levels, so it gives us an insight into
the 3°C world. The northern hemisphere was free of glaciers and icesheets,
beech trees grew in the Transantarctic mountains, sea levels were 25 metres
higher, and atmospherc carbon dioxide levels were 360-400 ppm, very similar to
today. There are also strong indications that during the Pliocene, permanent El
Nino conditions prevailed. Hansen says that rapid warming today is already
heating up the western Pacific Ocean, a basis for a coming period of
"super El Ninos".
Between two and three degrees temperature rise the
Amazon rainforest, whose plants produce 10% of the world's
photosynthesis and have no evolved resistance to fire, may turn to savannah, as
drought and mega fires first destroy the rainforest, turning trees back into
carbon dioxide as they burn or rot and decompose. The carbon released by the
forests destruction will be joined by still more from the world's soils,
together boosting global temperatures by a further 1.5ºC. It is suggested than
in human terms the effect on the planet will be like cutting off oxygen during
an asthma attack.
A March 2007 conference at Oxford talked about "corridors of probability" with models predicting the risk of the Amazon passing a tipping point at between 10 to 40% over the next few decades. The UK's Hadley Centre climate change model, best known for warning of catastrophic losses of Amazon forest, predicts that, under current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the chances of such a drought would rise from 5% now (one every 20 years) to 50% by 2030, and to 90% by 2100.
The collapse of the Amazon is
part of the reversal of the carbon cycle projected to happen around 3°C, a view
confirmed by a range of researchers using carbon coupled climate models. Vast
amounts of dead vegetation stored in the soil (more than double the entire
carbon content of the atmosphere) will be broken down by bacteria as soil
warms. The generally accepted estimate is that the soil carbon reservoir
contains some 1600 gigatonnes, more than double the entire carbon content of the
atmosphere. The conversion will begin of the terestrial carbon sink to a carbon
source due to temperature-enhanced soil and plant respiration overcoming
CO2-enhanced photosynthesis, resulting in widespread desertification and
And it's already happening. A recent study found that the calculated increase
in carbon lost by UK soil each year since 1978 is more than the entire
reduction in emissions the UK has achieved between 1990 and 2002 as part of its
commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. New research published in "Science"
in May 2007 suggests that the earth's ability to soak up the gases causing
global warming is beginning to fail because of rising temperatures, in a
long-feared sign of "positive feedback".
Three degrees would likely see increasing areas of the planet being rendered
essentially uninhabitable by drought and heat. Rainfall in Mexico and central
America is projected to fall 50%. Southern Africa would be exposed
to perennial drought, a huge expanse centred on Botswana could see a
remobilisation of old sand dunes, much as is projected to happen earlier in the
US west. The Rockies would be snowless and the Colorado river will fail half
the time. Drought intensity in Australia could triple, according to the CSIRO,
which also predicts days in New South Wales above 35°C will increase 2 to 7
"Failure for me would be to die and not come home" - Ueli Steck
I read with sadness today that my favourite mountaineer has died. Ueli Steck, also called the Swiss Machine, has been in the Everest region in Nepal preparing for his unbelievably hard and technical climbing project, that combines a traverse on Everest and Lhotse in the same push. Ueli Steck fell to his death this morning while training on the Nuptse mountain, near Camp 1 off the Western Cwm.
I have been following him for years and been so inspired by his attitude, ideas, projects and abilities as a climber, along with lots of climbers across the globe. Ueli Steck was one of the most renowned mountaineers of his generation, and best known for his speed climbing, including setting several speed records for ascending various mountains.
In the video below Ueli tells us about his grand project, less than three weeks ago.
On Ueli Steck's website, this informaton is to be found:
"April 30, 2017
Information to the media
Ueli Steck deadly injured
Ueli Steck was killed while trying to climb Mount Everest and the Lhotse. His family has learned of his death today. The exact circumstances are currently unknown. The family is infinitely sad and asks the media builders to refrain from speculation about the circumstances of his death due to respect for Ueli.
As soon as there are reliable findings on the causes of Uelis Steck's death, the media will be informed. The family asks the media for understanding that they will not provide any further information at the time."
Today its exactly two months left to my 2017 South African Dive Bonanza project sets sail. I will take part in the Sardine Run of South Africa during the last week in June, and I so look forward to it! Only some fifteen years ago, this spectacular underwater event was unheard of, and still today all the factors contributing to the Sardine Run are unknown.
The Sardine Run takes place along the East Coast of South Africa, in the warmer Indian Ocean. However, the cooler waters of the Atlantic Ocean plays a huge part in the origins of the annual Sardine Run.
Surely I have to keep an eye on the sharks that most certainly will turn up in numbers, but the most unsuspected injuries could be delivered by the gigantic whales that are feeding on the sardines, or by colliding with dophins or ganetts plunging into the water as living missiles.
- The full itinerary will be posted here when all arrangements are made!
Holidays are granted for three weeks in June - July by my employers at S:t Görans Hospital here in Stockholm, Sweden, and international flight reservations are made! I have also paid for three weeks of spectacular diving including the Sardine Run. My fast moving and affordable South African Dive Bonanza project will set sail in less than three months from today.
As the first week will have passed on, and under, the waves of Eastern Cape Province of South Africa trying to get as close as possible to the Sardine Run action, some Rescue Diver practice, Deep Diving and Wreck Diving will be launched out of Simon' Town, Western Cape Province. A wetsuit will need to be purchased for the South African winter dives, and domestic flights and accomodation are still to be arranged.
The video below should feed you fascination for the South African Sardine Run.
"From late May to late July each year, the sardines arrive along the South African East Coast. Schools of sharks, such as the bronze whaler, dusky and blacktip shark, follow the shimmering path of prey, feasting on the fish. Marine mammals and game fish follow in hot pursuit. Cape fur seals, humpback and minke whales, and thousands of dolphins are joined by shoals of shad, garrick and geelbek as they dive, snap and feed on what appears to be an unlimited supply of sardines. Cape gannets, cormorants, terns and gulls all dive-bomb the sardines in an aerial assaul. And with me diving in the midst of this, I will take part in one of nature's greatest events! This project is scheduled for June - July 2017."
The second leg of this project will be the rescue diver practice, deep diving and wreck diving out of Simon's Town along the western shores of False Bay, also famous for its great white sharks. The Western Cape region is also well-known for all of its numerous shipwrecks. This region holds the smallest complete floral kingdom in the world and this diversity is mirrored underwater with the unique positioning of the peninsula at the junction of two major ocean currents. False Bay has been recognised as a biodiversity hotspot due to the numbers of endemic animals living in these waters.
- South Africa's Sardine Run, deep diving & wreck diving awaits me!
We are eradicating the apex predators of the oceans
Shark finning is the practice of slicing off the shark’s fins while the shark is still alive and throwing the rest of its body back into the ocean where it can take days to die what must be an agonising death. Some sharks starve to death, others are slowly eaten by other fish, and some drown, because sharks need to keep moving to force water through their gills for oxygen. Shark fins are used as the principal ingredient of shark fin soup, an Asian dish. Demand for shark fin soup has rocketed in recent years due to the increased prosperity of China and other countries in the Far East. Shark fin soup, which can easily cost $100 a bowl, is often served at wedding celebrations so that the hosts can impress their guests with their affluence.
Because there is such a high demand for shark fins, traders can make a lot of money from shark fin, but it is the restaurant owners who really make a killing in this foul trade. Fishermen are only interested in the fins because shark meat is of low economical value and takes up too much space in the hold. It also contains urea, which turns to ammonia once the shark has died and contaminates other fish. Shark fin itself is tasteless, it just provides a gelatinous bulk for the soup which is flavoured with chicken or other stock. Many people, especially the consumers, are unaware of the sufferring that finning causes.
To put it bluntly, shark populations have been decimated. Globally. At least 8,000 tonnes of shark fins are shipped to restaurants around the world. Fishermen report that sharks are getting smaller because they are not being given time to mature. Shark populations take a long time to recover as they can take over seven years to reach maturity and they only raise one or two pups a year. Twenty species of sharks are listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). In a few years many species of shark could become extinct if action is not taken immediately. Populations of many shark species have fallen by over 90%. Since 1972 the number of blacktip sharks has fallen by 93%, tiger sharks by 97% and bull sharks, dusky sharks and smooth hammerheads by 99%.
The consequences of the decline in shark populations on ocean life are immense. The large shark species are apex predators, they are ecological stablisers. For example along the US East Coast where large sharks such as black tip and tiger sharks have been virtually elimated, there have been declines in shellfish numbers and a reduction in water quality since shellfish filter sea water. Populations of small sharks, rays and skates have increased rapidly, consuming shellfish at an unsustainable rate. If you remove apex predators from an ecosystem the result is the same as removing the foundations from a building – total collapse.
I have a passion for travelling, having visited multiple countries on six continents for longer or shorter periods throughout the years. My interests include a wide array of areas, spanning from creativity to scientific matters and culinary delights to physiology and beyond.
I speak fluently English and Swedish, and at best I do fairly well in Spanish, and less well in French.