Index   1917 TO 1959    1960 TO 1969   1970 TO 1979   1980 TO 1989 A   1990 TO 1999   2000 TO 2009   2010 TO 2019 Part One   2010 TO 2019 Part Two 

1990 to 1999


















We have now entered the age of technology. Scuba diving throughout Australia has improved to such an extent over the last 40 years that the pioneering days have almost been forgotten. Improvements in equipment have developed to a degree that the first scuba divers could never have imagined.

Scuba Diving from the days of 1950 when George Davies and his brother Trevor welded their homemade regulator to backyard built cylinders, and Frenchman Michel Calluaud and John Lawson and others made the first amateur regulators in Australia, to the very latest in re-breathing equipment and mixed gas units.

From shorts, singlets, woollen jumpers and old overalls, to modern day dry suits, from individual hand signals to the latest in underwater communications and computerised information. Technology is the future. As knowledge progresses so will teaching methods change, divers will become more aware of their undersea environment and for generations to come for scuba divers, I see a controlled, but optimistic future for the sport of underwater diving.

On Sunday, October 6, 1991, two Sydney scuba divers died whilst diving the wreck of the tug Himma. The Himma lies in 52 metres of water off Long Reef and is one of ten wrecks forming an artificial reef commonly called “Ship Reef.” These wrecks are spread over a square kilometre of seabed.

The New South Wales Coroner, Mr. Derrick Hand, has called for the quick implementation of the Dive Australia Code of Practice, following an inquest into the death of one of the country's most experienced divers. Paul Cavanagh drowned on the scuttled bucket dredge, Cooloolie in the Tasman Sea on March 20, 1994.

The death of Pat Bowring, an experienced technical diver, is the second fatality in the last three years involving deep diving on the Koputai, a paddle steamer wreck that lies 7 kilometres east of Bondi in approximately 70 metres of water.

Being isolated from the rest of the world, Australian divers in the pioneering days were self-sufficient. From the early days of woollen jumpers, plywood flippers, and home made masks, then later twin hose regulators and other equipment, divers in this country have always had a pioneering spirit. Is it any wonder that a small number of new pioneer divers are making “home-made” re-breathers.




SOUTH AUSTRALIAN DIVERS TO SALVAGE GUAM TREASURE GALLEON: Adelaide. A South Australian syndicate has won the exclusive rights to excavate a silver laden Manila galleon sunk off Guam in 1690. The group headed by John Bent and Paul Lunn of the Adelaide Skindiving Centre, estimates that there is $500 million in precious metals and gems at the wreck site of the Nuestra Senora Del Pilar De Zaragoza. The 1200-ton galleon, mounting 50 cannons, was carrying the King's annual allowance to underwrite a year's trading in Manila, including 1.5 million silver pieces of eight as well as an unknown number of gold coins and ingots. Ending a 2 month, 7500 nautical mile crossing from Acapulco, the galleon was attempting to skirt Cocos Island. A current was running inshore and night was failing when the Del Pilar struck a reef on June 21, 1690. Attempts to lighten the galleon and tow her off the reef, failed. When the wind began picking up, boats transferred the Del Pilar's passengers and much of its cargo to its sister ship, the Santo Nino, which continued to Manila. All next day Del Pilar was blown across the boulder strewn reef and sucked down the steeply sloping face, breaking up and spilling its remaining cargo along the way.

AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF WOMEN DIVERS: Sydney. Take a look at the other divers on your next trip or outing and you can see evidence of a significant change in the sport, an increase in the numbers of women. Women certified divers are increasing and the numbers show no sign of diminishing. According to a recent PADI article women now comprise 15 per cent of the entry-level participants. PADI records show 25 per cent of PADI certificates issued in the last two years were to women. A quick phone survey to several of the large training facilities around Sydney revealed similar statistics in Australia, with estimates between 25 to 30 per cent. Why the increase? A little historic background provides some answers. Fifty years ago, recreational diving was primarily a man's sport. Divers were perceived as macho men, who speared fish, fought off sharks and other menacing sea creatures. Diving itself was considered dangerous, only suited for people like Jacques Cousteau, Hans Hass and Lloyd Bridges. What little dive equipment available then was designed for a man's body shape and size. There were a few pioneering women divers around at that time, such as Edith Scott the first woman in Australia to scuba dive, May Wells, possibly the first lady spearfisher woman in Australia, and she started about 1933. Then there was skin diver Lois Linklater who was diving in the 1940s, she then took up scuba diving, and today she is in her late seventies. There was also Pat McGee, Australia's first underwater film star. Two other girls, Cynthea Leech and Diana Dewer, were among the first women to scuba dive in Australia. Val Taylor made a famous swim with sharks in "Blue Water White Death" (1969), the only woman in the production.

Records show 25 per cent of PADI certificates issued in the last two years were to women.

Kathy Trout set a deep diving record, and then went on to become an overseas underwater model. There is an early woman diver that time has almost forgotten, Peg Conquest, the first lady to win the Australian Ladies Spear fishing Championships in 1954. Many years later Ethel Everett became the second woman to win the Australian Underwater Fishing Championships three times in a row. Val Taylor was the first, and as recent as 1988 Mary Anne Stacey one of Australia's most versatile lady divers won the Australian Underwater Fishing Championships three years in a row. Most of these women pursued diving not only as a sport, but also as a way of life. The emphasis in diving evolved to include underwater photography, marine biology, conservation, archaeology, travel and adventure. As the various certification agencies were established, diving began to benefit from greater public awareness and education programs. Enrolment figures grew, and the sport started maturing through the 1980s. With the advances in dive technology, came a wider range of equipment. The increase in women divers also made it commercially viable for manufacturers to further broaden that range. No longer did the female diver have to settle for bulky, black wetsuits, heavy tanks and king-size masks and fins. Manufacturer’s brought out lines of gear specifically designed with women in mind, with colours and styles and greater comfort, a benefit to all divers. Women represent the largest growth market in the dive industry today. Female divers invest just as much in equipment and education as their male counterparts, a factor that certainly is being addressed in the marketing of products. Ads now include both men and women, with the woman being more athletic looking than in past years.

SPORTDIVING MAGAZINE'S 23rd BIRTHDAY: Melbourne. It was back in October 1968 that a brand new diving magazine appeared on the newsagents shelves throughout Australia, titled “Skin Diving in Australia” the magazine evolved to become this countries most successful and popular diving magazine “Sportdiving in Australia and the South Pacific" some 23 years later. October 1968 saw the first issue of Australia's premier diving magazine, published as “Skin diving in Australia”, of which all but one of the nine feature articles covered underwater fishing. A mere 50 cents per issue.

A brand new diving magazine appeared on the newsagents shelves throughout Australia, titled "Sportdiving in Australia and The South Pacific".           

This quarterly magazine soon established itself thanks to generous advertising support. In 1974 the title extended to include New Zealand and again altered to include the South Pacific area in 1980. In early 1987 the magazine title was amended for what we hope will be the last time to "Sportdiving in Australia and the South Pacific". Over the years, there has been constant growth and it's recognised now as one of the top five sport diving magazines in the world today. Everyone who is anyone in the Australian sport diving scene has been published in Sportdiving Magazine at one time or another. The magazine has always encouraged input from aspiring amateur photojournalists, priding itself in its accessibility. Constant support is always given to clubs, associations, instructor bodies, and the sport diving industry in general. Its commitment to the Australian sport diving industry shows in every issue of the magazine. For 23 years, the magazine has continued to report, to advise, to inform, and to entertain. Today Sportdiving Magazine continues as the market leader. The 1991 DITM Industry Survey again places Sportdiving Magazine as number one scuba diving publication for the third year in a row in Australia, somewhat of an achievement.

OFFSHORE MINING AT PORT HACKING AND BOTANY BAY: Sydney. The Kurnell dunes, Sydney's traditional source of sand, is due to close. The present Government has granted a number of licenses to Ready Mix Industries to explore the possibilities of sand mining offshore of Port Hacking. The company hopes to operate a 100 metre long ship with a capacity of extracting about 4000 tonnes of sand from the sea-bed per run. The vessel will cruise up to 2 kilometres offshore at a speed of one knot, sucking up sand from the sea-bed. It will make two runs per day removing 8000 tonnes each day. If this lease is granted it will be for 10 to 20 years. Can you imagine the damage this will cause to this beautiful unspoiled area. The Port Hacking area has the cleanest water in Sydney, but if this vessel is allowed to operate, the sediment from its giant vacuum cleaner will effect the whole area. The long term effect on marine life and sand movement at our beaches from the dredging is something that no team of specialists (hired by Ready Mix) can ever predict. Dive and recreational fishing boats will be at risk with this vessel working so close to the coast. The wrecks of Undola, Tuggerah, Woniora, and Kello are also in its path. These wrecks, used by divers and fishermen for years will be lost and damaged forever. It has to be stopped now, there are plenty of alternative sources of sand in the Blue Mountains that can be trucked to Sydney by train or road transport. Stop sand mining in the Port Hacking area.

PANNIKIN PLAIN CAVE LONGEST DEEP WATER CAVE IN AUSTRALIA: Perth. Rannikin Plain Cave is near a lonely wayside roadhouse called Cocklebiddy, 1600 kilometres west of Adelaide. A deep cave extends from a small lake one hundred metres below the surface leading off into one of the deepest and longest underwater systems in the world. Cave diving is unlike any other pursuit. In a world where many other frontiers have already been pioneered, cave diving presents the most exciting voyage into the unknown. It is true exploration, each discovery is a first. It also provides glances and experiences of places where no human has ever been before. This attracts cave explorers to a place like Rannikin Plain Cave.






With the support of Australia's most experienced cave divers, Ron Allum, Peter Rogers, Phil Prust and Chris Brown, my wife Liz and I (Andrew Wight) and several other very experienced cave divers and cavers, we set about trying to unravel the mystery of the Pannikin Plain Cave. The expedition had been in the Nullarbor for ten days and had made two “push” dives plus numerous support dives. Chris Brown and I planned to leap frog Peter and Ron's push dive, retracing their newly laid guideline to the point explored. Our time had come to push to the end of the cave. It was now thirty-six hours from our surface preparation to the point of departure in the North Lake of Concorde. We had eight diving lights each and four hundred metres of guideline. We were now ready to go. Riding our Aqua Zepps like rockets, Chris and I sped past the first familiar 500 metres, beyond Concorde, we were keen to push on into the virgin passage ahead, into the abyss. The exhilaration of reaching the end of the guideline and going into the new cave is like a journey into outer space, leaping into darkness where our strong lights do not reach the walls, floating freely in an alien world. This is the essence of exploration, the thrill of breaking new ground creates a kind of euphoria, a dream. The cave continued for another 190 metres through a giant room into a smaller tunnel ten metres by five metres, its silted floor littered with a treasure trove of marine fossils. The tunnel headed north to a boulder choke where our bulky diving equipment thwarted our attempts to push through the rock collapse. By now we were over three kilometres from the entrance lake, we were at the end of the cave. This was the longest deep water cave dive in Australia, over three kilometres and a depth of up to thirty metres.

FIRST UNDERWATER NATURE TRAIL IN SYDNEY: Sydney. The divers who constructed an underwater trail in Gordon's Bay, Clovelly, in Sydney, claim that it is the first permanent underwater trail built in New South Wales and most likely in Australia. There are others in Queensland, at Lady Elliot Island, and throughout the country, but they are not permanent. Those responsible for the building and laying out of the trail were divers John Rowe, his stepson Angus Sullivan, pupils from Marist Brothers School at Pagewood and Peter Clark, all major contributors to the project. There were also others, like Joelle Davis the map maker, George Daniel and his friend John Daly who were also regular workers on the trail. Some eight hundred metres of six millimetre galvanised chain was used as a guideline. The work started in April l990 and was completed in November 1990. It involved some 30 divers, over 70 dives and approximately 109 hard working hours underwater. The trail is 700 metres long and takes an average diver, without stopping to check the fantastic marine life, about 35 to 40 minutes to swim. Air consumption varies enormously, but roughly as a guide, a 63 cf tank is sufficient and with an 88 cf tank, a diver may use only half the air. Many marine animals are territorial and you may observe the same fish, eel or shrimp at the same site each time you dive the trail. Divers have compiled a list of local marine life, which lists over 50 species. An excellent experience for all divers. Even for beginners it's particularly safe, just follow the chain trail you cannot get yourself lost and its a wonderful experience for beginner divers.

FIRST DECADE OF "UNDERWATER'' MAGAZINE: Brisbane. It's ten years since Neville Coleman began the venture into a dive magazine, “Underwater”, The idea was to produce a high quality publication (unlike anything available on diving in Australia at that time), which would present a professional image for the Australian Diving Industry, encouraging a greater participation indiving as an activity and thereby increasing conservation concerns and practices. Neville had hoped that within a short time the magazine would be supported enough to produce an Underwater Geographic magazine similar to "National Geographic", if not in size, at least in quality.It took six years before he believed there was enough interest Australia wide to launch the name Underwater Geographic magazine. To put it mildly the initial issue (No.25) was a bit of a disaster. Many dive shops cancelled their orders. However, now that “Sea Australia Resource Centre” is completed and we are at last on computer and we have excellent, experienced, very keen diving staff and field operatives, sales have increased and our ideas and hopes are expanding. There is notime to rest on our laurels, Underwater Geographic magazine is here to stay, and has firmly established it's publishing philosophy. Unfortunately the magazine was not here to stay and in a short time it folded.

HIGH TECH DIVING IN THE 1990s WITH NITROX GAS: Sydney. November 1991 will see the beginning of a new era in recreational diving when six Sydney side divers take to the ocean and demonstrate that enriching their air with a greater percentage of oxygen increases the margin of safety against possibilities of decompression sickness. Previously only used in commercial diving the professionally mixed “Enriched Air” known as "Nitrox" gives divers the capability of diving well loved locations for longer periods of time in greater safety. Under the supervision and instruction of qualified Nitrox Instructor Rob Cason; Vic Newton, Pat Bowring, David Strike, Richard and Tracy Morgan became the first sport diving school in Australia to teach Nitrox diving. The technology used to mix the gases has been brought together by Rob Cason, Nitrox gas instructor, and Sydney based High Tech Divers (Australia) Pty Ltd. “We have followed the lead from the US”, says Richard Morgan Director of High Tech Divers. With the increased percentage of Oxygen used in “Enriched Air”, a high level of understanding is required and special equipment designed. Previously this facility has been beyond the financial reach of sport divers and retailers. As has been demonstrated in the US, demand creates market, this in turn reduces cost. Fun Dive, run by Rob Cason, is the first recreational facility to install the technology capable of offering divers the opportunity to use enriched air. “We don't expect to be pioneers for long”, said Rob Cason. “It has been used in commercial diving for many years with success. Now in the reach of the recreational diver we expect enriched air to become common practice. This is the trend in the US as many stores are switching to Nitrox supplies”. As a qualified Nitrox Instructor and director of Nitrox Divers here in Australia, Rob Cason will be conducting Nitrox courses. There is no doubt that a new era in recreational diving has begun in Australia for divers seeking something a little different.

WHITE POINTER SHARK KILLS SCUBA DIVER: Adelaide. A white pointer shark believed to be 4 metres long killed a 19-year old scuba diver as his buddy looked on helplessly. Off duty police officer Dave Roberts watched in horror as the shark swam past him and attacked his mate. It was the ninth fatal shark attack in South Australian waters since 1926 and the fourth in the past six years. The attack took place on an underwater reef reserve that has become a popular diving location. The victim, Jonathon Lee, a student of the University of Adelaide, was diving with a group of other members of a Skin diving Club in 18 metres of murky water at a diving spot called the Drop Off.  Dave Roberts, a senior constable in the police prosecuting branch, said the group was on its second dive of the day and he and his buddy were returning to their boat when the shark attacked. "We were heading back to the boat which was not far ahead of us when I looked back at Jonathon and everything was all right. I turned back and went down to have a look at a colourful rock and then suddenly heard a thunder type noise. I thought it was a boat above us, but as I turned I saw a huge shark, it was very close to me and it was thrashing its head around", he said. The whole bottom silted up, the shark kept thrashing from side to side. It did not look at me, it just took my buddy first and dragged him past me as I was behind a rock.

SCUBA DIVING BIG MONEY SPENDER FOR QUEENSLAND: Brisbane. According to recent industry figures, scuba diving generates about $340 million for Queensland each year and is among the choice activities for international tourists visiting the State. In an innovative move, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has appointed to its first Post Doctoral Fellows to this speciality area of tourism. Dr Jeff Wilks, a psychologist and scuba instructor, began his fellowship in the key centre in Strategic Management by looking at the consumer end of the market. The development of diver profiles has so far revealed some interesting areas for marketing within the industry. One of Dr Wilks reports published in the Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, shows that popular media images of divers having problems with sharks, the bends and running out of air, are false and misleading to all. Not being able to organise their time so as to fit diving into a busy schedule is the main reason licensed divers discontinue the sport. So just do it the other way round, fit work into a busy diving schedule, it's so simple that a child could have thought of the answer in a flash.

AFTERMATH OF A TRAGEDY: Adelaide. South Australian waters have always had a reputation for sharks. Over the years, local surfers and scuba divers have suffered attacks on occasions, but because no scuba diver was attacked, they were statistically reassured of their safety. However, this reassurance was dented slightly when Terry Gibson disappeared during a lone scallop dive in September 1987, and the subsequent Coroner's Inquest found sufficient evidence to suggest that the missing person was indeed attacked by a large shark, causing his death. When 19 year old Jonathan Lee, was seen being taken by a shark while diving at Aldinga Reef drop off in September 1991, Scuba divers had more concrete evidence that sharks may attack a diver below the surface. There were also the reports of a rogue shark coming close to metropolitan shores, menacing boats, and clearly looking to craft as sources of food. Then in late November, a fisherman was forced to kill such a shark to protect his boat and crew. Around Adelaide, speculation was rife as to the cause of such behaviour in a shark, but whatever the reason, it was not good news for people boat diving in St Vincent's Gulf. Although much of the shark drama is exaggerated, it is true that diving activities around Adelaide have altered since the young university student lost his life at Aldinga. Owner and Chief Instructor of Adelaide Skin Diving Centre, Paul Lunn, found the effects clearly noticeable. “People have cancelled dive courses and some have actually returned newly purchased equipment”, he said. Equipment sales and dive course numbers at Adelaide Skin Diving Centre are down, but is acknowledged that recent widespread financial pressures in the community could be equally to blame for the decline as well as shark attacks.

TWO DIVERS DIE ON WRECK OF HIMMA OFF SYDNEY COAST:  Sydney. On Sunday, October 6, 1991, two Sydney scuba divers died whilst diving the wreck of the tug Himma. The Himma lies in 52 metres of water off Long Reef and is one of ten wrecks forming an artificial reef commonly called “Ship Reef”. These wrecks are spread over a square kilometre of seabed. The two divers were PADI dive masters, qualified in deep and wreck specialities and experienced deep divers. They were more than adequately equipped for dives to this depth. Sea conditions on the day were choppy early but this improved throughout the day. Visibility was good, there was little or no current with a noticeable change in water temperature at 24 metres. The divers were part of a party of four using a popular, well set up, dive charter boat. This boat has a good reputation, is competently run, and has all the necessary additional equipment for deep diving, decompression stage, and cross over line, spare air, oxygen, etc... A second charter boat also with four divers, was diving the same wreck. The two divers were the second pair to descend. They were sighted neither by the first pair nor by the four other divers from the second boat. I (Paul Rosman) heard that two divers had failed to surface around noon and knowing the wreck, was sure the divers could be in only one place, a compartment below deck level under the superstructure, entered by a hatch in the roof. This compartment has virtually no ambient light, has only 1.5 metre headroom and the floor is covered with up to 0.5 metres of silt. The situation is worsened by a number of hanging electrical cables. It is a dark, dirty, nasty place to be at 52 metres. When Stewart Bell and I arrived at the site on Monday afternoon, we were stopped from diving until the police divers had completed their fruitless search. We swam directly to the entrance to the compartment in question, only to find silt billowing out of the hatch, we decided it was too dangerous to enter. There was a school of thought that attributed the divers disappearance to a problem during decent, so we then searched astern and the port and starboard quarters out to 45 metres from the wreck, without result. I always believed that the divers were inside the wreck. I could conceive of no descent problem that would totally prohibit at least one diver, experienced and equipped as these two were from surfacing. Inquiries confirmed that one of the first two divers had dropped through the hatch, looked around, and immediately exited. The area was not silted before this. His brief excursion certainly did not create the silting we found. At this stage we considered it possible that the police divers had silted this area whilst searching. Later information indicated that it was silted when they approached it and not thoroughly searched. This silting confirmed our belief as to their tragic location. Tuesday morning saw us up before the sun with Stewart and I again diving about 7 am. We entered the compartment in question that was still badly silted and carried out only very limited penetration. We then exited the wreck and searched both port and starboard sides from amidships forward out to about 30 metres. We had previously checked both holds and the open areas of the wreck. We decided to leave our next attempt until Thursday to let the silt settle. Our plan developed around a team of four divers, I was to descend first video the compartment without entering and cut away several hanging electrical cables that lie next to the hatch. Bruce Jameson backed me up, illuminating the hatch. Stewart Bell descended, backed up by Andrew Owen, leaving his cylinder outside the bridge and entering with an umbilical (air line and safety line). Unencumbered except for a 15 cf pony bottle, Stewart entered the compartment whilst I tended his hose, Andrew watched his cylinder and Bruce illuminated the hatch. The video would not switch on, "Murphy's Law". Having found the victims, we predetermined that recovery of only one would be safe, considering silting, physical effort and bottom time. At the prearranged signal. I hauled Stewart and his sad burden back to the hatch where Stewart tied a second line to the victim and exited the wreck. Bruce and I pulled the deceased through the hatch and back to the anchor line where, with Andrew's help, we swam the body to 15 metres before attaching it to a line and floating it to the surface. Police were informed and their divers eventually recovered the second body about 11.00 am. What went wrong? The divers should not have been in that compartment without a line, a plan, mental rehearsal, and emergency plans. They obviously had no plan for silt out, no backup lights, no penetration practice, the cost was their termination of life. A sad happening for their families.                                                                                        

PORT PHILIP BAY POISONED: Melbourne. Remarkable publicity followed the disclosure of Nufarm's chemical waste disposal into a waterway that directly feeds into the Port Phillip Bay system. Despite the media hype, serious questions remain about chemical waste in the food chain. It was claimed that the Werribee sewerage farm where Nufarm's waste finishes contains up to 140 times the German recommended dioxin concentration. Nufarm's waste contributes over 50% of the toxin equivalent dioxin load to this farm according to Greenpeace. Recent studies on whales and dolphins in Port Phillip Bay have revealed alarming levels of highly persistent organochlorins, these were conducted by a senior veterinary pathologist with the Department of Agriculture. Despite a wealth of overseas information and reference that is freely available, organochlorin effluent containing dioxin continue to be released into an environment already suffering from chemical cocktails. The Yarra River, it is claimed, is as polluted with dioxins as Europe's Rhine River, Port Phillip Bay is polluted more than many parts of North America's Great Lakes. Victoria's EPA issues pollution warnings for Melbourne's beaches every summer. They do not tell us about the real level of chemical containment's or their long term effects on human and marine tissues. Divers must take care when scuba diving in the bay.

DANGER OXYGEN FILLED SCUBA TANKS: Sydney. CIG Gas Cylinders have been made aware of a potentially dangerous practice currently occurring in the scuba industry. Scuba cylinders are being partially filled with pure oxygen and then topped up to filling pressure with air (decant filling oxygen is dangerous). This practice should cease immediately as catastrophic failure and loss of life or serious injury can result from filling oxygen into cylinders that have not been prepared for oxygen use. CIG Gas Cylinders supplies aluminium scuba cylinders to the scuba industry in Australia and Southeast Asia and these cylinders are prepared for use in accordance with AS2705, Portable Cylinders for Contained Under Water Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) Safety Guide and are not to be filled with oxygen at any level.

HISTORIC WRECK OPEN TO DIVERS: Melbourne. Victoria's best preserved and best-known shipwreck, the William Salthouse, has been reopened to sport divers for recreational diving. The wreck, a 260-ton barque, was inward bound from Quebec when she struck the outer edge of a reef on Point Nepean on November 28, 1841. After continuing into the bay, she finally ran onto a sandbank between the West and South Channels, where she was abandoned. The ship drifted off the bank and sank early the next day. The wreck, which lies about 5 kilometres off Queenscliff, was closed to divers in 1988 after strong tides made it unstable. Artificial sea grass was placed on the sea-bed to slow tidal erosion and stabilise the ship. The wreck is a safe dive, but watch those currents. They are very strong at times, especially on the outward run.

OLDEST SCUBA DIVING PUPIL IN AUSTRALIA: Sydney. Sydney sailing identity Joel Mace, has set a record by learning to dive at 80 years of age. Joel achieved NAUI Openwater Certification in October through Frog Dive Willoughby's Master Instructor Paul Jones. The course, he said, was a piece of cake. Joel. a former race sailor. set a world record in the 1982 Sydney to Rio race when he was 70 years old and sailed a total of 145,000 miles around the world between the years 1982 and 1988. He began his sailing career late in life but was no stranger to adventure previously. The former owner of the Raja Curry House earned his pilot's license at 61. Scuba diving is merely the latest link in a chain of thrilling pursuits. “I had to do the course twice though, the first time I was just too nervous”, he said. "So I practiced and mucked about with a mask, snorkel and fins for a couple of months before I came back to Frog Dive to try again. “I owe a lot to my instructor, Paul. He was patient and understanding where others would have been looking at me strangely saying, What's that old bugger trying to do? “I get all the young fellas to carry my stuff around, the hardest part is getting in and out of the water.” He plans to do his diving in calm tropical waters.

DITAA OUT, DIVE AUSTRALIA IN, FOR BETTER OR WORSE: Sydney. The Diving Industry and Travel Association of Australia has undergone dramatic restructuring and renamed itself Dive Australia. The aim behind the change is to end the days of an established central clique of interested people representing the entire industry and open the organisation up for every member to be able to play a role and have a say. The new board of Dive Australia is made up of representatives from nine separate interest groups, who each hold their own meetings, elect their own delegate and raise the issues they believe are important. Once a member of Dive Australia you are automatically aligned with the group relevant to your place in diving. The Dive Australia board then elects a president, vice president, treasurer, public officer, and secretary from the representatives. A full report on Dive Australia's five year action plan will be reported in the near future. The Action Plan includes eleven priorities, Scuba Expo, National Advertising and Promotion, Market Research, Media Exposure, Industry Training, Marine Environment. and five others. There will also be annual awards to various divers.

EXTRA PROTECTION TO BE GIVEN TO THE WRECK OF THE SS GOTHENBURG IN NORTH QUEENSLAND: Brisbane. The remains of the SS Gothenburg have been given extra protection under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1978 following an announcement recently by the Federal Minister for the Arts and Territories, Wendy Fatin. A protection zone of 200 metres radius was declared around the wreck of the Gothenburg pursuant to section 7 of the Act. Under the terms of this declaration it's prohibited to take a vessel into the protected zone, to moor a vessel within the zone, take diving or salvage equipment into the zone, without a permit. The sinking of the Gothenburg was one of the great maritime tragedies of the 19th Century. The ship was representative of the early steamships participating in the coastal cargo and passenger trade so essential to the development of colonial Australia. The Gothenburg was a barque rigged steamship under charter to the South Australian Government and engaged on a regular coastal run between Adelaide and Darwin. In 1875, the vessel struck Old Reef near Bowen in Central Queensland during a severe storm. One hundred and three of the 123 people on board drowned, including the captain, all his officers, and several political naval and legal dignitaries travelling to Adelaide as paying passengers. The wreck was originally declared historic under the Historic Shipwrecks Act in 1981. It has recently come under significant threat of damage from fishing trawlers and souvenir hunters.

DRY SUITS TAKE OFF IN AUSTRALIA: South Australia. As dry suit technology has improved dramatically over the last few years, there is no doubt that future divers will be looking to dry suits without consideration to any wet suit. The new interest in dry suit diving has created the demand for specialist training and information. With little promotion, dry suits are without a doubt becoming a requirement for the diver of the near future, including cave divers, lake and ice divers, and wreck and deep diving enthusiasts.

Dry Suits are very popular in Australia particular in southern waters.

Those who are now staying warm and dry in sink holes, caverns and whilst meditating on the decompression bar are also using the suits for ordinary dives, which in turn is increasing general awareness and exposure. Women in particular are interested in the concept of remaining dry. The constriction created by a well fitted 7 mm wet suit can cause considerable discomfort. An obvious advantage of a dry suit is the increased comfort around the chest area. Since women generally have a higher surface area-to-mass ratio, they generally cool faster than men do. Being over cold can reduce a diver's normal decision making ability as well as strength and endurance. Wet suits do a poor job of keeping the body warm after a dive, especially when wind is blowing and the air temperature is below that of water temperature. Water evaporation acts as a refrigerant.


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GIANT SHARKS AT NINGALOO REEF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Perth. Over the past few years, some of the greatest and most successful dive and photography trips I (Barry Andrewartha) have had were dive trips where I did not do a single scuba dive. These amazing trips were all spent free diving with mask, snorkel, and fins only. Last month was one of my greatest dive trips ever in just 7 days we dived with 38 different whale sharks from 5 metres up to 10 metres in length. I took 22 rolls of film of these gentle giants and all of our diving was again free diving. Visibility was not always that great and the excitement of jumping off the boat, swimming toward the whale shark, and watching it come out of the gloom like a submarine would start the adrenaline pumping. During these dives, we came across turtles, manta rays, and schools of big turrum, rainbow runners, and barracuda. The most incredible dive was with a huge school of bait fish. Schooling golden trevally and rainbow runners had rounded up the bait fish into a tight ball around 4 metres in diameter. Under the ball of fish two huge whale sharks over 9 metres in length were swimming through swallowing huge mouthfuls of fish. It was mind boggling being right in the bait fish when the whale shark swam into it, its huge open mouth 1 metres across appeared just an arm's length away. All this happened at Ningaloo Reef Western Australia, it's a great place to be when whale sharks are about.

HERON ISLAND IS 150 YEARS OLD: Gladstone. Late in April this year, Heron Island will celebrate 150 years since it was discovery by Europeans. Over a week of festivities, a host of guests with a long association to the island will gather to celebrate the occasion. Heron Island is an idyllic unspoiled resort, just 72 kilometres off the coast of Central Queensland, and is renowned for some of the best diving in the area.

A popular tourist resort on the Great Barrier Reef.

Because Heron is a coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef, there are prime dive locations only minutes from the beach. Its annual dive festival held in November each year is a necessity for the enthusiasts. As the highlight of Australia's diving calendar, it's a chance to mix with fellow divers and experience incredible adventure dives with some of Australia's most respected marine experts. The yearly convention first started in 1959, and with great success has run ever since. Heron Island is one of the top dive locations on the Australian Great Barrier Reef.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S FIRST NITROX INSTRUCTOR PROGRAM: Rockingham. Western Australia's first Nitrox Instructor program was held recently at Malibu Diving Centre in Rockingham. It was a "live in" program with four candidates, Andrew Coy, Andrew Gill, Andrew Poole, Steve Sturgeon, and instructor trainer Rob Cason all staying at the centre's lodge. Malibu Diving Centre has already installed a Nitrox filling station and a second station will be on line soon in the northern suburbs of Perth. Malibu Diving Centre owner Steve Sturgeon said "We are holding several IANTD courses in the near future and will gradually extend the range of IANTD courses available at our centre. We believe we will see a major change in diving equipment soon, as manufacturers release new "Hi-Tech" equipment such as the Nissan re-breather unit. We will be using nitrox on our June and July Nullarbor cave diving expedition. The use of nitrox will increase our safety margin and reduce the risk of decompression sickness that's always a major concern among many deep wreck divers.

MELBOURNE'S FIRST NITROX INSTRUCTOR COURSE:  Melbourne. The weekend of May 15 and 16 saw the first IANTD Nitrox Instructor program completed in Victoria. Rob Cason, head of IANTD Australia (International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers), will come down from Sydney to certify instructors from two well known Melbourne diving organisations, Adventure Down Under and Melbourne Diving Services. The course participants were Ray Gosper, Peter Kafrouni, and Richard Bassed from Adventure Down Under, and Graham Petrie from Melbourne Diving Services. These instructors will be qualified to teach the following IANTD courses: Nitrox Diver, Deep Air Diver, and Overhead Environment Nitrox Diver.

MORE SCUBA DIVERS NOW THAN EVER BEFORE: Sydney. Scuba diving continues to grow according to the most recent statistics, PADI certifications issued worldwide for 1992 again exceeded half a million, totalling 515,628. This represents a 12 per cent increase in the total number of PADI certifications compared to 1991 totals. Of the divers receiving certifications last year, more than 300,000 lived in the United States. Outside the US, the number of certifications grew 23 per cent compared to last year. A majority of these certifications came through PADI's seven international offices, which accounted for more than 30,000 more certifications in 1992 than in 1991. PADI Australia, for example, experienced exceptional growth in 1992. PADI certifications issued to women continued to grow world-wide in 1992, increasing by more than 6 per cent over the total of five years ago. There were 25,000 more certifications issued to women in 1992 than in 1987. In the United States alone dose to 100,000 female divers received certifications last year. There also appears to be no upper age barrier in becoming a PADI certified diver, according to the 1992 totals. During the year, close to 5000 new divers over the age of 50 received a PADI Open Water Diver certification card. Of those, almost 100 were over 70 and two were 86 years of age. The number of PADI professional educator's worldwide also increased in 1992. By years end a record 55,000 PADI instructors, assistant instructors and dive masters were active in the scuba industry worldwide.

DIVER DROWNS BY LOCK AND CHAIN UNDERWATER: Sydney. A 26-year-old man was found dead chained and padlocked to a concrete block, seven metres under the surface at the Gordon's Bay Nature Trail at Sydney in January. The man, an unemployed geologist, was discovered dead by two off duty police officers who happened to be diving at the popular eastern suburbs dive site on January 14, just after 6 pm according to police, there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death but they refused to either confirm or deny details of the investigation until the coroner had announced his findings. Police expected the coroner to examine the case soon. The Police Media Unit initially announced that the deceased was wearing only a wetsuit when he was found. The statement was later changed to say the person found was wearing a tank and full scuba gear. Gordon's Bay is an easily accessible and extremely busy dive site in Sydney for both training dive classes and experienced groups of divers. The site also is used as a pick-up point for some Sydney dive charter boats.

WHITE POINTER SHARKS CAN BE CHOOSERS: Adelaide. The jaws of the great white shark can lift cars and overpower the strength of five humans but white pointers are fussy eaters, a recent study has concluded. Professor Ross Miller, head of materials engineering at the University of Adelaide, teamed up with great white survivor Rodney Fox and a US film crew for 12 days of studying the chomp power of the shark at the Neptune Islands off Port Lincoln. Sharks were enticed to bite lead, plastic and wood plates disguised as tuna. The impressions on the plates were used to measure the force of the bite to assist in the design of shark proof equipment.

WHITE POINTER SHARK KILLS MOTHER OF FIVE: Launceston. A 34-year-old mother of five children, Mrs. Therese Cartwright, was killed by a white pointer shark whilst scuba diving at a seal colony on Tenth Island near Launceston, Tasmania. Her diving companions watched in horror from the sea-bed as the five-metre shark seized her just meters from them. She was midway between the surface and the bottom when the shark struck. The last thing they saw was her being taken into deep water, the shark had her in its jaws. The other two divers made their way back safely before giving the alarm. Diving trips among the playful seals at the island have become increasingly popular with local divers. The seals are also a common food source for white pointer sharks. It's believed to be the third killing by a great white shark in Tasmanian waters in the past 18 years. A diver disappeared at Adventure Bay in 1975 and only tooth gouge marks were found on his weight belt. In 1982, a person snorkelling at South Cape Bay disappeared. Soon after, his companions saw a great white shark nearby. Since records began in 1791, there has been 491 attacks on swimmers, with 182 people being killed in Australia. In South Australia, where most of the attacks have occurred, nine people have died since 1926. Four of those fatal attacks, have occurred in the past eight years.   Mrs. Cartwright's family were watching from the back of the boat as she entered the water. “It was terribly traumatic for the people on the boat, all of whom were watching”, said Sergeant Galloway, a police representative.

White pointer shark, a feared predator in most oceans of the world.

Part of the woman's leg and a piece of wetsuit were found later floating about 2 kilometres from the boat. A pod of killer whales was sighted near the attack site the day after the attack, police searching for the woman's body made it impossible for divers to enter the water. Saturday, June 5, was a magic day, and water around Tenth Island was calm and clear, and the sun danced off the surface of the ocean. The island lies some 6 kilometres offshore from the Tasmanian north coast. Thousands of fur seals live and play on the foreshores of the island among the rocky outcrops. Most divers know that where seals play sharks prey, not just any sharks, but white pointers and generally large ones, the most dangerous and ancient predators of the sea. The first group of divers to enter the water from the stern of the boat were Steve Eayrs, a lecturer at the Australian Maritime College, Jo Osborne a designer at the University of Tasmania and Therese Cartwright. A short distance from the boat the three divers descended toward the bottom that was only eight or nine metres from the surface. Steve and Jo quickly reached the ocean floor, on the way down Therese stopped to clear her ears and adjust part of her equipment. As the two divers on the bottom looked up toward Therese they saw a very large shark, more than twice her size, attacking her, she was silhouetted against the surface and the shark was butting and shaking her, moving back and then in again, this time for the kill. The white pointer gave some big kicks with its tail and both divers could see that its whole mouth was around its victim. The shark then turned and with a number of powerful strokes swiftly swam away. Therese Cartwright was gone. The risk of shark attacks upon scuba divers in Australia is far less than having a car accident, nevertheless the thought of human beings savaged by animals is unacceptable in our society today. When a diver enters the water there is always the chance of a shark attack, when a pedestrian crosses the road there's the danger of being hit by a vehicle, these are the risks we take. The divers calculates the risk, a small one at that, rolls the dice and hopes for the best. Someone once said, "It is only by risking our person from one hour to another that we live at all". As the giant white pointer disappeared, Jo and Steve swam along the bottom in about 14 metres of water and hid in a rocky hollow for some sort of protection in case the shark came back looking for more victims. Jo wrote on her underwater slate, "What do we do?" Slowly, they both swam back to the boat and raised the alarm that Therese Cartwright had been taken by a shark.

CORONER'S FINDING ON DEATH OF PAUL CAVANAGH: Sydney. The New South Wales Coroner, Mr Derrick Hand, has called for the quick implementation of the Dive Australia Code of Practice, following an inquest into the death of one of the country's most experienced divers. Paul Cavanagh drowned on the scuttled bucket dredge, Cooloolie in the Tasman Sea on March 20, 1994. Mr. Hand made his plea after rejecting a Work Cover Authority submission that he recommend the use of full-face masks for deep dives. Mr. Hand referred to the code of practice, brought to the court's attention during the one and a half day hearing, saying that it had been compiled by people within the diving industry and provided the best guide to how recreational diving should be carried out in this country. He went on to say that no amount of regulation could prevent deaths from occurring. "I believe Paul Cavanagh's death came about through carelessness and you cannot legislate against carelessness", Mr Hand added. The court was told that Cavanagh, 43, assembled his gear at Long Reef car park before setting out on a charter boat for the early morning dive. He was using a twin set-up on hiback and carried asling bottle contained air. The other tank contained a mix of 49 per cent oxygen and 51 per cent nitrogen.  As was his standard practice, the independent first stage regulators attached to his twin set-up fed into a three-way valve mounted on his chest and from there to a single second stage demand valve. Mr Hand found that Cavanagh mistakenly switched the valve to the enriched air mixture from the start of the dive, possible due to confusion caused by the hurried assembly of his gear. Fifteen minutes into the dive, at a depth of approximately 48 metres, Cavanagh suffered a grand mental seizure, brought on by oxygen toxicity, and drowned. Two diving companions who had been unable to force his regulator back into his mouth after the seizure passed, brought his body to the surface. The court was told the former station manager of Channel 7 in Sydney had done many dives more than the depth at which he met his end, including one plunge to 100 metres. "He was a very experienced and qualified diver", Mr Hand said. "Maybe he pushed himself too far with his dives, but he had, in the past, shown that he was a meticulous diver in every respect". Mr. Hand also rejected assertions that the accident took place during a training dive for a trimix course. "I am quite satisfied that it was not a trimix dive. There was no trimix in the deceased's tanks, so I can only accept that it was not a trimix dive", he said. "It was the nitrox mix that caused death". While he hoped that the Dive Australia code would be implemented quickly, Mr. Hand said, that with a code of practice, you can still have a moment of carelessness resulting in death.

ANOTHER TECHNICAL DIVER DIES ON DEEP WRECK: Sydney. The death of Pat Bowring, an experienced technical diver, is the second fatality in the last three years involving deep diving on the Koputai, a paddle steamer wreck that lies 7 kilometres east of Bondi in approximately 70 metres of water. Scuba diver David Stace lost his life on August 13, 1993, from equipment failure whilst on the wreck. While divers take about two minutes to descend to the wreck, and depending how long they spent on the bottom, re-surfacing could take up to two hours because of the need for decompression. Pat Bowring knew the risks. He was scuba diving off Long Reef once again on wrecks, with close friend Richard Nicholls. Only Bowring and Nicholls returned from the dive that Sunday afternoon in March. On Friday May 24, 1996, Pat Bowring with four diving buddies charters a dive boat from Southern Cross Divers, aboard were divers Barry Hallett, Paul Bohler, Richard Taylor and David Apperley.

The death of Pat Bowring, an experienced technical diver. 

Once anchored over the deep wreck Barry Hallett and Paul Bohler entered the water and descended to the wreck with Pat Bowring following. Some distance below Bowring apparently had trouble and returned to the surface. Upon reaching the surface he appeared to swap regulators and to those on the boat looked to be in trouble. From the boat, David Apperley saw Bowring was in distress and dived in to help, when he reached the spot where he had seen Pat he had again sunk beneath the surface. Richard Taylor then prepared himself with diving equipment and descended to the wreck, located the other two divers and signalled to them asking if they had seen Bowring. The three divers then started looking for him on the wreck. After searching for a short time the trio ascended to the surface. After a short time they called the authorities with the news that one of their divers was missing believed drowned. At the time of his disappearance, Bowring was wearing an inflated buoyancy jacket and a dry suit, both of which could have been inflated on the surface with ease. A number of days later his dry suit was found ripped open under the arm on the right hand side, the rest of his equipment, tanks, weight belt, fins and buoyancy vest has not been found. This is the mysterious bit, if the suit was found near the wreck then it would be reasonable to assume that his gear would be close by. “It's quite bizarre,” said one police officer after the remnants of the diving suit were examined. Police refuse to speculate on what caused tears to the suit, but admitted they were baffled by the disappearance of his equipment. It is rather difficult to explain how he got out of his suit, the police said, to their knowledge there is no way he could get out without unzipping it. The effect of Pat Bowring's disappearance was most likely caused by a medical problem, possible heart related. Until the body is found, it is just speculation as to his disappearance.

UNDERWATER ROBOT SEARCH FOR DIVERS EQUIPMENT: Sydney. An underwater robot search the sea-bed off Bondi for 12 hours, looking for the air tanks of missing diver Pat Bowring. Police cordoned off the area around the search site, 7 km off Bondi Beach, for 300 metres, fearing other boats may sever the cable connecting the ROV (remote operated vehicle), worth $500,000, to controls on a salvage boat. An area of 200 metres south of the wreck was searched for 12 hours but the ROV failed to locate anything associated with the fatal dive. Police and salvage operators are searching for four scuba tanks carried by Bowring. The 45-year-old entertainment journalist, and husband of Women's Weekly editor-in-chief Nene King, was wearing two tanks on his back and two slung at his side to allow him to ascend from the 70 metre dive. The underwater robot searched the wreck of the paddle steamer Koputai where Bowring was diving when he disappeared. Brought from Western Australia at a cost of about $17,000 the robot, with its two man team plus back-up boat, is normally used for offshore oil exploration and maintenance work on Collins class submarines. With a daily operating cost of about $7000 it is believed the search will continue for another two days or until the tanks are located. The robot was dropped from a support boat of Gray Diving, and skimmed the sea-bed covering an area 200 metres south of the Koputai wreck. Operated via a cable with remote control and with two video cameras and a sonar tracking system, it locates objects on the seabed using the Global Positioning System. The robot has a range of 150 metres and can zoom in on objects for close inspection and if necessary retrieve them with a three finger claw. It is thought Bowring's near-full tanks would have sunk to the ocean floor where, it is believed, he was attacked by a shark on May 24 after joining friends on a dive charter boat. An experienced scuba diver, Bowring had enough air for four hours but appeared to be in trouble shortly into the dive. He indicated he was in difficulty and was returning to the surface. He was last seen some distance from the boat then disappeared.

NEW SHARK REPELLENT DEVICE FOR AUSTRALIAN SCUBA DIVERS: Melbourne. A revolutionary new anti-shark device has taken the international dive community by storm. Developed by the Natal Sharks Board and marketed by POD Holdings, the Shark POD (Protective Oceanic Device) is the world's first successful shark reveller. Launched recently at the Asian Dive Exhibition and Conference in Singapore the electric repellent is completely ecologically friendly and poses no threat to human or marine life. The shark's ability to detect electrical fields provides the key to the Shark POD. Special sensors in the shark's snout enable it to pick up tiny electrical signals, and POD technology exploits these same sensors in order to repel the shark. The electrical signals emitted by the Shark POD cause the shark to veer away, without causing any harm to the person using the device or to other sea creatures exposed to this electrical field. Even though millions of dollars were invested in shark repellents world-wide, it was the acclaimed Natal Sharks Board that developed the technology for the POD in a breakthrough that has officially been endorsed by internationally renowned filmmakers and dive experts, Ron and Valerie Taylor. This endorsement comes after exhaustive testing of a prototype that enabled the Taylors to swim freely with a variety of sharks including great whites without the limitations of a cage. The team believe that there is great potential for the POD.

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KILLING GREAT WHITE SHARKS IN VICTORIA: Melbourne. February The Victorian branch of the Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Victorian National Parks Association today urged the Victorian Government to move as quickly as possible to ban recreational game fishing of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in that States waters. The call follows today's announcement by the New South Wales Government that it will protect the shark immediately. It also follows Tasmania's protection of the species earlier in the year leaving Victoria's waters the hole in the protection net according to Kate Brent, marine project officer with the Victorian National Parks Association. “The decision to protect the great white in New South Wales and Tasmania is extremely encouraging”, Ms Brent said today. “Victoria has made some sound steps towards protecting the shark through its Flora and Fauna Guarantee process, but we are hoping that whatever else is needed will progress to complete protection without delay”. Ms Brent said she suspected recreational fishers would oppose calls for the shark's protection. “While recreational fishers might oppose the move, the scientific facts actually point to a major decline in the species which has been recognised by both New South Wales and Tasmania, “Ms Brent said. “Unless the recreational fishing community can provide scientific evidence (not just anecdotal information) that the species is OK protection measures should apply as a matter of precaution. “Ms Brent continued: "Sharks are the lions and tigers of our sea. No matter how much we might fear sharks, they play an extremely important role in keeping healthy ocean ecology. The fact that so few encounters between great whites and sea users occur in Victoria should allay fears that protecting the species may pose a health risk to people”, Ms Brent said. Moves to protect the great white shark in the past have been applauded by the likes of Professor Bellamy and underwater filmmakers, and Ron and Valerie Taylor. Professor Bellamy wrote to the Victorian Government during his May visit to Victoria requesting the shark be protected. Moves to protect the great white shark by some Australian States follow protection of the shark in both Californian and South African waters.

WHALE RESCUED AT SEA BY SCUBA DIVER: Narooma. As well as taking divers to Montague Island to diving with seals or explore the 116 year-old shipwreck Lady Darling. Bert Elswyk, charter boat skipper of the vessel Dallas on a morning cruise to Montague Island, came across a female whale and her calf that entertained his passengers. There were the regulatory tail raises and the calf had to show off how well it could jump out of the water while mum watched on protectively. Bert takes up the story. “A short distance away I noticed another whale putting on quite a performance. With the amount of splashing going on, I thought this would be a better for everyone to observe so I moved closer to see exactly what was going on. As we drew nearer, we saw the whale's actions were very strange indeed, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Although the mammal was splashing, it certainly was not playing. There was some sort of fishing gear wrapped around it's tail and the splashing was caused by its frantic efforts to stay afloat.

Bert Elswyk, charter boat skipper of the vessel Dallas.

It was entangled by a fisherman's trap line and floats, about 30 metres of 8 millimetre thick nylon rope which was attached to six medium polystyrene floats 20 centimetres in diameter. The line had wrapped several times around the trunk of the tail and as the animal beat its flukes to try to shake the stuff off, the weight of the floats while pushed underwater had caused the rope to bury itself deep into the tail and had locked it upwards in a manner which made it unable to swim. It was clear to me and all my passengers that if something was not done immediately the whale would perish by drowning. I immediately contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Services in Narooma by telephone to get someone out there to assist the animal but they had no one available at that time. I had my diving gear on board from the last trip to the Lady Darling the day before, so I suggested to the passengers I might have a go at freeing the gear myself. A unanimous decision to agree to let the skipper of their vessel leave them was made, so out came the gear. It must have looked incredible to the passengers because I have a dry suit and just pulled it on over my uniform, threw on a tank and in I went. Before donning the tank I manoeuvred the boat closer to avoid a long swim, as I turned off the engines, the whale turned towards the boat, stopped just short of the rear of the vessel, and waited. I entered the water, came in beside the whale to let her see me, and then swam to the back of the tail to see what I could do. The whale actually lifted her tail higher out of the water, which made it easier to reach the gear, and I could begin to cut it free.I do not know if it was just a reaction on the part of the whale but I felt it was lifting its tail to help me. I cut free the floats and some of the rope but a section was round the trunk of its tail just in front of the flukes.

I was a bit worried about approaching the whale from the side to cut her free in case she decided to overreact if I hurt her.

I was a bit worried about approaching the whale from the side to cut the remainder free in case she decided to overreact if I hurt her, so I went over the tail from the rear and leaned over to reach the ropes. I figured that if she was going to do anything to me, she would throw me backwards. I clenched my teeth on my regulator and began to cut the ropes away the whale hoping it would not flinch. Although the ropes were cut, three strands had become embedded in the top of the tail in a bunch of muscle, which was obviously the reason it could not get the tail down. I thought pulling these strands out would hurt it, and I knew they had to come out. I took a deep breath and pulled the first one out and although I had to pull quite hard, the whale did not react at all. I continued and pulled out the other two strands and eased myself off the whale's tail then backed away. I swam around to the side of the animal to eyeball it once more before backing away. While I was getting back into the boat, the whale swam off to the front of the Dallas and the cruise passengers watched the whale straighten its tail back to a swimming position. With a loud cheer from them, the whale dived away out of sight.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

NEW INQUIRY INTO DIVING DEATH: Sydney. Police are re-investigating the death of Channel Seven executive Paul Cavanagh who drowned during a deep dive on a shipwreck off Long Reef two years ago. Water Police diving squad technician Sergeant John Marshall said, “Statements have been taken from several people involved in the dive on the wreck of the Cooloolie March 20, 1994”. The fresh statements will be handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the next few weeks. Mr. Cavanagh was diving with Pat Bowring, who went missing off Bondi whilst diving with several other divers. New South Wales Coroner Derrick Hand found that Mr Cavanagh, a Channel Seven station manager, died from his own carelessness. He was diving to 50 metres, classified as a deep dive, with a home made improvisation on his scuba equipment that allowed him to switch between gases. A post mortem examination revealed Mr Cavanagh died because of an oxygen toxicity attack. The court was told Mr Cavanagh's switching device could have allowed him to breathe the wrong gas during his descent to the wreck.

VICTORIA'S FIRST REBREATHING COURSE: Melbourne. August 1997. Technical Diving International, or TDI as it is commonly known, attracted me (Allan Hamilton) for a number of reasons. After completing the basic Nitrox course, I knew that this was where the future of recreational diving was heading. The opportunity for me to participate in Victoria's first TDI semi-closed circuit rebreather course, organised by local TDI Instructor Syd Bell, could not be passed up. Late in May 1997 saw Course Director and Instructor Richard Taylor come down from Sydney to present the three day course (normally held over four days) to three other divers. Richard presented the UWATEC Atlantis 1 rebreather to us and it was obvious that this was a course that any equipment head or techie would revel in, although the theory is easier than the basic Nitrox course. The first part of the course covered Nitrox and rebreather theory and unit familiarisation. Its simplicity and well thought out design surprised me. Everything fitted into place and was even colour coded. We were to repeat the breaking down, cleaning and assembly of these parts many, many times during the course. Such a procedure developed understanding, appreciation and, above all, confidence.
The initial pool session that first afternoon completely blew me away. Here was I kneeling in water with a white plastic box on my back and a thick black hose, straight out of Sea Hunt, in my mouth and being told that I could stay underwater for up to three hours whilst utilising the air (Nitrox) from a four litre cylinder. Imagine diving as if you were a dolphin, silent and carefree. With buoyancy that does not change with each breath as you glide over reefs and bommies, breathing warm, moist and constant air, knowing that you have enough for three times the planned bottom time. Breathing from this unit was a pleasure. I actually felt myself smiling, not from narcosis, but from the physical and psychological advantages that were now apparent to me. It is the future. We have the opportunity to dive with tomorrow's diving equipment today. Silent, bubble reduced operation giving you enhanced association with marine wildlife.                                                                                                                                                                                     

MORE WOMAN IN SCUBA DIVING THAN EVER BEFORE: Melbourne. This is the most exciting time for female divers in scuba divings 50-year history. Statistics say that more than a third of today's new divers are female and the total number of women divers grows every day. Recreational scuba diving used to be perceived as an activity that was exclusively for men, arduous, cold, and uncomfortable. Today, women of all ages are more likely to view diving as an exciting, natural sport they can participate in. The numbers of women getting involved bears this out. According to one of the largest training organisations, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, more than 120,000 women in the United States received scuba certifications   last year, double the number of certifications issued to female divers just 10 years ago. Certainly, the beautiful underwater images and peaceful surroundings play a role in this growing trend, but modern training also plays a major role. Scuba training used to be very demanding and included physical requirements many men, let alone women, could not achieve. Long distance underwater swimming and ditch and recovery and free ascent training are examples. Today's training programs still train men and women to be safe and competent divers, but without the need for rigorous, sometimes unreasonable, training standards.

The number of woman divers increase every year. In 1953 there were only a hand full, today there are hundreds of woman scuba divers.

Scuba diving is one of the few recreational activities where men and women can participate equally. A few years ago when a woman started diving she was a part of a minority, in fact, women used to take scuba classes because their husband or boyfriend wanted them to. Now, it is often the women bringing the men. That's a significant change for the better. Equipment is another area that in the past has made it difficult for women to get excited about diving. Older equipment was not made to fit a woman's body. That is understandable, given divings military, male dominated background. Today, however, the growing number of women entering diving necessitates making equipment that appeals to them and fits properly. Manufacturers are now designing and marketing products exclusively for women divers. Women are seeing more streamlined equipment that is made to fit a woman's body, as well as wetsuits and dive skins that are based on real woman diver's measurements. Because this equipment fits, women are also more confident and comfortable in the water making them better and safer divers. This also makes them likely to keep on diving. As the number of women divers continues to increase, look for additional products targeted towards this important group. It is an untapped market, for many years women divers and the family market have not been pursued effectively and it's rewarding to see the industry's enthusiasm for these burgeoning markets.

SCUBA DIVING HAS NOW COME FULL CIRCLE: Sydney. Being isolated from the rest of the world, Australian divers in the pioneering days were self sufficient. From the early days of woollen jumpers, plywood flippers, and home made masks, then later twin hose regulators and other equipment, divers in this country have always had a pioneering spirit. Is it any wonder that a small number of new pioneer divers are making “home-made” rebreathers. While it has been said that these devices are "the future of diving" and wonders of modern technology, they are in fact a reinvention from the past and were around many years before conventional scuba was invented, well before the Second World War. Why build your own rebreather? The concept is a simple one, and compared to building your own demand valve regulator a rebreather is quite simple in construction. This is not to say that it is easy or that it should even be attempted by anyone but the most dedicated and conscientious dive fanatic, in fact, without the proper knowledge and understanding of what you are doing it should not be considered. The potential for disaster is enormous. Once the unit has been completed, it is another matter diving with one, and without a understanding of gas properties, physics, and physiology, you will probably not survive the first dive after completion. These are after all, life support systems in an environment where hypoxia, hyperoxia and hypercapnia are unforgiving. Nevertheless, in the last 18 months, three home made rebreathers have been constructed and dived by a group of Sydney diving enthusiasts, and several other units are under construction. Trial dives have ranged from 6 metre shore dives on closed circuit using oxygen, to 20 and 30 metre dives using Nitrox, to dives on various Sydney wrecks, including the Koputai in 78 metres, these units used trimix and heliox. After diving with a rebreathing unit, the underwater world is never the same again. Fish life is in abundance on dives that are normally mundane and appear barren on open circuit scuba. On a rebreather, these sites come to life with fish. The only problem is that you need to dive with another diver wearing the same type of unit. With a rebreather the ocean is truly the "silent world". On deeper dives, the conservation of inert gas, such as helium, amounts to big dollar savings. A regular dive on trimix would cost over $100 in gas, but on a rebreather it costs only a tenth as much. While parts needed to build a rebreathing unit are not expensive, sourcing them is time consuming and building a unit can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. The variety of design choices are many, proving there are many solutions to the same problems. As you begin construction you realise exactly how dangerous these units can be and find that the knowledge necessary to safely construct a home made rebreather is equivalent to the contents of an encyclopedia. A much safer option for most would be to buy a commercially available unit such as the Atlantis and receive training from an instructor who has many hours of practical diving experience, it is much safer for the average diver. Scuba diving has now come full circle, from the old closed circuit units used by wartime frogmen to today's modern rebreathers, a step forward in technology.

THE MYOLA BELL: Sydney. After one of our first exploratory dives on the Myola wreck John Riley casually mentioned he had come across the bridge area of the wreck and had noticed the ship's bell lying amongst the wreckage. As we sat and talked about how we should proceed with the wreck, the significance of the bell became more important. We were confident the wreck we had found was indeed the Myola. The twin boilers, the triple expansion steam engine, and the wrecks location were all strong pointers to its identity, but proof positive lay in the bell that hopefully had the ship's name engraved on its face. A permit to lift the bell was obtained from the New South Wales Department of Planning, and we were given three weeks to recover the bell. John was keen to go on the first day of August, a Monday. I (Peter Fields) had reservations as a westerly was blowing at about 25 knots, smooth seas close inshore but getting worse further out at sea. We went. Not before we had established a modus operandi. It was going to be too dangerous to leave an unattended boat topside so John opted to dive, as he knew the bells location, and I took the surface responsibility. I know this will offend the purists but we were happiest each with our allotted roles. John is a good diver and, like me, does not place much faith in the buddy system, rather placing a high premium on self-reliance in the water.

Peter Fields with the bell off the wreck of Myola.

The dive site was hairy. The wind whipping up a substantial chop, and there was little between South America and us if something should go wrong. I used my sounder and our knowledge of the wreck layout to place my anchor 50 metres down as near to the ship's bridge as possible. The anchor was only ten metres from the bell, however, the best laid plans of men go astray every now and again. On our first attempt, we were unsuccessful at raising the bell. The next day, Tuesday, was little better, so we started very early to try to miss the worst of the wind's velocity. Conditions on the site were about the same as the day before so we then modified our plan only slightly. John took down, one inside the other, two heavy duty catch bags. On the wreck it was only a short distance to the bell, at which juncture he popped all 12 kilos of the bell into the catch bags, clipped them on his BC, and came back to the surface. By the time we had completed the recovery and retrieved our anchor, the wind was blowing 30 knots and we were pleased and relieved to be underway and heading toward calmer water. As I started the final turn in towards the boat ramp my steering cable seized tight and stripped the steering head, a narrow escape A piece of history now belong to the people of New South Wales, and in the bell's place on the wreck a replica will be placed bearing the names of the four men who died with the ship on that fatal night of April 1919.

UNDERWATER FISHING BAN WITH SCUBA: Brisbane. Skin divers using scuba gear to spear fish for the lucrative southern markets are banned on the Great Barrier Reef, but underwater fishing using a snorkel will still be allowed. The move came after a Gladstone based company hiring divers to spear coral trout and cray's that are bringing particularly high prices. Ben Cropp said that the commercial use of divers would wipe out coral trout on the reef within 12 months. The area being fished is the Capricorn Bunker Group of reefs and islands. This area of reef is closely associated with tourism and must be protected at all times against this sort of fish killing. Underwater fishing with scuba equipment is now banned in all States of Australia for an indefinite period, it is a move in the right direction if we never see this sort of fishing again. This move by each State Government in Australia caused one of the greatest upheavals in the history of scuba diving and underwater fishing.

CAREFUL RECLAMATION OF A SLAVE SHIP: Perth. Marine Archaeologists in Western Australia have the best of two world's approach in their investigation of a sunken slave ship. They are based on three years research, redrawing plans of the ship, ]ames Matthew; with the final aim of consolidating what a slaver looks like. When the investigation is completed, the old vessel will be recovered with sand to protect it against a final decision to raise the wreck. The ]ames Matthew, a brigantine of 107 tonnes, was a little over 24 metres long with a breadth of 6.5 metres and a depth of 3.5 metres. She was originally the Don Francisco and was carrying 433 slaves and a crew of 34. With four passengers when captured in April 1837, by H M Brigantine Griffin. The ship was captured off the island of Dominica, after a seven-hour chase. condemned as a slaver she was later repaired, renamed the fames Matthew and taken under British registration. Her final voyage took place in 1841 when she sailed from London to Fremantle with a cargo of 7,000 slates, farm tools, and general merchandise. In those days, Fremantle offered little protection from onshore winds and vessels could easily be blown on to the lee shore during the winter months. When a squall hit the ]ames Matthew 24 hours after her arrival she parted her cable and was blown south on to Woodman's Point. Her masts were cut down but one pierced the ship's decking and she filled with water. The crew and passengers survived but the one death ironically was that of a fisherman who sought refuge earlier in the day. Today what remains of the ]ames Matthew has international historical and archaeological significance, as it could be the last surviving representative of the slave trade. Vessels built for the slave trade had to meet special requirements, shallow draft, fine lines for speed and internal fittings to provide for human cargo. These ships were famous for their sailing qualities and it was lucky that the Don Francisco (James Matthew) was not destroyed after capture to prevent her renewed use as a slaver. Modern research on the ship has been going on for four years through the efforts of the Western Australian Museum and the Underwater Explorer's Club. Their finds have included ceramics, glassware, clay pipes, shoes, an umbrella, builders and carpenter's tools and most interesting of all a 100 metres of rope. The latter, handled carefully, was brought to the surface in a bathtub, and then transferred to a special tank in the conservation laboratory in Fremantle. In the early stages of work divers faced the inevitable problem of uncovering the wreck from its protective prison of sand. They used a water dredge pumped through a pipe creating a back pressure that sucked sand away from the old wreck. This was not efficient because sand could only be transported 2 metres away. An air lift process powered from a special compressor operating on the surface can move sand up to 14 metres from the site, leaving clear water over the wreck site at all times. Western Australia is certainly the wreck capitol of this country.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “C” CARD: Sydney. The past year has seen several notable achievements in the political scene and in education, but the local Sunday diver is still being hit in the place that hurts him most, the hip pocket. Add to this the looming argument of certification, and legislation and it is little wonder that many Australians have the “Norm” syndrome. Let's face it, the administration of our sport is in a mess, and it is high time that all divers shed their cloak of apathy and start asking a few very pointed questions. Why should I become involved, you may well ask. For one very good reason. If you do not help make the decisions then other people will and their decisions may not be in your best interest. Most of us dive for pure relaxation and do not want to become involved with politics. Okay, but then do not be too surprised to find yourself faced with certification, higher costs, and more restrictions. Just where does the sport diver stand? For starters, if he or she wants to do a diving course, he could be looking at up to $140 for a recognised certification, mostly FAUI. What does recognised mean. It could mean your local dive shop would fill a tank for you. It could mean that you are allowed to join a resort dive boat. Every dive shop owner, dive boat captain, club, association or resort owner can make up his own mind about whom he recognises and until a uniform standard of divers competency is agreed upon, there is no such thing as a recognised certificate. That now includes the FAUI "C" card and any others that are on the market today. One other card has just come onto the Australian dive scene from America. It's known as PADI, the card is new and not much is known about this system of teaching people to dive. We do not need any outside instructor organisation coming into this country and telling us how to dive. Australia is a free country and scuba diving is free of regulations and that is how it must stay for all time, no regulations, no restrictions. Instructor organisations must get together and unite for the benefit of all.

DIVERS DRIFT FOR TWO DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS: Newcastle. Four scuba divers drifted for two and a half days off Port Stephens (NSW) recently when their boat's motor failed to start. The four divers were Tom Brennan, Barry Streete, Steve Ward, and John Rutherford. They were diving on the wreck of the SS Catterthun, only intending to be away four hours. During their ordeal of two days drifting, a large oil tanker passed within 100 metres of their boat without seeing them. Search planes had been looking for them all over the weekend and were at the extreme limit of a search pattern when they were spotted. Newcastle Water Police eventually rescued the divers, some 65 kilometres out to sea. On their trip back, they ran into very rough seas, the tow line towing their boat snapped when it overturned, losing everything; boat, motor, all diving equipment, cameras, and personal belongings. Four divers reached safety due to good luck.

COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT REJECTS SCUBA DIVERS FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIA: Sydney. In a letter from the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development, the Commonwealth Government has rejected an application for sport scuba diving development assistance for the Scuba Divers Federation of Australia, (SDFA) on the grounds that it recognises only the Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) where underwater matters are concerned. The AUF had, according to the Department, received a grant of $3,000 for the CMAS World Federation meeting in Paris, an executive bureau meeting in the United Kingdom and the South Pacific Tripartite Underwater Fishing Competitions. Can you imagine the public outcry if we organised competitions to kill Australian native animals? Even at one-of-a-species to weigh-in it would not alter public opinion. Yet this is exactly what is happening with Australian native fish off our coast and the government through some mistaken direction is encouraging it with gifts of the taxpayers money to finance and foster this destruction of fish for point scoring. Underwater competitions such as fish photo competitions, fin swimming, octopush, scuba competitions and underwater photographic competitions, must be encouraged instead of underwater fishing. "We will fight on", said the association. It all seems unfair when the Government supports one side of the sport and not the other. Scuba divers do have rights and those rights are not being considered and something must be done by the association to rectify this situation before it gets out of hand, scuba divers must be recognised by the government.

TREASURE SHIPWRECK STILL A MYSTERY: Perth. Skin diver Frank Paxman, of Inglewood in Western Australia, his son Barry and two friends were diving off Exmouth Peninsula recently, when they found some copper on the seabed. Soon they were picking up coins from this previously unsighted wreck. So far over 7000 coins, a bronze bell and fragments of ceramics and glass have been recovered. Excavations are being carried out by a team of marine archaeologists from the Western Australia Museum led by curator Graeme Henderson who says this is the most exciting of the 19th century wrecks. Coins recovered were Spanish dollars dating between 1760 and 1809. Acting director of the museum, Dr. Barry Wilson, says the wreck is quite exciting. “If it is a Dutch ship, it will be even more exciting because it would be a ship we did not previously know about”. Mr Paxmans party would not have found the wreck if the weather had been fine, but they were diving close to shore.

POLICE MOVE IN ON HISTORIC WRECK OFF NEW SOUTH WALES NORTH COAST: Sydney. The New South Wales State Government has taken emergency action to save a historical wreck from looters, it lies off the mouth of the Hastings River. Port Macquarie police were told to guard the largely intact wreck of the Ballina that until early this year was covered by sand at the river entrance. A police spokesperson said that unauthorised divers found on the wreck would face possible prosecution. Until now, police, local government officials, and others concerned about the fate of the wreck have been powerless to stop looters. They had been hampered because New South Wales has not yet proclaimed the Historical Shipwreck Act for its coastal waters. A Department of Public Works diver carrying out survey work for a sea-wall extension discovered the Ballina wreck, which had practically dug itself from its sandy grave with changing water currents and strong tides. About 4 metres of the Ballina lie upright above the bottom and about 37 metres of its original 53 metres remain under sand. At low tide, parts of the wreck, rigging, and stem are only a few metres below the surface. The 299 tonne paddle steamer ran aground on February 14, 1879, when leaving Port Macquarie. An attempt was made to free the ship but her engine broke down and she quickly filled with water, becoming a total loss.

DIVING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION FORMED: Melbourne. A meeting was held at the Windsor Hotel, Melbourne on February 15, 1979 to discuss the promotion of sport diving. Some twenty-four representatives from wholesale and retail diving companies attended the meeting, chaired by Adelaide shop manager, Mr Lunn said that one problem of the dive industry is that most dive shop owners were divers first and inexperienced manager's second, who needed to approach their activities with a more professional outlook. The comment was accepted by Melbourne dive shop proprietors in the constructive manner in which it was made. It was also stated at the meeting that in the past it was left to the amateur diving associations to promote the sport. The commercial industry itself needed to do more to encourage interest in diving, of course, with the basic objective of increasing sales. A follow-up meeting was held at the same venue on March 15, 1979, during which the Diving Industry Association was formally inaugurated with Barry Andrewartha as Chairman, Marty Owen as Assistant Chairman and Shane de Gelder as Treasurer. Marty Owen said that the basic objective of the Diving Industry Association would be the promotion of diving. Mr. Owen was asked for his comment on a suggestion that the DIA would be able to fix prices within each State. "Definitely not". he said. "Prices have not and will not be discussed, we are only concerned with dive promotion and the industry as a whole, as far as prices are concerned that's up to the dive shops".

MARINE RESERVE IN PORT PHILLIP BAY FIRST IN AUSTRALIA: Melbourne. The Governor of Victoria gazetted the Harold Holt Reserve on February 7, 1979. The reserve will cover five separate areas in and next to Port Phillip Bay. They are: Swan Bay, the rock platforms and adjacent reefs at Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean, and surrounds of Mud Island and Pope's Eye. Both commercial and amateur fishing will be banned or strictly controlled within the reserve, which embraces about 3200 hectares of the bay. Swan Bay is an important breeding and nursery area for fish and a valuable habitat for water birds, while the two kilometre square reserve surrounding Mud Island includes extensive sea grass communities. This move for a reserve does credit both to the Scuba Divers Federation of Victoria, which first put up the park proposal and the State Government. The area, which is rich in bird and marine life, is protected from depredation at the hands of fishermen, developers, and holiday makers.

AN ARTIFICIAL REEF NAMED CURTIN: Brisbane. An artificial reef off Queenslands Moreton Island was named after Brisbane's veteran commercial diver Frank Curtin. The Underwater Research Group of Queensland gained special permission to name the reef Curtins Artificial Reef. Frank, 70, is an active URGQ member; with other club members he helped build the 4500 square metre reef. He placed explosives on the two old tugs that form the reef and supervised their scuttling. The reef is also made of concrete tubes, old pontoons, a barge, car tyres, bodies, and a few hulks from old whale chasers.

Diver Frank Curtin. He helped build a 4500 square metre reef. 

"It's a fitting end to have the old whale chasers on the bottom providing a home for fish", Frank said at his Moorooka home. Frank, who works as a commercial diver for Evans Deakin in Brisbane, has worked on every addition to the reef since URGQ began the project in 1964. “I am honoured to have the reef named after me but it takes much of the glory away from the URGQ that was responsible for the reef. I am not the only one who worked on it”, he said. Frank has been a commercial diver for 25 years. He began diving as a sport in 1952 when he went underwater fishing with a mate. He later got a job as a full time diver. At 70, Frank has no plans to retire from the water yet. “After 25 years of diving there is not once I have been down that I have not seen something strange, interesting and beautiful”, he said. “It is so fascinating, I will keep diving”.

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN LADY DIVER PAINTS UNDERWATER SCENES: Adelaide. Jill Oak of the Underwater Photographic Society took up oil painting about two years ago and since then has displayed her works in several exhibitions. Unlike the artists we have seen, who display their work at the Oceans Congress, Jill paints real scenes of divers exploring the underwater world in wrecks and on reefs. Jill does not paint from slides, instead she tries to capture the atmosphere, or feeling she has for favourite diving spots, some of which she may not have visited for years.

FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING OF PADI AUSTRALIA: Sydney. The first official meeting of PADI Australia took place at Bankstown Sports Club on Tuesday, December, 1979. The meeting was called to introduce the PADI Australian Review Committee to the members and to outline the aims of the committee in Australia. The basic outline of the committee is to co-ordinate PADI activities and programs in Australia, to schedule Instructor Training Programs and make recommendations to PADI headquarters concerning all forms of Instructor applications including affiliate membership. The Review Committee will also be organising Workshops, Seminars, and Special Courses. Committee members are: Terry Cummins, Chairman; Russell De Groot, Agency Liaison; Dermot O'Flaherty, Secretary, Les Griffin, Review Secretary, and Steve Cross, Promotional Officer. PADI can only flourish with members as keen as Paul Cozens who flew down from North Queensland for the meeting and others travelling two hundred or more kilometres from either side of Sydney to attend. Any Instructor who could not attend the meeting can obtain, in writing, information from PADI headquarters. PADI now has representation in all States of Australia with the current membership running at 94 Instructors Australia wide.

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FIVE BEND CASES IN ONE WEEKEND: Melbourne. Five bends cases in one weekend. That's what happened recently in Sydney, all from sport divers. It seems an incredible amount and it's a wonder that there was not more publicity about the potential disaster. I (Peter Stone) know of the details surrounding two of these cases quite well, so will only discuss those. I think they may be typical of what can happen in Sydney waters, or anywhere else for that matter throughout Australia. First, the two divers were not experienced but were certainly not novices. In both cases, they were diving under strict control to 50 metres, to the extent that: (A) Their dive plan was worked out and followed. (B) They dived in groups of four and all divers stayed together. (C) All four divers in each team did the same bottom time and the same decompression stops. Yet two divers on two separate occasions got the bends, only slightly; but sufficient for some concern. All five cases have recovered completely after treatment at HMAS Penguin and Prince Henry Hospital. How could these cases have occurred? The first and most obvious question to ask, what tables were used? Answer, US Navy tables. To southern State divers, perhaps no more need be said, but New South Wales divers use these tables regularly. They give greater bottom time (so I am told) to dive the several popular wrecks off Sydney in 50 metres of water. This extra time, however, comes with one large sacrifice, safety. The only conclusion is to use the US Navy tables with full knowledge of what you are doing and be prepared to take the consequences when they occur. The only fear I have is that HMAS Penguin may get upset at the number of sport diver bends cases, and lobby to limit sport scuba diving to a particular depth with the use of particular tables. Let us hope that common sense prevails, from both sides.

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT GRANTS $25,000: Brisbane. The Queensland Government has given solid backing to Downunder 77, the Fifth World Underwater Congress, by recently announcing a subsidy of $25,000 to the host organisers, the Australian Underwater Federation. A lengthy submission was made to the Government in February 1976, seeking assistance for some aspects of the Congress that will have more than a little effect on the publicity given to Queensland, as if the Great Barrier Reef needs the promotion. It is expected that some 3000 delegates will attend the four-day Opening Program in Brisbane between Friday, September 10 and Tuesday, September 13, before the Congress Cruise vessel the Fedor Shalyapin sets off on its 12-day cruise through the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Reefs. The delegates will represent over 50 nations. This should be one of the best Congresses held in this country, and probably in the world. Divers interested should contact the AUF.

ABALONE DIVER DIES: Eden. Barry Bell, 19, of Eden, New South Wales, an abalone diver, died in a decompression chamber after an incident off Gabo Island near the New South Wales border. Police believe that he died of air embolism when pockets of air formed in his bloodstream. Cann River police said that Bell was diving to retrieve a lost anchor when a fisherman he was working with noticed that he was in trouble. Bell was taken unconscious by fishing trawler to Mallacoota. Doctors at Bairnsdale Hospital decided to take him by helicopter to a decompression chamber, but Barry Bell died.

DIVER FINDS GHOST SHIP:  Melbourne. A full rigged ship that disappeared mysteriously in 1905 was discovered by scuba divers off Kangaroo Island, in Bass Strait. The ship was the Loch Vennachar. The Loch Vennachar was one of the Scottish Loch line and sister ship of the ill-fated Loch Ard that went down off the Victorian coast near Port Campbell. At the time, Loch Line was one of the most modern fleets sailing on the Australian Service. When the ship failed to arrive at its destination an extensive search was carried out but failed to uncover any evidence as to the disappearance of the vessel. As time passed the Loch Vennachar slowly sank into Australian underwater history. Until just recently upon its discovery by scuba diving wreck hunters from South Australia.

WRECK DIVER DROWNS: Tasmania. A young man drowned whilst scuba diving on a wreck off Scotts Point about 5 kilometres south of Dover recently. He was Barry Davies of Minerva Street, Howrah. Davies was one of 10 members of the Tasmanian Scuba Diving Club who were searching for the wreck of a sunken barque, the Katherine Shearer. Davies had been underwater for approximately 40 minutes when he ran out of air. Another diver, Brian Furry of Crabtree, shared his regulator with Davies for about 5 minutes and attempted to bring him to the surface. Apparently Davies was carrying a bag of souvenirs from the wreck and was reluctant to let go of his trophy. Unfortunately the weight of this bag forced them back to the bottom. When Furry found himself unable to help Davies, he surfaced for assistance. Mouth to mouth resuscitation was given to Davies after they managed to bring him to the surface, but he failed to respond. According to newspaper articles, Davies had dived on this particular wreck before. The Katherine Shearer is a relatively safe wreck to dive upon, it's not too deep, there is not much in the way of entrapping a diver, however most casualties are caused by divers themselves and unfortunately this was the case here.

NEW DISCOVERIES OF SHIPS GRAVEYARD: Melbourne. Two new underwater discoveries in the Bass Strait ships graveyard were made recently by members of the Geelong Skin divers Club who have been diving consistently over the past 18 months in deep water between Point Lonsdale and Torquay. The two latest findings were the SS Rotomahana which lies in 36 metres of water off Barwon Heads, and a striped but unbelievably intact ex RAN T class submarine 33 metres long about 4 kilometres south east of Point Lonsdale. The 1777 tonnes Rotomahana was the first ocean going steel steamship ever built, and was scuttled in 1928. The submarine, one of seven T class presented to the RAN by the admiralty in 1919, was purchased by a Melbourne salvage company in 1924 and sunk outside in ocean waters in 1927. Other graveyard wrecks discovered by the club in, the past 18 months are the SS Milora, SS Batman dredge Beverwijk and another submarine. Each wreck was buoyed for a period of approximately one month allowing easy location for members without depth sounders on their boats.

LIFE-JACKETS: Sydney. The greatest news for years is the appearance in dive shops of one of the best life-jackets available to scuba divers, the “Fenzy,” the diver's parachute, la brassiere pneumatique. Sometime ago there was an article about the pros and cons of various life jackets rubbishing CO2 jackets in favour of the air inflated types. The two air inflated jackets freely available in this country were judged good and far superior to anything in the CO2 range. Unfortunately, both of these jackets had small irritating faults that turned some people away from life jackets. It would be a pity if they never got around to trying a Fenzy Vest which is one of the best on the market today.

TREASURE IS NOT FOR THE FINDER: Perth. There is one among us who claims to have achieved many great discoveries, and with a bag of bullion and a Bellarmine jug, is doing the rounds of the dive clubs extolling his virtues. Western Australia diver, Allan Robinson, claims to have found the Gilt Dragon, among other things, and has waged a war with anyone who doubts his credibility, including the Western Australia Government the Commonwealth Government, the Western Australian Museum, the police and apparently his family. His book, TREASURE IS NOT FOR THE FINDER, is interesting reading, and Allan Robinson is a super entertainer. Logic and facts seem to have been sweep aside in the book, and there are doubts about the man who tells divers not to trust the Government or the police and not to report wreck findings to the Receiver of Wrecks. His book, published by himself, is a bitter attempt to attack his many enemies and does little to further the cause and attitude of the government toward wreck finders. As to his assertions, that he has discovered a Phonetician Trireme and a Chinese junk off the Western Australian coast. All I can suggest is that Mr. Robinson was suffering from a rather severe case of literary narcosis when he put pen to paper. There is one way to prove such wrecks exist. Let us see evidence of this wreck so we can make up our mind whether one exists upon our shores. What a find if it does.

TREASURE EXPLORER CHARGED: Perth. Western Australia diver Alan Robinson, author of “Treasure Is Not For The Finde”, has been remanded on six charges concerning relics and artefacts from the Dutch wreck Gilt Dragon. Robinson has pleaded not guilty to two charges of disposing of historic relics without a permit, in contravention of the Historic Shipwreck Act. Robinson, who now lives in Melbourne, claims he found the wreck of the Gilt Dragon in 1957, and is seeking $2 million compensation from the Federal Government for artefacts and coins. A hearing before the State Full Court is expected in March.

GREAT BARRIER REEF NOMINATED FOR WORLD HERITAGE LISTING: Townsville. The nomination of the Great Barrier Reef for inclusion on the World Heritage List is one of the significant events of 1981 for Queensland and Australia. If accepted, the reef will join a unique international inventory of world wonders that already includes the Yellowstone and Everglades National Parks and the Grand Canyon. Announcing the nomination on September 14, the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, and the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke Peterson, said in a joint statement that the reef clearly met the criteria for inclusion of natural properties on the World Heritage List. The nomination identifies the diversity of flora and fauna within the region including more than 400 species of coral, about 1500 species of fish, 250 species of birds, and 6 species of turtle that have breeding grounds in the region of the reef. Two of the turtle species have breeding sites of world importance, and the dugong, an endangered species, also has extensive breeding areas on the reef. The submission will be completed after consultation with the Government, this may take time. A number of departments have to be consulted before the plan is passed, however, we cannot see any difficulties.

SHIPWRECKS DECLARED IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Perth. The Minister has declared fifteen wrecks in Western Australian coastal waters as historic shipwrecks. The declarations, made under the Historic Shipwrecks Act are intended to protect them from collectors and souvenir hunters. This would prevent further damage to the wrecks and to the relics associated with them. Divers could still dive them provided they did not interfere with the wrecks or remove relics from the vessels or in surrounding waters. Under the Act, anyone holding relics from the wrecks must provide descriptions and locations of the item. The oldest of the wrecks was probably that of a ship that foundered on the edge of the Great Australian Bight before the Swan River Settlement was established. Known as the Eyre wreck, it's believed to be of the period between 1800 and 1830 when American, British and Dutch vessels hunted whales and seals along the southern coast of the Australia continent. Other wrecks declared historic include the Perth of the Adelaide Steamship Company, she went aground in 1887 at Ningaloo Reef near Point Cloates. The SS Eddystone became stranded on a sand bar in 1894 when coming into Depuch Island anchorage, aboard were passengers for Cossack and Wyndham. The Captain was blamed for careless navigation of the wreck of Villalta that went down just north of the mouth of the Moore River on the night of November 9, 1897. Five crew drowned when the German iron barque Katinka one of the largest vessels to visit Hamelin Bay, broke in half in 1900 while loading timber. Some men died when the stern section broke off and sank. The Norwegian owned sailing ship Crown of England was wrecked near Depuch Island in 1912. She broke into three during a cyclone while loading ore at anchor. Of the crew of 20, only 12 survived. The wreck of the iron steamer Zuir, was reported by Barry and Frank Paxman and Glynn Dromey of Perth. The site of this wreck is considered to be of value as a recreational and educational resource. The iron steamer Windsor, dealing in the sandalwood trade with China, was wrecked near Pelsae Island in 1908. The Captain was among three crew lost during the incident and a further two men died in subsequent rescue attempts. Due to the Captains incorrect reading of navigation lights, the four-mast British Barque Mayhill struck fast on treacherous Moore Point Reef off Champion Bay in 1875. It's hoped this wreck will be preserved as a valuable recreational asset to the Geraldton Community. The Manfred a 587 ton barque, was a victim of a cyclone in the Lacepede Islands in 1879. The Browse Island wreck was a large 19th Century iron sailing vessel used for exporting guano. The Karrakatta was a schooner rigged coastal steamship, bound from Fremantle to Singapore, with passengers and mail, and struck a reef during the night near Swan Point in 1901. The Fynd, a small iron Norwegian whaler, was blown aground near Point Cloates during a cyclone in 1923, there were no reports of loss of life due to quick action taken by the captain.

HISTORICAL TASMANIAN SHIPWRECK PROTECTED: Tasmania. The merchant vessel Sydney Cove, wrecked in 1797 near Flinders Island in Bass Strait, is now protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act. Under the Act all the remains of the Sydney Cove and all material connected with the wreck and the survivors camp on Rum and Preservation Islands are now protected. The area around the Sydney Cove is already a State reserve under the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Act 1970. Under the Act divers are prohibited from removing material from or interfering with the wreck. Divers are also required to notify Mr. Cohen if they already have Sydney Cove relics in their possession. The Sydney Cove was carrying the first commercial cargo sent to the new colony of New South Wales. When wrecked she was loaded with a cargo of about 7000 gallons of rum and general merchandise. Events leading from her misfortune had profound effects on the small convict outpost at Port Jackson. As a direct consequence of the wrecking, Matthew Flinders, the great sea explorer who was on one of the rescue vessels, noticed westward setting tides, and discovered Bass Strait, thus shortening the sea route to Sydney from England by about 1400 kilometres. In addition, large herds of hair and fur seals were found in the area, This allowed the young colony to generate its own income, attract entrepreneurs, and become attractive as a place to settle. Mathew Flinders was eventually wrecked himself on Cato Reef in the Coral Sea when returning to England after mapping most of the Australian coastline.

GRANT FOR SHIPWRECKS: Perth. Four underwater fishermen are now $30,000 richer after finding the wreck of the American China trader Rapid that sank on a reef off Point Cloates, Western Australia on the night of January 7, 1811. Their reward, a payment made under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act, was announced by the Minister for Finance and Member for Fremantle, Mr. John Dawkins. Rewards such as this are paid by the Commonwealth to encourage discoverers to notify and relinquish their discoveries to the nation so that the wrecks can be protected from plunderers and can be studied undisturbed. The four divers, father and son Frank and Barry Paxman of Inglewood, Western Australia, Glynn Drorney of Padbury and Larry Peterson of Masterton, New Zealand, discovered the wreck in 1978. The Commonwealth later increased their initial reward of $17,500 when excavation and identification of the wreck revealed its considerable historic and archaeological value to the past seafaring life of early shipping along the Australian coast.

AIRDIVE CELEBRATES 30 YEARS IN BUSINESS: Melbourne. The Victorian company Airdive Equipment Pty Ltd, run by Jim and Fran Agar, has just celebrated its 30th year in the Australian diving industry. In those 30 years Jim and Fran have seen a multitude of changes to the sport diving industry, changes that Jim and Fran have played parts significant in shaping. In January of 1954, Jim Agar finally made the plunge, to turn his hobby into a business. Jim had taken up aqualung diving a few years previously and, fascinated with this exciting new sport, he became increasingly involved. The new business, named Sea Bee Marine Sports and Diving, was set up at 436 High Street. East Prahran, the current home of Ern Ireland's Diving Headquarters shop. As you can imagine in 1954, there were not the multitude of brands and types of equipment and gear that exist today. Jim, with his engineering background, began making his own equipment. just six weeks after setting up his retail business Jim hired a manager for the shop and formed his manufacturing company Airdive Equipment. The front of the shop handled retail sales for this fledgling new sport while Jim retreated to his great love, the engineering workshop out the back, to begin making the historic Sea Bee regulators for Australian divers. By 1956, the name, Sea Bee, was known by divers all over Australia and Jim registered two new businesses. The Victorian Aqua-Lung Centre, (to replace the name Sea Bee Marine Sports and Diving, as the name Sea Bee had now became Airdive's brand name) and a second, The Victorian Aqua Lung School. Even at this early stage Jim had realised that without diving schools to teach the curious and the brave this new death defying sport he'd have no one to sell his products to. By 1962, both businesses (Airdive and the Victorian Aqua Lung Centre) were going so well Jim formed them into companies. Nineteen sixty two also saw the first Sea Bee wet suit on the Australian market. There isn't a diver in Australia through the early 1960s who didn't own a Sea Bee wet suit at one time or another. By 1969, Airdive had outgrown the High Street address and the shop was sold to Ern Ireland who currently operates "Diving Headquarters" from the same address today. Jim and Fran had consolidated their manufacturing operation to their factory in Dandenong, Victoria, where Jim concentrates on his one great love, design, engineering, and manufacture. Over the past 30 years Jim's contribution to the Australian Diving Industry is immeasurable, in fact this time, 30 years ago, a young and naive Barry Andrewartha approached Jim Agar at Airdive with an outlandish dream, to publish a colour diving magazine called, "Skin diving". Jim guaranteed to take two full page ads every issue to help get the magazine going. It is people like Jim Agar whose contributions are often overlooked in the diving industry in this country.

HISTORIC SHIPWRECKS: Perth. Five Western Australians, who have reported the discovery of historic shipwrecks, are to be rewarded by the Commonwealth Government. Clinton Rigby, Michael Theil and Kevin Wellard, who discovered the main wreck site of the historic shipwreck Cumberland are to be granted an interim reward of $1200. Denis Robinson and Drew Bathgate get $400 for locating the wreck of the Lubra at Junen Bay in Western Australia. The Cumberland was wrecked between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Hamelin on the night of March 4, 1830. The Lubra played an important part in the development and trade of many sections of the Australian. coast during 36 years of service in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Western Australia is the richest State in Australia in terms of shipwrecks dating back long before the settlement of Europeans in that state, more are likely to be found in the coming years along the West Coast of the State.

PANDORA'S BOX TO BE REOPENED: Brisbane. The Australian Government's support of $70,000 will enable an international team of marine archaeologists to attempt in November and December to locate the remains of "Pandora's Box", Mr Barry Cohen, the Commonwealth Minister for Home Affairs and the Environment, announced today. Mr Cohen explained that after the British hunted the Pacific Ocean for the Bounty mutineers, fourteen of the Bounty crew had been imprisoned in a specially built wooden cell on its quarter deck called "Pandora's Box". "Seventy thousand dollars is being provided", Mr Cohen said. "In recognition of the national and international importance of the Pandora which was wrecked in 1791 on the Great Barrier Reef near the tip of Cape York during the return voyage to England". Worldwide interest is reflected in the distinct likelihood of the National Geographic Magazine covering the expedition both above and below water. Western Australia underwater photographer and expedition member Mr. Pat Baker has been approached to do the photography for the magazine. The expedition organiser is Mr Ron Coleman of the Queensland Museum, and the maritime archaeology leader is Mr Graeme Henderson of the Western Australia Maritime Museum. The expedition is planned to occur between November 7 and December 17 this year, with the city of Townsville as the expedition's point of departure. Excavation of the wreck site will start at the stern and the team of divers will work forward in rotation using the specially designed grids laid over the site during the 1983 expedition. Maritime archaeologists will also attempt to establish the extent of the remains of the hull beneath the seabed. The project should create interest among divers and those interested in marine archaeology.

NEW DIVE NEWSPAPER IN PRINT: Sydney. The new newspaper is named, "In Depth". Its editor believes that such a paper is needed and fills a gap among the three magazines and the diving public. The editor said that right from the inception the diving industry needed a new medium, a regular monthly publication relative not only to the sport, but to every diver. The initial response has been very good and I know In Depth will be a success providing we get the support needed. Its editor, Mr W Shields, said that, old news is sad news, it's our motto and I intend to let the divers know what is happening NOW. After a number of issues, the paper went into liquidation. From the start it was below par and not well received by the diving public.

UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCIETY: Sydney. The Australian Chapter of the Underwater Photographic Society will be officially launched at Scuba Expo 1995, in conjunction with the Sydney International Boat Show at Darling Harbour, July 27, to August 1. If you've tried or wanted to try shooting underwater pictures or video, joining the Australian Underwater Photographic Society (AUPS) is an excellent way to learn, share images and ideas with others and gain hands-on experience. The first AUPS event is the PADI Seven Seas competition and exhibition of underwater photography, video, and marine art. AUPS was founded to link all levels of underwater photography and their images together, find new and exciting ways to improve and exhibit marine images and to use pictures to share the secrets of the sea and the thrill of diving. The AUPS is an amateur organisation especially setup for all scuba divers interested in photography.

SCUBA EXPO A SUCCESS: Sydney. The Halls of Darling Harbour, Sydney's most prestigious exhibition and conference centre, rang once again this year between July 25th to 30th, with the noise of over 70,000 people committed to boats, water sport activities and scuba diving. A massive $300,000 television campaign on all Sydney Television Stations, supported by radio, magazines, newspapers, outdoor advertising, and a PR campaign which featured television information breaks. It attracted people from all lifestyles and exhibiting scuba diving retailers achieved well over their targets with people signing up and paying for scuba diving courses. The Expo was the most exciting showcase of scuba diving ever held by Dive Australia. Over 120 exhibitors, and 100 workshops presented by 25 different suppliers, non stop pool activities and demonstrations and a huge presence from both sponsors, Kodak (Australasia) Ply Ltd, and PADI. Congratulations must again go to the event organisers, Jacquie Cummins and Barbara Mottram, who for the last 11 years have treated the Dive Industry to the benefit of their accumulated professionalism and expertise. A very professionally managed, smoothly run Expo, that benefits the promotion of scuba diving in Australia and world-wide.

FIRST OF ITS KIND IN AUSTRALIA: Bundaberg. Bundaberg's Alan Wilson did something he has wanted to do for years. He learnt to scuba dive and with his many years of experience in youth training, he set about starting the first youth scuba diving club in Australia. Not just a club for qualified open water recreational junior divers to join but a club that opens the most fantastic world that man knows. The Bundaberg Junior Scuba Divers Club became an incorporated body on July 31, 1996 and the response for membership has been overwhelming with an expected 150 members by the end of the year. All because of the interest of one man and his love of the ocean. Membership has been opened to kids from the age of 10 to 18 years at a cost of $40 per year and a weekly subscription of just $2. Sections are divided into three categories, 10 to 12 year olds, learning skin diving, 12 to 15 years olds, and learning open water junior divers. Advanced levels are underwater photography, navigation and specialist courses for 15 to 18 year olds learning open water diving and any of the other courses that are offered. Alan believes he can offer future diving some of the best young instructors in Bundaberg.

OLD CLUB IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA SEEKS NEW MEMBERS: Perth. The Underwater Explorers Club is seeking new members to be introduced to the State's underwater wonders. It was established in the early 1950s, then in 1956 formed Western Australia's first scuba diving school. The Underwater Explorers Club is Western Australia's oldest scuba diving club and in later years, trained the police diving team. Being a non-profit organisation with a membership of about 80, they assist the community by being part of the Avon Descent Rescue Team, and have been responsible for many Western Australian wreck discoveries. They have also assisted the Department of Conservation and Land Management in mapping reefs and surveying marine life. Always endeavouring to find new dive sites, they have their own boat and go on weekday and weekend dives to Rottnest and Carnac Islands, plus many other exciting locations. Activities include long weekends away, special overseas trips, night diving, exploration and wreck dives, plus a very active social calendar all year round.

DIVING LEGEND DIES TRAGICALLY IN MOTORBIKE ACCIDENT: Cairns. Scuba diving legend Tui Murray died tragically in a motorcycle accident near Townsville on May 20 aged 43 years. Best known for his trademark Mohawk hairstyle and vivacious personality, Tui has become an icon in the diving industry and his death will be a big loss to tourism in North Queensland. The mad Maori was born in Palmerston North in New Zealand in 1954 and spent 2 years in a Seminary studying to be a priest before his first overseas trip to join a cultural group in Japan. But Australia was where Tui wanted to be and he moved to Melbourne almost 15 years ago and worked as a security guard before moving to North Queensland and establishing himself with the then little known dive operation, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. His hairstyle and fiery looks formed the basis of an international marketing campaign and he became a world wide symbol for diving in North Queensland with many divers arriving from overseas thinking he was Mike Ball.

The popular Tui Murray worked for Mike Ball for a number of years as a dive master.

In terms of scuba diving, Tui probably knew more about the Coral Sea than anyone else on earth, with "pet" fish at almost every dive site and a deep love of the ocean. He once joked how he'd spent more than a decade running dive trips to the Coral Sea and establishing new dive sites but never had one named after him. His many dive friends agree that will have to change. Soon after he married Jenny in 1992, Tui gave up week long trips to the Coral Sea and took up the job of Trip Director on Watersports so he could spend more time at home. However, even two-day trips were too much for Tui when his daughter Amanda was born in 1995 and so he accepted a job offer as Trip Director for fast cat operators, Pure Pleasure Cruises, and again established himself as the consummate dive host. You would have to travel around the world three times before you could find someone who has a bad word to say about Tui, his Maori looks disguising one of the most gentle and caring people you could imagine. He was a great man with a huge heart. A really sincere, honest and beautiful person. Tui was larger than life itself. Hundreds of people turned out for his funeral, hundreds more wish they could have. Tui was a very good friend to all and he will be sadly missed.

WINDING UP OF DIVE AUSTRALIA: Melbourne. Confronted with one of the toughest and most critical decisions in the Association's history, the board of Dive Australia have, at a meeting held on the 28-29th of May, elected to cancel the 1997 Scuba Expo event. As a non-profit organisation, Dive Australia has traditionally depended for its income on industry support through membership dues, and on the success of the annual Scuba Expo. With many businesses in the diving industry feeling the effects of a poor 1996-1997 summer season and despite a concerted effort by the Dive Australia Board both membership renewals and Scuba Expo stand sales to date have been slower than anticipated. Rather than destroy the credibility of the diving industry and following extensive professional advice the board have reluctantly made the decision that to continue with the staging of the 1997 Scuba Expo event would succeed in further crippling an already suffering industry. All members of Dive Australia and exhibitors of Scuba Expo 97 will be receiving notification shortly from Star, Dean and Wilcox of a special general meeting of members of Dive Australia and creditors to be held in early July, where Dive Australia's situation will be explained in detail. Dive Australia has come a long way since being founded in 1984 by a small group of individuals committed to promote the diving industry. As all organisations do, it has had to adapt to changing circumstances and meet new challenges as they arise. The decision to cancel this year's Scuba Expo event was not made lightly. It is one that will undoubtedly, cause frustration and disappointment to many, but has been made in the believe that to do otherwise would not be in the diving industry's best interests. All industries undergo times of difficulty, and restructuring is a natural process of those difficulties times. As an industry we are capable of overcoming all obstacles, let us look to the future in a positive way, and the future will be ours. Dive Australia is now in liquidation. There exists a vacuum in the dive industry for overall promotion.

GREAT WHITE SHARK PROTECTION IN QUEENSLAND: Brisbane. Well, who said that Queensland would be the last to protect any sharks? After all, the pressure over the past few months has tipped the scales in favour of national protection of the Great White Shark. January 31, 1997, saw Mark McKecknie and Ian Gordon, Australian Shark Conservation Foundation, invited to be on a panel at Sea World in Queensland to answer questions about shark conservation. To everyone's surprise, the minister for Primary Industries, Trevor Perrett, used the opportunity to announce the dual protection of the grey nurse shark and the great white shark in Queensland. The State Government is to introduce new measures to protect great white and grey nurse sharks in Queensland waters. His announcement coincided with Shark Week, being presented by the Discovery Channel. Queensland joins Tasmania and New South Wales in the protection of the great white shark with Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia well and truly dragging the chain on this issue of white shark protection. Hopefully each of these States will become organised within the next few months. Grey nurse shark protection has been in place in New South Wales for 12 years and the protection in Queensland is long overdue. Mr Perrett said the Australian Shark Conservation Foundation and Sea world had raised the issue of the grey nurse shark with him after it was revealed that dozens of the sharks had been slaughtered for their fins. “It became evident some fishermen were engaged in the shocking practice of live finning sharks so as to obtain the highly sought after shark fin for the Asian seafood trade. “This will be outlawed in Queensland and heavy penalties will be put into effect to stamp out such abhorrent fishing practices. “While protection of the great white is necessary to prevent deliberate targeting by mainly recreational groups, the safety of bathers on Queensland beaches is paramount as far as our Shark Net Program is concerned". Shark netting along some beaches will continue for an indefinite period of time.

BELL SALVAGED FROM SCOTTISH PRINCE WRECK: Brisbane. During a recent dive on the wreck of the Scottish Prince, situated off Main Beach, at the Gold Coast, Queensland, Paul Savage and Stuart Ireland came across what many divers would consider in Queensland as the "Find of the Year." Marine biologist, Stuart Ireland was engaged in a fish count documenting species on and around the wreck. While Paul as usual swam around poking his head into strange places, toward the end of the dive Paul tugged at Stuart's fins, he directed him underneath a large iron sheet recently uncovered by the shifting sands. Stuart looked in awe, barely exposed, nearly buried in sand, was a rim of a bell. Immediate removal would be contravening the Historic Shipwrecks Act, but leaving it there may have led to some unscrupulous diver recovering it, with the bell heading to some private collection and never located. They decided to leave it there and apply for a permit to collect the bell for the Queensland State Museum. The permit finally arrived and they recovered the bell from the Scottish Prince. A wonderful find for a couple of divers.

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK GETS PROTECTION IN TASMANIA: Tasmania. The Australian Marine Conservation Society is delighted with the forward thinking and rapid response of the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries (DPIF). As part of its campaign for the sustainable management of elasmobranches (sharks, skates and rays), the Australian Marine Conservation Society, with the support of the Australian Seafood Industry Council, has recommended an end to targeted fishing for the great white shark in the waters of all Australian States. Tasmania is the first State to take the initiative and has moved swiftly to amend its fisheries regulations to provide for total protection of great white sharks in its waters. Although detailed information on the population status is scarce, that which does exist suggests that the white shark is a rare animal. It was this conclusion that led the management agencies in South Africa and California to adopt the precautionary principle and declare the animal a totally protected species in their waters. The South Australian Fisheries Department has also proposed to protect this species and New South Wales is considering the recommendation. South Australia is renowned for sightings and captures of white sharks, possibly due to the seal and sea lion colonies also found there. As apex predators, the great whites are the ocean's stabilising force, keeping prey populations in check and ensuring healthy marine ecosystems. far north as Hervey Bay in Queensland and along the coast of Western Australia. They are following the humpback whales heading back to the Antarctic with their newly born calves. Their diet consists mainly of fish, turtles, and marine mammals. The occasional human death where a single individual is involved is usually a case of mistaken identity. This was probably the case with the recent unfortunate incident in Western Australia with an abalone diver. It also needs to be put into perspective. It is estimated that over 100 million sharks were killed worldwide in 1989. With an average of 25 fatalities globally through shark attack each year, this equates to 4 million sharks killed for every human death. Compare this to the fact that around 3000 Australians are killed in motor vehicle incidents annually and approximately 10,000 people are killed by cobras alone in India each year. Thanks to films like Jaws, large sharks have received a very negative image, whereas the truth is very different. The great white is an intelligent, complex animal, both in its social interactions with others of its species and as a predator of supreme adaptability. They are also warm-blooded. Their body temperature being approximately 6 degrees above the temperature of the surrounding waters. They reach lengths of 6 to 7 meters and can weigh over 2 tonnes. They produce small numbers of well-developed young with low natural mortality. The high incidence of capture of young white sharks is in the Great Australian Bight and other areas of South Australia. This suggests this is an important reproduction and or nursery area. Concern over the decline in shark numbers is growing, due largely to the fact that the trade and status of sharks is largely unknown. However, sharks were the only fishery issue brought before a recent Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference last November, where a resolution was passed calling for a study of the biological status of sharks and the effects of the international trade in sharks and shark products. Over l00 of the 380 shark species are exploited for the global shark trade. Of concern is the international trade in shark fin exports, which doubled between 1980 and 1990, driven largely by the Asian demand for shark fin soup. This resolution has set an important precedent. Very rarely are non-listed species debated in the (CITES) forum. It happened because very little is known about total numbers and that shark's slow growth rate, late maturity and low fecundity make them vulnerable to over exploitation. The great white is found throughout temperate and subtropical regions of the world's oceans. It is one of the least understood of all the sharks and some estimates have put its global population at less than 2000. Even though Australia and the United States are the only countries with any sort of management of their shark fisheries, even this is not being carried out in a sustainable manner.

PIONEERS OF DIVE CHARTER BOAT CRUISES TO THE FAR NORTHERN GREAT BARRIER REEF:  Cairns. The live-aboard dive charter industry at Cairns was born when Auriga Bay commenced operations in 1979 to be the first specialist dive boat to operate in this area. Excursions to the Ribbon Reefs, Cod Hole, and the Coral Sea were in those days a real adventure. The Auriga Bay established its international reputation by offering adventure diving safaris to previously unexplored areas of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. In 1983, with the Ribbon Reefs and Cod Hole established as world class destinations, attention was then turned to the Far Northern section of the Great Barrier Reef. Combining the best features of the Coral Sea and Ribbon Reefs diving, this pristine wilderness was destined to call divers back each successive year to the present time. They are small detached reefs in the Coral Sea and the outer Barrier Reef where coral capped pinnacles rise a thousand metres from the depths providing a sheltered home for myriads of small colourful fish. Predators such as large sharks, barracuda, tuna, potato cod, and giant Queensland grouper can be seen on every dive.

Skipper Graham McCallum of Auriga Bay 11.

Sea fans and soft corals adorn sheer walls where butterfly cod raise their defensive spines in silent warning. Green sea turtles abound, and at one site more than 1,000 were counted, in one night, struggling ashore to lay eggs in warm coral sands. Many first divers to this area have returned repeatedly, others annually, to revisit and explore the region more thoroughly. Catering to groups of 10 divers, Auriga Bay 11, 17.60 metres in length, a purposely built dive boat, continues in the tradition of her namesake. Skipper Graham McCallum has dived the area since 1983, there are few sites that have not been assessed by Graham or one of his crew. “We know this region in detail”, he said, and run a comprehensive schedule of extended trips during October through December when we expect optimum weather conditions. Reef Explorer Cruises Pty Ltd was incorporated in 1981 to co-ordinate live-aboard dive vessels operating from Cairns and promote adventure diving cruises to the remote and largely unexplored regions of the Outer Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Over the years, Reef Explorer Cruises has successfully completed diving cruises to almost every reef in the Coral Sea and along Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Both Barry May, twice Australian Spear Fishing Champion, and skipper Graham McCallum, have a lifetime of experience in the Australian diving industry. This experience, together with more than 15 years of operational know how in the Northern Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea region, result in the expertise which produces outstanding diving adventures. A much improved refitted Auriga Bay 11, still running expeditionary dive trips to the Far Northern Great Barrier Reel. as well as to local and Coral Sea reefs.

SUCCESS TO LYN ADRIAN: Darwin. Darwin underwater photographer Lyn Adrian has taken out the major award at the International Marine Photo Contest held in Miami last month. Lyn's winning photo took out Best of Show and first place in the wide-angle section together with another of her entries coming third in the same photographic section. Lyn's win follows husband Lance who won Best of Show at the same competition last year, making it a unique event, husband and wife winning in consecutive years. The International Marine Photo Contest attracts over 800 entries from many countries with rich prizes including dive travel, dive equipment, dive computers, and trophies. This win follows Lyn's win in the last Australasian Underwater Photographer of the Year Competition where she took out Best of Show and first place in the Novice Section, along with the Top Shot Award and her first placing in the Western Australian Underwater Photographic Society's Portfolio Competition. Both Lyn and Lance have been chosen to represent Australia in the World Championship of Underwater Photography, this is a prestigious bi-annual event and they will be competing against 18 other countries.

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Copyright 2016: Tom Byron The Chronicle of Scuba Diving in Australia The First 70 Years. 1950 TO 2019.