Wreck to Reef http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk Fri, 22 May 2015 08:13:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Huge thanks to Paul Rose for his most welcome support of Wreck to Reef http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/thanks-to-paul-rose/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/thanks-to-paul-rose/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 15:08:42 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=852 slider-advocacy-03

Huge thanks to Paul Rose for his most welcome support of Wreck to Reef: http://www.paulrose.org/article/wreck-reef

About Paul

A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet.

He is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. With a proven track record in business engagements, Paul is a sought-after speaker, chairman, host and moderator for industry, government and NGO events.

Former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society (link is external) and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division, Paul is currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions (link is external).

He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station (link is external), Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, he received the US Polar Medal.

Paul is a mountain and polar guide leading Greenland Icecap crossing and mountaineering expeditions and polar science support logistics. He worked for four years as a Mountain Safety consultant to the oil industry in the Middle East.

On his 2012 Greenland expedition, Paul led the first expedition to successfully traverse a new 275km icecap route of Knud Rasmussen Land and repeated his first ascent of the north face of Gunnsbjørnfjeld, the highest mountain in the Arctic.

His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey’s Institute Diving Officer. He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. He remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.

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Portland Coastguard Update… http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/portland-coastguard-update/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/portland-coastguard-update/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:29:38 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=843 Coastguard-helicopter-106-on-exercise-with-RNLI-off-DorsetWe have just had this notification from Cindy Rodaway at The Maritime and Coastguard Agency:

As you are aware that MRCC Portland will cease communications during the week 15th – 18th September and will be transferred to the New National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham.

All the Aerials that are currently being used by MRCC Portland will not change they will just be linked with the NMOC rather than MRCC Portland. The only difference will be the call sign; it will no longer be Portland Coastguard. The area currently covered by Portland & Solent Coastguard will be covered by one call sign of “Solent Coastguard”.

I believe for the time being that the telephone number will stay the same and be connected to the NMOC but this is scheduled to be changed but I am unsure of the timings on this.

As the Portland District Dive Liaison Officer for the last 6 years, it has been a pleasure to have had a good working relationship with yourself and other’s linked with diving in the district.

I have been successful in securing a position at the NMOC as a Maritime Operations Specialist, unfortunately I am unsure whether the Dive Liaison role will be continued so for the time being I am going to carry on as usual until it is confirmed and I am happy for you to contact me via email if you require info/advice on anything dive related.

One important detail is the switch in call sign.

Very sad as there has been a lot of history behind the “Portland Coastguard” call sign, and indeed the whole operation 

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Dorset Echo coverage… http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/dorset-echo-coverage/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/dorset-echo-coverage/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:27:44 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=838 The project got some great coverage from the Dorset Echo yesterday… read the article here

Reef project could yield £60m over decade


PEOPLE are being urged to throw their support behind an underwater project that could bring £60million to Weymouth and Portland over 10 years.

Wreck to Reef aims to sink two ships on a square kilometre of seabed in Weymouth Bay – there is space for a community reef, lobster reef and memorial area.

The volunteer-run project wants to create a destination for divers to visit and the idea is that they will stay in the area and spend money.

The artificial reef created from the cleaned ships would also provide a home for marine life such as lobsters, crabs, fish and plants, and volunteers want to create an education area.

The lobsters would then replenish stocks in the area and support the fishing industry.

Working with local schools they aim to populate the community reef with sculptures made from Portland stone as well.

Organisers say that a similar project in Plymouth saw the decommissioned warship HMS Scylla cleaned and sunk and the latest figures from the site show it has attracted more than 30,000 divers and generated £60 million for the local economy in the last ten years.

Wreck to Reef (W2R) hope to have the same success with their project.

Last month artist Simon Faithful sunk the first art sculpture on to the community reef site.

The concrete boat sculpture was set alight and sunk to the bottom, where it will become a home for marine life, plants and fish.

Around the lobster reef a memorial reef will be created using solace stones.

The triangular stones will provide a home for the lobsters and other marine life.

Wreck to Reef is the only group in the UK to have permission for a one square kilometre area of seabed.

In the case of the Scylla the South West of England Regional Development Agency and the National Marine Aquarium came up with the funding.

The W2R organisers have launched a petition asking people to show their support for the project and urge the UK Government to gift the project a ship to use on the site.

In other areas of the world, including Thailand and Portugal, ships have been gifted to groups to become artificial reefs for dive sites. The petition hopes to change the government’s mind and get them to gift at least one ship to the site.

Dave Fowler from W2R said: “It’s a community project, there’s lots of facets to it. You don’t have to be a diver to get involved.”

He added: “Education, ecology- it’s all there. It ticks all the boxes.”

Marcus Darler from the project said: “It will be amazing for the economy. We are all local people. We want to see Weymouth and Portland thriving.”

He added: “It could be guaranteeing significant investment for the town. To volunteer on the project or to sign the petition visit wrecktoreef.co.u

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Diving Fabrica REEF http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/diving-fabrica-reef/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/diving-fabrica-reef/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:16:36 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=831 REEF-image-2-jpeg-Photography-Gavin-Weber.-Copyright-Simon-Faithfull-2014We are being asked if the Fabrica REEF is available to dive. This is not one of the two Ex-war ships that we are planning but the first of hopefully many contributions within the Community area of the Wreck to Reef project.

It can be dived but we would ask that the 5 cameras that are sending live feeds to the internet, are given a wide berth and left to do their thing so non-divers can see the marine life grow.

The co-ordinates are Lat 50 36’58N Long 002 20’ 51W. Depth is 21.6 mtrs to the sea bed and 17.2 mtrs to the top of the wheel house. It is a mile and a half off Ringstead beach about 3 miles from Weymouth. Its 45 feet long so not the biggest but perfect for its purpose.

There is a large yellow buoy attached to it with solar panels to drive the cameras and Wi-Fi links, so finding it should not be a problem. The cameras alternate being on every 5 seconds so someone may see you at some point.

We are in the process of undertaking some housekeeping regarding the cable routing so may well be diving the site over the next few weeks.

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Fabrica REEF Sinking today… http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/fabrica-reef-sinking-today/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/fabrica-reef-sinking-today/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 10:17:05 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=822 BuLQmJUIAAAwLTdThe Fabrica REEF project is being sunk today! To watch live and see footage from cameras on board as it sinks be sure to sign up here:http://reef.launchrock.com/

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Fabrica – REEF http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/fabrica-reef/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/fabrica-reef/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:55:38 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=809 To be notified of the launch of the Fabrica REEF project please sign up here: http://reef.launchrock.com/

This August, artist Simon Faithfull’ will purposefully sink a boat in Weymouth Bay, south-coast of England. The event will be broadcast live to viewers via a downloadable app.

From the moment the boat begins its journey to the bottom of the sea, onboard cameras will transmit live video images so online viewers can witness the boat’s slow metamorphosis into a new underwater ecosystem, in the form of an artificial reef. The cameras will then remain transmitting for a year, with the images relayed to exhibitions in Brighton, Calais and Caen.

REEF is Faithfull’s most ambitious project to date representing a unique collaboration between the artist, arts organisations, marine industries and conservationists, divers and specialist technicians.

Collaboration with partners in Portland, Dorset, most notably Wreck to Reef, a not-for-profit organisation seeking to regenerate an area of the seabed near Portland has been key to the development and success of REEF.

Sinking the boat
REEF begins in August in Portland when the boat will be towed out to sea and set alight. As the fire burns, the boat will slowly sink to the seabed beginning its new life as an artificial reef – a new ecosystem gradually emerging around the wreck.

Witnessing the boat sink and monitoring its progress
Online audiences will be able to see the boat sinking via a downloadable app The live video-feed from these underwater cameras will continue to be broadcast online via a dedicated website showing the world a mysterious process of transformation – a defunct vessel slowly becoming a colonised artificial reef.

Exhibitions and audiences
REEF is a key commission within the Brighton Photo Biennial (BPB14) that explores the role
photography performs in relation to ideas of community, collective and collaboration. It will premiere at Fabrica (Brighton) in October, as part of Brighton Photo Biennial before touring to FRAC Basse Normandie (Caen) and Musee des Beaux Arts Calais as part of two larger exhibitions of Faithfull’s work.

In September film footage of the sinking event and live video streamed from the seafloor will form the basis of a complex installation in Fabrica. The architecture of Fabrica (a former chapel) is reminiscent of a huge upturned boat and suspended beneath its rafters two large projection screens will show excerpts of the boat smoking and sinking beneath the waves. At ground level, a series of bulky monitors will show the mysterious images coming from the drowned boat.

Looking up, visitors will see the two large projections set against the ship-like timbers of the church’s roof. Recorded footage will show the last moments of the vessel’s life in the daylight above the waves. Down amongst the visitors, five monitors present the live footage from the seabed, struggling to make its way back from another darker, slower realm.

REEF will then tour to northern France as one element in a major two-site survey of Faithfull’s work showing at FRAC Basse-Normandie (5 December 2014-15 February 2015) and Musee des Beaux Arts,
Calais until June 2015.

Other works that will be shown at FRAC Basse-Normandie alongside REEF include: 0º00 Navigation
(2009), Going Nowhere 2 (2011) and Quenanville as Antipode (a premiere presentation of a new

At the Musee des Beaux Arts, Calais REEF will be presented alongside: Cross Channel – 6 Days in
Limbo (2011), ‘44’ (2005), ‘…Stromness…’ (2005), Falling (2005), Escape Vehicle no.6 (2004) and
Liverpool to Liverpool (2010). Details about each of the work can be found on the artist’s website:

Key REEF events:
August – the boat sinks in Portland, Dorset marking the beginning of a continuous online broadcast for
12 months.

12 September 2014 – 13 Fathoms, a performance lecture by Simon Faithfull, part of B-Side Festival,
Portland, Dorset.

3 October 2014 – Opening weekend of BPB2014 (continues until 2 November 2014)

4 October 2014 – REEF opens at Fabrica, Brighton (Preview 6-9pm 3 October, exhibition continues until 23 November 2014). The gallery programme includes 13 Fathoms, a performance lecture by Simon Faithfull, and From Wreck to REEF, a discussion event about the how and why of artificial reefs and the making of Faithfull’s REEF project.

REEF will then tour to northern France as one element in a major two-site survey of Faithfull’s work showing at FRAC Basse-Normandie (5 December 2014-15 February 2015) and Musee des Beaux Arts,
Calais until June 2015.

About the Artist
Simon Faithfull’s practice has been described as an attempt to understand and explore the planet as a sculptural object – to test its limits and report back from its extremities. Within his work Faithfull often builds teams of scientists, technicians and transmission experts to help him bring back a personal vision from the ends of the world. He has been exhibited extensively around the world. Recent projects include a film featuring the artist walking through a burning jet plane (commissioned by Tatton Park Biennial), a video-work recording the artist walking across the bottom of the sea (created with the help of a scubadiving expert and underwater cameras). Other projects include a video-work recording the journey of a domestic chair as it is carried to the edge of space beneath a weather balloon (commissioned by Arts Catalyst), a drawing project sending back live digital-drawings from a two month journey to Antarctica (commissioned by Arts Council and the British Antarctic Survey) and an animated film developed from drawings made on a walk out of London along the A13 trunk-road (a Channel 4 TV commission with Arts Council England). Born in the UK Simon Faithfull studied at Central St Martins and then Reading
University. His practice takes a variety of forms – ranging from lens based media, to digital drawing, installation work and writing. Faithfull is also a lecturer at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London, and an External Examiner at Manchester Metropolitan University. He currently resides in London and Berlin.

About the project and its partners
REEF is a co-commission by Fabrica, Photoworks, Musee des Beaux Arts Calais and FRAC Basse-
Normandie (Caen) produced in collaboration with the artist Simon Faithfull (and his associate, producer Caroline Smith), and partners in Dorset, most notably Wreck to Reef (which involves several stakeholders), O’Three, and Quest Marine (all based on Portland in Dorset) and Weber Industries (London).

Fabrica is a visual arts organisation based in a former Regency church in the heart of Brighton. It has an
expertise in commissioning and presenting site-sensitive art and installations specific to the building. Fabrica supports and encourages the artists with whom it works to be adventurous and to test the boundaries of their practice. It encourages an open dialogue between artists and visitors within the gallery space and produces an integrated programme of education and audience development activity that strives to remove barriers to access, engagement and understanding. Fabrica is defined by its interlinking strands of activity; its exhibition, learning and audience development programmes, support for artists, a volunteer and work placement scheme, the development of an online presence and one-off projects.

Photoworks is an agency dedicated to enabling participation in photography, the most democratic medium of our contemporary visual culture. We do this by connecting outstanding artists with diverse audiences through an innovative range of projects, events and platforms. Collaboration is central to our work, making us an agile and responsive organisation, able to deliver projects at local, regional, national and international level. Photoworks’ activities include commissions, mentoring, publishing, a learning and participation programme and the Brighton Photo Biennial, the UK’s leading curated photography festival. Photoworks is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

The Musée des Beaux Arts de Calais has presented contemporary art for over 35 years. It was one of the first museums to exhibit the work of Joseph Beuys and Yayoi Kusama and has collections including 19th Century watercolours and work exploring the Calais region and its artists. Both the permanent and temporary exhibitions have strong connections to British art and a cross-border dimension is at the centre of the Museum’s programming policy. The Musée has an established expertise in gallery education, particularly with young people and local audiences. It initiates new ways of raising awareness of art through its participation and interpretation managers, and through adapting the audience development programme to the needs of different groups.

FRAC Basse-Normandie is one of a network of FRACs across France, The Fond Régional d’Art
Contemporain de Basse-Normandie continues to develop its collection of over 460 international artists, which it exhibits across the Basse-Normandie region and beyond, in line with its mission to circulate the work and its ideas. Alongside this activity it commissions and exhibits contemporary exhibitions, including off-site and touring works. It has a well-developed education programme, including an expertise in developing work with young people through making connections between schools, the FRAC collection and artists.

La Communauté d’Agglomeration du Calaisis
Calaisis District Council ‘s project the Jardin des Arts puts artists and cultural producers in direct contact with the residents of the Calais region. It facilitates a process of exchange and learning through establishing artist residencies, placing artists in local schools to engage with young people, educators and the wider community, whilst encouraging the development of their own practice and professional skills.

REEF is part of Time and Place, a collaborative project involving five cultural partners: Fabrica, Brighton,
and Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich, in the UK; Musée des Beaux-arts, Calais, FRAC Basse
Normandie, Caen and the District of Calaisis in France, selected in the framework of the Interreg IVA France (Channel) – England cross-border European cooperation programme, part-financed by the
ERDF. Running from autumn 2012 to 2015 Time and Place is enabling these organisations to work
together and produce an art and education programme on the themes of Changing Landscapes and
Aftermath (the heritage of war – art, conflict and death, migration and settlement).

To be notified of the launch of the Fabrica REEF project please sign up here: http://reef.launchrock.com/

Fabrica-REEF-Press Release 28-7-14

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Artifical reef has generated millions for the Cornish economy http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/artifical-reef-has-generated-millions-for-the-cornish-economy/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/artifical-reef-has-generated-millions-for-the-cornish-economy/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 11:08:44 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=748 Original article from The Cornish Guardian


A Navy Frigate sunk off the Cornish coast to create Europe’s first artificial diving reef has generated tens of millions of pounds for the local economy.

HMS Scylla, an ex-Royal Navy Leander Class frigate, was sent to the bottom of Whitsand Bay on March 27, 2004, in spectacular fashion – watched by thousands of spectators.

Since then, the wreck has enjoyed lasting success with thousands of dive trips generating an estimated £60 million over the last decade.

Dr David Gibson, managing director of Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium, which led the project, said: “It has created a completely new environment for the flora and fauna of Whitsand Bay.

“It is home to a community of animals and, from what I am told by divers, is providing a safe haven for tens of thousands of fish.

“From an economic perspective it has been a big success with an estimate 5,000-10,000 dives a year. That has had a significant economic impact on tourism including dive shops and boat operators.”

HMS Scylla, a former Royal Navy ship, marked the end of an era when it was the last warship to be built in Devonport in 1968. It saw plenty of active service during the Cold War, surviving a couple of collisions, including one with the Torpoint Ferry.

But she was decommissioned in 1993 and left to rot in a Portsmouth dockyard, until the plan was hatched to turn her into an artificial reef.

Thanks to funding from the South West Regional Development Agency, she was bought from the Ministry of Defence for £200,000 by Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium.

The purchase heralded a six-month operation to turn her from seaworthy vessel to undersea wildlife kingdom with experts making sure diving hazards, such as wires, were removed and confined spaces either blocked up or enlarged.

Once the work was complete, the vessel was towed out to sea and packed with explosives.

The surfaces of the reef were covered very quickly with marine plants and encrusting animals.

After one year, around 50 species had been identified on or around Scylla.

There were a number of ‘waves’ of colonisation – in autumn 2004 there was a large settlement of Queen Scallops. This was quickly followed by a ‘plague’ of starfish that consumed all the scallops then died out themselves.

The colonisation has stabilised since 2006 with a community that now looks very similar to the James Eagan Layne nearby.

Colonies of Pink Sea Fans Eunicella verricosa are beginning to establish in various locations around the reef.

Although the project was designed to provide an injection to the tourism economy, it is also being used as an education facility. Surveys show a wealth of marine life have taken an interest in the sunken vessel. Among those spotted were sea slugs, anemones, John Dory, scallops, ballan wrasse, squid, cod, cuttlefish, triggerfish and conger eels.

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Reef Monitoring Dives 2013 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/reef-monitoring-dives-2013/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/reef-monitoring-dives-2013/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:20:27 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=726 Reef Monitoring Dives (Summer 2013) – NOC Scientific Diving Team

University of Southampton

Please click the pictures below to view the slides…

Slide01 Slide02 Slide03 Slide04 Slide05 Slide06 Slide07 Slide08 Slide09 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13 Slide14 Slide15 Slide16 Slide17 ]]>
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ITV News coverage.. http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/itv-news-coverage/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/itv-news-coverage/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 12:40:58 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=722 Here is a list of the video footage ITV in the UK has kindly taken:


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Lobster Release Day http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/lobster-release-day/ http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/lobster-release-day/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 12:37:17 +0000 http://www.wrecktoreef.co.uk/?p=714 _DSC2259a-small6am:
Collection of berried lobsters.

These adult female berried lobsters had been caught earlier in the week (outside of the six mile zone) and were being stored and looked after by our local Fish Whole Seller, S and W Ltd.  A big thank you to Richard Long for organising this.

These heavily pregnant ladies were well looked after and were to have a staring roll throughout the day.  They were photographed by several national and local newspapers.  It is hoped that these images would help explain to those of us who are less familiar with the world of lobsters, just what a precarious start to life they have and also to highlight what an incredible job the National Lobster Hatchery at Padstow does.

With a colder and breezier Northerly wind than was forecast and the sun still yet to rise, Laurence Herdman from BBC Dorset cracked the ice off his satellite dish and carried out a live interview with Sean Webb, one of the founders of W2R down at the Dean and Reddyhoff Portland Marina.  As with all interviews, especially when they are live, you are at the mercy of the person with the microphone.  Laurence did us proud and allowed Sean the time to give the listeners a feel of what the day actually entailed.

Dominic Boothroyde and Jacky  from the National Lobster Hatchery were already two hours into their journey with that precious cargo of 1000 baby lobsters.  These little critters  have been looked after and donated to W2R by the guys at the National Lobster Hatchery free of charge.

IMG_5012Smudge and Sarah of Scimitar Diving, despite having a course that day, opened up the doors of their shop and made everyone feel welcome.  They even fired up the BBQ and Oona Spencer did a great job feeding us all with bacon maps, while Daisy Darler kept the coffee and tea cups full.  Later in the day, Oona switched her culinary skills to that of boat crew and safety officer.  As Stewart Lambert said…, is there no end to this women’s talents.

Not sure if it was the smell of the bacon, or the fact that the warmth of the sun was beginning to tame the chill of the breeze, but it really had all the ingredients of becoming one of those days that we would all remember.

_DSC2286a-smallBaby Lobsters arrive…, all present and correct.  Smiles all round.  They were carefully loaded onto our dive boat for the day, Cutlass where under the guidance of Dominic, they were acclimatised to the local water temperature by  applying the deck wash until we were ready to leave.

Down on the Pontoons, the guys and girls from Southern IFCA had arrived in their new purpose built RIB.  It was Ian Carrier, the then Southern Seas Fisheries Officer, who suggested that we look into setting some of the Wreck to Reef site aside as a lobsters reef.  That advice was invaluable, as it led to European funding that has allowed us to get the project thus far.

With Kelsey Jane the Weymouth based boat, skippered by Bob Hope and his work in-progress apprentice, number one son, Bob Hope Jnr coming alongside, we knew it would not be long before everything was in place.

Kelsey Jane, kindly supplied free of charge, would be a safe and stable platform for the press.

By this time, all but one of the ten volunteer divers had assembled their gear on Cutlass.

Stuart Lambert, from Surrey dive club Dive 360 smiled and bounced his way down the pontoon, making our dive team complete.

_MG_522912:30 / 1:30pm
With briefings from Dominic on how best to release the lobsters from their temporary enclosures once we had delivered them to the artificial reef and Dave Sellars our skipper reminding us of safety and procedures whilst on board, we were ready for ropes off.  By 12:45 we were heading towards the Northern entrance of Portland Harbour and the Northerly breeze that appeared to be easing had increased in strength and felt colder again.  If it continued, an already difficult task would be made all the more testing for all concerned.

The Sea Police, Southern IFCA, shot ahead in their new purpose built RIB to make sure that the marks that were laid by Marcus Darler and Sean Webb (O’Three Ltd) two days before had not moved.  They radioed Dave, skipper of Cutlass, to say all was well.

As we approached the site, the protection of the Jurassic coast played its part in sheltering us from that cold Northerly breeze and the warmth of the sun was felt again.  Everything was coming together.

Local fisherman and Fisheries Liaison Officer Bob Summerhaize was also in position having steamed out from Weymouth Harbour earlier.  Bob has been instrumental in keeping the local fishing community accurately informed of the project’s progress, which has meant Wreck to Reef continues to have their full support.

The job of co-ordinating the four boats fell to Bob Hope on Kelsey Jane and thanks to his calm stewardship the press were able to get close enough to obtain the top side images they needed, whilst keeping divers Sarah Payne (Scimitar Diving) and Cathy Taylor (Skin Deeper, the Bunk House and daughter of dive boat pioneer and legend Andy Smith) were safe at all times.

_DSC7173a-smallSarah and Cathy were thrilled to bits to be the first divers to release their lobsters and were accompanied and filmed by well-known and respected diving journalist and photographer Stuart Philpot.
Stuart has given his time and allowed Wreck to Reef to use his images for free.

At exactly 2pm (slack water), Dave was given the go ahead and manoeuvred Cutlass back into position where he was able to drop the remaining paired divers into the water.  It’s not easy jumping off the back of a boat in full diving kit, whilst trying to keep hold of several hundred lobsters with as little disturbance to them as possible.  Everyone did a great job without a single weight belt or fin being forgotten.

A line had been laid between two surface marker buoys and each pair of divers had been instructed to swim along this line until “their” mark came into sight.  Each mark was approximately 10 mtrs apart.
It was at these positions the lobsters were gently released from their honeycombed cages.  Dominic Boothroyde had asked us all to observe how the baby lobsters behaved when released.  He told us what should happen.  It was very reassuring that the vast majority instinctively headed for the nooks and crannies that the artificial reef had created.  Those babies that took a little more time to adjust were being protected by the sheer presence of the other divers in the water.  Everyone was very confident that we did not lose a single one to a hungry fish.

With only Sean Webb and Stuart Lambert left in the water, it was their job to wind in the marking line and remove the shots from the reef.  By 2:40 everyone was safely back on board Cutlass with a hot drink and heading for home.  No longer sheltered from the Jurassic cliffs overlooking Weymouth Bay the atmosphere, smiles and general banter kept us all warm on that short trip back into Portland.

In the grand scheme of things, a thousand baby lobsters released is a drop in the ocean.  However, if Wreck to Reef is successful in its next phase of negotiations, hundreds of thousands will be released onto this reef in the next four to six years.  Add to this the work that the National Lobster Hatchery is undertaking with other groups and we really will begin to see lobster numbers increase.

As Neville Copperthwaite so rightly said

this is practical conservation.  We are putting something back, which in time will redress the balance.

A massive thank you to the divers, ladies first.
Oona Spencer –         Talents abound.
Charlotte Bolton –      Enthusiasm by the bucket load.
Sarah Payne –           Scimitar Diving and now Wreck to Reefs (Neville’s) unpaid but much appreciated secretary.
Cathy Taylor –           You stopped smiling yet Cathy.

Stuart Philpot –          Underwater images and patience of a saint.
Ivor Bending –           72 and still going strong.
Richard Ferry –          Just got his bus pass and thanks to Craig, diving in British waters again.
Craig Clark –              You should have been at work, good job you’re the boss.
Stuart Lambert –        Unofficial underwater lighting technician, or is it light sabre technician.
Sean Webb –             Assistant to Mr Lambert.
Marcus Darler –         Go-Pro expert.

The Boats:
Kelsey Jane – Skippered and supplied free of charge for two days by Bob Hope Snr and Bob Hope Jnr.
Cutlass – Skippered by Dave Sellars and supplied free of charge on numerous occasions by Scimitar diving, saving Wreck to Reef a small fortune.  Big thanks to Smudge and Sarah.

Topside Photography:
Penny Piddock – Thank you Penny…, you have done us proud over the years.
Daisy Darler – You were a great help all day Daisy.

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