On-board Diary: August 20, 2008

Author: Thierry Lannoy
Date: August 20, 2008



We arrived at the Bari coast, at the port of Brindisi on August 15. In most European countries, this date is reserved for spending a few days at the beach and enjoying its charm... All of us are attracted by the sea for several reasons: because the deep blue sea is calling us, it both pleases and attracts us. Even though its resources may seem inexhaustible to us because they are invisible to most of our eyes - and even for those who work in the sea - this does not reflect the reality. It is tragic, crude and cruel.

The world's seas and oceans are dying, and the Mediterranean Sea is a sad example of this tragedy. Here, all the players in this large scale disaster are present: pollution, overexploitation, competition, ignorance, etc. Human beings, in spite of participating in this massacre, continue to flock to beaches and the seashore when they go on vacation because deep down they love the sea. They love it. What a paradoxical relationship!

The Southern coast of Italy is no exception. On the contrary. When we reached Brindisi, we got in touch with the Aquademia Dive Center at the Brindisi Marina. We met the founder and owner of this center, Stefano Maghelli (www.aquademiaweb.it), a passionate and unconditional defender of the sea.

Stefano Maghelli was a very valuable source of information for preparing our dives in the area of Brindisi. He told me an anecdote that attracted my attention: Not too long ago, people tended to ask him why he went scuba diving underwater if he wasn't going to catch fish….We are at this level of ignorance, even in supposedly “developed" countries.

The dives were a pleasant surprise. In spite of the not very favorable conditions (wind and low visibility), we had the chance to discover some reefs in good condition with many orange sponges. These reefs harbor fish that are common to the Mediterranean, painted comber (Serranus scriba), Damselfish (Chromis chromis), blennies (Parablennius), etc; and a sizeable amount of dotted sea slugs (Discodoris atromaculata) and flabellina (Flabellina affinis). The dotted sea slugs seem to particularly appreciate the Petrosia ficiformis, hiding places. Entire families of sea slugs inhabited them.

During the first dive, we experienced drastic temperature changes in the water. We went from 27 degrees C at the surface to 15 degrees C at the bottom. However, the effort was worth it because at a depth of 30 meters we discovered two anchors that belonged to two 16th century Spanish galleons.

As the second dive of the day, we went diving in shallow waters so that the photographers could take advantage of the light that penetrates the water and also to be able to spend more time under water without decompression time. On the 18th, during the second dive at Punta del Serrone, we found a lobster trapped in a piece of net that had gotten hooked on a rock at a depth of about ten meters... In the Mediterranean, it is sadly common to find fishing gear drifting in the water or trapped at the bottom. Unfortunately, this fishing gear continues to damage and kill for indefinite periods of time. This lobster was lucky and it was able to swim freely when Loli Villarejo, the new diving team member freed it.

The task of saving the seas and oceans is an arduous one. However, some details help us to stay optimistic, and team member Stefano's efforts in educating are an example to demonstrate that with information and education, humans' mentalities and actions can be changed... Basically, we have to defend what we want, and in this case, it is the sea that we love and must protect.

Soon, with more notes from the deep blue sea…