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September 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Eritrea, Kiribati, Sipadan . . .

why to consider Wananavu, when not to consider the Odyssey

from the September, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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M/Y Suzanna. This liveaboard plies the southern Red Sea, and Mel Cundiff (Broomfield, CO) took a trip in May, hoping the southernmost reefs near Eritrea would have greater biological diversity, as he had heard. He reports that the 10-cabin boat has lots of common space, but a malfunctioning generator meant cabin A/C was shut down during daytime hours except in the common areas. "The boat catered to European clients, with only three dives a day. It was only with insistence that we managed two night dives. Our two divemasters could remember Americans being on the boat only one other time. Our typical dives were in pursuit of deep-water sharks, with European divers going down to 250 feet to photograph them. Our first dive briefing dealt with how to communicate to the divemasters the depth ceilings and decompression times we had accumulated. Everyone went into deco, with the Italians doing so multiple times a day. It was common for dive computers to be locked out during the over-limit violations. By naively following the divemaster, I too went into deco and needed the larger tank to maintain the one-hour dive time. One of the Italians who violated his computer limits had visible and physiological symptoms of decompression sickness. He was administered oxygen for three hours and most of his symptoms subsided . . . Our two Zodiacs didn't have ladders, and some divers found it uncomfortable to be pulled onto the boat after a dive. The stern part of the lower dive deck on the Suzanna was high off the water, and a diver carrying a 90-cubic-foot steel tank needed to take one step down a ladder, step onto the gunnel of the Zodiac and then take a long step onto the floor. Three divers with their tanks on fell into the Zodiacs; fortunately, they were not hurt. Our itinerary took us 200 miles south of Port Sudan, near the border of Eritrea. These southern exploratory dives were a trade-off from the reefs of central and northern Sudan. I dived the 18 dives available, with several being repeat sites. Being interested in, and teaching about, the diversity of reef critters, I rely on a divemaster's younger, experienced eyes to help me locate critters. On this boat, with the emphasis on sharks, this didn't happen. By resisting the deeper dives and hugging the reefs, I still managed to see five species of sharks, but they weren't up close. A titan trigger bit my fins four times, and not being satisfied with the results as I kicked her away, she blindsided me with a bite to my left elbow, drawing blood and leaving a scar. My buddies were amused and disappointed they didn't get it on video! In my less-thanexpert opinion, I feel the coral reef diversity of the southern Sudan was no greater than of the northern Red Sea." ( )...

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