Dive News: Salvaging the Costa Concordia Shipwreck
[VIDEO] and full story by: CBS News
Shipwreck: Costa Concordia
Eleven months ago, the Italian luxury liner ‘Costa Concordia’ hit a huge boulder whilst sailing the shores of Giglio Island. The effect: the most expensive and daunting salvage operation and potential environmental catastrophe.
It is twice the size of the Titanic andÂ the largest passenger ship ever wrecked.
The Plan? (Which we might add has never been done before)
American wreck removal company Titan Salvage and Italian engineering firm Micoperi have teamed up to roll the 60,000-ton ship onto an underwater platform, raise it, then float it away to be scrapped.
111 Divers | 8 Countries
Much of the work is done by specially trained salvage divers who work round the clock in a race against time (and the weather) to get this ship off the marine preserve.
111 divers from around the world have come to do their part in salvaging the ship with as little damage as possible to the environment.
Geared up with communication equipment, air, back-up air, a camera and a light, they’re lowered 40 feet into the ocean in a cage. Although they’re working non-stop, each diver can only be submerged for 45 minutes at a time. They then have 5 minutes to come up, strip off their gear and step into a decompression chamber.
The salvage divers live in close quarters on floating barracks right next to the wreck and have even formed a camaraderie despite their language barriers.
It’s a pretty sweet but dangerous job. We must admit we’re a little jealous. A trip to the shores of Italy with other divers from around the world AND save the environment? Where do we sign up?!
This summer our very good friend Max Gilbert set sail to visit Nassau, Bahamas on business which we consider pleasure as well! His job? Lead a group of divers for his dive shop Southeastern Divers located in Huntsville, Alabama. Pretty sweet job, right?
From July 26 – 31 Max and his group stayed at Orange Hill Beach Inn, which he recalls is not your typical resort because it’s geared mostly towards divers (sounds like our kinda place).
For the next four out of five days Max and his group were taken to different sites around Nassau to enjoy some great dives. This was his second or third time leading a group, which consisted of first time divers and experienced technical divers. He loves making sure everyone is having a great time BUT tells us that it’s very different from diving for fun with a couple of buddies.
You’re pretty much responsible for everyone and you want to make sure everyone is having a good time and diving safely, he explains.
Other than that it’s just good old diving fun PLUS the Stuart Cove dive operation picked everyone up from the hotel each morning and took everyone to great spots like:
Port Nelson wrecka small cutter coming in at about 110 long and sitting upright on the bottom at about 75 feet. Her engine hatches are missing but her deck gun still stands ready. Max wiggled his way through the wreck and took a few snapshots inside.
Treasure Cove is a sunken barge, The Bahama Mama (you can thank Mother Nature for sinking this one). Her bow section is badly twisted, but her stern section has a nice covered walkway that made it an easy swim. The best part about this dive? The SHARKS!
We probably saw seven or eight because the site we were diving is where Stuart Cove does some of their feeding dives, so the sharks like to check out the dive boats to see if it’s chow time, Max recalled.
Mikes Reef was the final dive on the roster for the first day. The group enjoyed lots of great corals, but the main attraction was a monster of a sea turtle. And after watching it feed on the corals for a good 10 minutes, the group swam back to their anchor line.
Mikes is also where Stuart Cove performs their shark feeds, but we will get to that in a bit.
Will Laurie wreck Wreck is an old mail boat that freighter that was sunk for divers. There is a cage built on her decks amidships for soft corals to grow on and that growth is coming along great. (According to Max, but we want to see for ourselves!)
Razorback is a huge coral mountain that sticks up out of a sandy flat like a razor. Max and his partner spotted a nice scorpion fish, lion fish, barracuda and a ray.
The dive master led the group to corals, marine life, and even shark feeding dive, which Max recalls everyone on the boat was tickled to have such a close encounter.
The sharks they encountered were Blacktip Reef sharks and were easily about twice the size of everyone there. I had done a shark dive before in Honduras and the sharks were maybe about 10 feet away, but on this dive the dive master who was doing the feeding came at arms reach to the sharks, he tells us.
Talk about up close and personal we are excited to try this one soon! Another line on the bucket list perhaps?
As we mentioned earlier Max and his group stayed at the Orange Hill Beach Inn in Nassau and they loved it.
It was Max’s first time in Nassau, Bahamas and he recalls everyone being extremely friendly and hospitable at Orange Hill.
What do Max and his group remember most from the resort besides their hospitality?
They have a little bar in the resort which was the focus of most of our evenings whether you drink or not! We just had a blast, he shared.
Max went on to telling us that he didn’t really do much topside because after a long day of diving everyone pretty much has this mentality:
shower. drinks. eat. sleep. dive. repeat.
It’s the best kind of pleasant tired feeling you could ever have, he told us. And we couldn’t agree more.
Max would love to go back again. But at the moment he plans on leading another group to Honduras and Bonaire.
Favorite Sea Legends: The Kraken, Mermaids, and Sirens
It’s no secret we love all things ocean and sea legends just come with the territory. This week we are rounding up a few of our favorites: the Kraken, Sirens, and Mermaids. You may have heard of some of these legendary creatures thanks to Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. If you have kids you can thank SpongeBob SquarePants and Disney for the introduction.
Until we come face-to-face with these creatures, the tales will just have to do although we’re not sure how close we would want to get.
As early as the 13th century sailors have been telling tales of two massive sea creatures one of which was the Kraken. Rumors pointed to sightings off the shores of Norway and Iceland; the Kraken was described in many different ways depending on the era.
The Kraken is incontestably the largest Sea monster in the world with a width of one and a half miles. It was also noted to have had starfish type protuberances: it’s arms would be able to get a hold of the largest man-of-war and pull it down to the bottom.”
Tall tales of the Kraken grabbing hold of ships with its tentacles and engulfing them from the bottom all the way to its main mast still circulate the seas. Its grip would bring down the ship and its sailors with it and they would be taken by the sea. Kind of like the final scene with Jack Sparrow where the Kraken takes down the Black Pearl.
Cool, huh? But we want nothing to do with it!
Sirens and Mermaids
Beautiful, mysterious, and at times, down right dangerous. Tails (see what we did there) of Sirens and Mermaids have been told by sailors and travelers for centuries; in fact in some languages they are both the same creature.
Sirens in Greek mythology were sea nymphs who lived on an island called Sirenum scopuli, but there are different locations depending on the tradition in which the tale is told. These beautiful naiads would enchant sailors and travelers with their siren song and cause them to sail their ships into cliffs and drown.
There were some cases of men thwarting their siren song.
The first were the Argonauts who had Orpheus play a tune louder than the Sirens.
The second was Odysseus’ men who plugged their ears with beeswax. Odysseus alone volunteered to hear the song while tied to the ship’s mast.
This second escape caused the Sirens to kill themselves out of shame. It was then said that Sirens were destined to die should someone hear their song and escape unscathed.
Mermaids, on the other hand, come from mer which means sea and maid(en) which is a legendary creature human from the torso up and fish-like down.
The earliest Mermaid story comes from Assyria around 1000 BCE. Atargatis, an Assyrian priestess, jumped into the sea to wash away her shame of an unwanted pregnancy and emerged as a fishtailed goddess.
Seamen often spotted mermaids during the middle ages. Christopher Columbus among them saw three Mermaids on his first voyage to the Americas in 1493.
Mermaids figured prominently in sailors’ lore, because of such travellers’ tales.
The most common story was that Mermaids were incredibly skilled at seducing lonely sailors and dragging them down to their underwater kingdom. It was also believed that they could cause storms and shipwrecks.
We are all familiar with Disney’s beloved The Little Mermaid, but did you know how the tale originally came about? In the very first version of the story by Hans Christian Andersen, the mermaid sees her Prince marry a princess and she despairs. She is offered a knife to kill the prince with, but instead she jumps into the sea and dies by turning to froth. Hans Christian Andersen modified the ending slightly to make it more pleasant. In his new ending, instead of dying when turned to froth, she becomes a daughter of the air waiting to go to heaven.