A few weeks ago some Israeli divers chanced upon nearly 2,000 gold coins that had been underwater in the Mediterranean for a millennia. This was the largest hoard of gold coins ever discovered in Israel and theories abound. Scientists have posited that perhaps it's the remnants of a shipwreck carrying tax money to the central government in Egypt. Or perhaps the coins were meant to pay military garrison salaries in Caesarea.
Before you start diving shipwrecks looking for buried treasure, take the PADI Wreck Specialty Course. It teaches divers how to safely dive wrecks, which are usually located in deep water. It also teaches divers how to research the history of a wreck and determine the legality of salvaging, so you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law.
After that, there are opportunities to search for sunken treasure like diving the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha in Florida. For $2,500 you get to dive alongside professional underwater treasure hunters and try your hand at finding your very own cache of precious, antique gold coins.
Come join us on May 2 and 3, 2015 for our next Wreck Weekend in San Diego where you can earn your Wreck Specialty certification diving the 366 foot Canadian Destroyer “Yukon.” This could be your first step in being an underwater Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.
Email email@example.com for more details or call 310-398-5759 to sign up.
California’s coastline used to be home to some of the richest waters in the world, but since the 1960’s we have lost over 90% of our big game and over 75% of our kelp forests.
Because the decimation of any one species can cause irreparable harm to the entire ecosystem, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designed to protect all plants and animals in the entire ecosystem in the park.
Depending on the type of MPA, some taking of game is still allowed, for example in State Marine Parks, sport fishing is allowed, but not commercial fishing. In State Marine Reserves, any type of fishing is illegal and violators are subject to severe penalties.
In 1997 a group of scientists embarked on a two year project to see if fishes were responding well to the creation of MPAs. They surveyed three no-take zones on Catalina Island and two off the mainland coast, and found that not only were the fishes more abundant in the reserve, but the largest size individuals were also found within the confines of the no-take zones. Their findings suggest that the protected areas are providing a safe haven for fish to reach maturity, translating into higher reproductive output.
In 2012, another study was conducted in the Channel Islands, where MPAs have been in place for over a decade. The results showed that lobsters were more abundant and larger in protected areas, with over five more legal-sized lobsters caught per trap on average inside the refuges. Both recreational and commercial fishing in parts of the islands actually increased from 2003 to 2008.
As the MPA program matures, more data becomes available to prove that conservation has a positive impact on the ecosystem. As scuba divers, let’s respect the MPAs and enjoy all the kelp, fishes and big game that are returning to our waters.
Conditions were UNREAL at Casino Point in Catalina on last Sunday. 50 ft. viz, 73 degree water and great sunny weather. Casino Point in Catalina Island is a well-known MPA (marine protected area) and the fish were out in force. I think they know they are safe J. Tons of large sheephead, blacksmith, and the biggest kelp bass I have ever seen. On dive 1 we descended down and then followed the slope into the clearing and then around past the Jacques Cousteau monument. Pro tip: As the kelp thins out to the large clearing at about 45-65 feet, hover motionless about 10-15 feet off the bottom and look down. The clearing is like a freeway for bat rays.
On dive 2 we kept it shallow because this is the time of year that the juvenile garibaldis are in abundance. They are the tiny orange fish (1-2”) with iridescent blue spots. Look under rocks and ledges and you will find them. But be careful for large garibaldis are known as territorial of the damsel fish, even coming after divers when you get too close. Pro tip: put some frozen peas in your pocket and they will come right up to you to investigate the smell and you can nail a killer photo. Don’t feed them though. While the garibaldis might be virtually harmless, the kelp bass and the sheephead pack a good set of teeth and will not differentiate a pea from the tip of your finger. Next week I will be diving on the Magician dive boat in search of some giant black sea bass. It seems that everyone has been spotting them but me. Till next time this is Jason your local divemaster signing off from Eco Dive Center.