News Archive 2004

Coastguard Scuppers Ebay Pirate

The Receiver of Wreck, together with the Mary Rose Trust, issued a warning today to those tempted to purchase objects on the internet auction house eBay, or elsewhere, that are listed as having come from the wreck of the Mary Rose.

The Trust states that such items are highly unlikely to have come from the Mary Rose, and if they are, they will have been acquired illegally. Anyone who sees such an item is advised to contact the Trust to ascertain provenance.

The warning has come as a result of a recent attempt by an individual to sell a cannon ball on eBay for over £5,000 claiming that it had come from the Mary Rose. The Mary Rose Trust were alerted to the sale by one of the divers who had worked on the excavation and knew that the Trust has a policy that all artefacts from the excavation are kept in the Mary Rose collection with many of them on display at the museum in Portsmouth. The Mary Rose is one of 55 sites in the UK that are designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

The Mary Rose Trust believed that the items must either be from another source, or have been acquired illegally, and passed the matter on to the Receiver of Wreck who has powers to seize illegally held wreck material and to investigate such matters under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

The Receiver of Wreck worked in conjunction with eBay, and with Hampshire Police Marine Unit, who confiscated 14 cannonballs from the premises of the vendor. These were later inspected by Curator of Ordnance at the Mary Rose Trust, Alexzandra Hildred, who confirmed that they had none of the features found on shot from the Mary Rose. Enquiries into the origins of the shot are still being conducted by the Police Marine Unit and it is believed they are 18th or 19th century in date and were recovered on the shores of the River Hamble.

The Receiver of Wreck, Sophia Exelby said: “This joint operation shows that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is willing and able to act on credible information received in relation to offences regarding illegally held wreck material. Although these cannonballs did not ultimately come from the Mary Rose, the principles of investigation and enforcement are the same and will be applied to any other such cases which arise.”

John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust said: “We are delighted that the Receiver of Wreck took swift action to investigate the claim that this iron shot was from the Mary Rose. There should not be any artefacts from the Mary Rose in private hands apart from a few curios made from Mary Rose timber recovered in the 1830s and we would always like to be alerted to any fraudulent or illegal sales.

“We are relieved that the shot turned out to be nothing to do with the Mary Rose, but are not pleased that the vendor tried to pass them off as genuine and even used a photograph taken without authority from our website.”

Posted 21/12/04

Diving Medical Requirements for 2005

Inline with other diving agencies a proposal has been put forward regarding diving medicals. The proposal is that SSAC take up a yearly (self certificated) medical for every diving member of the club. The proposal was made to was put to the General Committee (GC) and approved at a joint meeting of the National Diving Committee (NDC) and the GC on 24th November, 2004.

This means that from the 1st January 2005 each diving member of SSAC is required to submit a yearly self-certificate medical along with your renewal form.

Medical forms can be downloaded here, obtained from your branch or by telephoning HQ on 0141-425-1021.

Safe and happy diving

Kevin J Webb, NDO

Posted 19/12/04

NAS Scotland Open Days

The Nautical Archaeology Society, Scotland will be holding four open days in 2005. The days will allow NAS members and the public to view a collection of finds from wrecks in Scottish waters. The National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh will host the open days on March 5th - 6th and again on March 12th - 13th, 2005.

Posted 08/11/04

Deep Rescue Endorsement

Why do we need a deep rescue course?
The training schedule states that the assessment for Sport Diver includes a rescue from 10m but when a Sport Diver qualifies they can dive to 30m. Similarly the Master diver assessment requires a rescue from 15m but when qualified Master Divers can dive to 40m.

The Deep Rescue course will teach divers to lift an unconscious diver to the surface safely with a buoyant lift.
The pre requisites for this course are

1) Hold current membership of Scottish Sub Aqua Club (SSAC)
2) Hold current medical certificate
3) Have been a member of SSAC for 2 years
4) Hold the 20/30m ascents for Master Diver assessment
5) Hold the dry suit endorsement unless diving in semi dry suit
6) 5 dives between 25/35m must be completed before course (A Master Diver Branch Instructor must accompany Sport Divers for no 6)

Billy Symington deep rescue co-ordinator
You can contact me through SSAC HQ

Posted 08/11/04

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004

An underwater photographer has claimed the top prize in this years Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award. Doug Perrine, who is well knon for his photographs of sharks, scooped the prestigious prize with his beautiful picture of two Bronze Whaler sharks charging a bait ball during the sardine run. Doug Perrine describes taking the photograph;

"During the annual sardine run, vast shoals of sardines migrate up the east coast of South Africa. A kilometre off Transkei’s Wild Coast, a pod of common dolphins herded sardines to the surface in a ‘baitball’. Other predators soon rushed in, including bottlenose dolphins, tuna, Cape gannets and thousands of sharks. The sharks would charge through the baitball, bursting through the other side or shooting clear out of the water, their mouths stuffed full of fish. So intent were they on feeding that they often bumped me as they rushed past. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life."

Charles Hood, one of the UK's best known underwater photographers, was highly commended in the Underwater World section for his head on picture of a hammerhead shark. Another UK photographer, Pete Atkinson, won the Innovation Award with his picture of a grey reef shark. Other marine life photos were commended or highly commended in several sections of the competition. To see the photos online visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005 website

Following the award ceremony on Saturday 23rd of October pictures from the competition will go on show in a travelling exhibition. The exhibition will visit the following venues in Scotland and the north of England;

Posted 22/10/04

Overview of SSAC National Courses

The Scottish Sub Aqua Club (SSAC) run many national courses, courses that are brought together by SSAC members, for SSAC members.

The concept for a course can have many catalysts to start the ball rolling. Although we all have our own day jobs, so to speak, it never ceases to amaze me the time, effort and enthusiasm that members put into not only the course content but also the running of a course, as you can appreciate we also like to dive as well.

So what courses do we run at present ? Well the obvious ones are:

    • Sport Diver
    • Master Diver
    • First Class Diver

These first three are our diver grades that can be run as weekend courses.

    • Branch Instructor
    • Regional Instructor
    • Examiner

These second three are our Instructor grades.

    • Nitrox
    • Oxygen Administration and Heart Start
    • First Aid

These three are safety orientated.

There are other courses we have all been talking about, one that has been a bone of contention for some of you, yes you all know the one I mean, the Deep Diving Course. You will be pleased to know that after a lot of hard work put in by many members it is now imminent.

We have also put into place a number of course management changes. The main one will be that we will now have Course Directors. They will be in overall charge of their designated course, and Course Co-ordinators who will work under the watchful eye of the Course Directors for each course.

Course Directors will produce a statement of progress for each course, and each course will undoubtedly evolve both due to diving practises and new equipment being brought out.

There are also a number of new courses that we are looking at. Again the Course Directors will issue a statement detailing the course content and time frame for running new courses.

Training Weekends
Unfortunately there will be no training weekends running this year, but we are looking at running these again in the New Year. The emphasis will be on training at open water and Master Diver levels, with assessments at Branch Instructor, Regional Instructor and Examiner levels. More details will be forwarded to your Diving Officer and Regional Coach.

We firmly believe that the courses we in the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club strive to create, to maintain and to deliver are second to none. We also believe that all the courses can, and will be taken to the membership, in short all regions of the country will have access to all of our training.

As you can see a lot goes on behind the scenes. We as a club need to keep moving forward, but we need to move forward safely. That is why it takes time to bring new courses out to you the membership.

Safe and Happy Diving,

Kevin Webb, National Diving Officer and the National Dving Committee

Deep Diving Course

At the last National Diving Committee (NDC) meeting it was decided to appoint a Course Director who in turn would appoint Course Co-ordinators to be able to run the courses and to finalise the Deep Diving Award with regard to safety issues, practicalities of teaching this award at the open water stage and the core of instructors to carry this forward.

The course may appear to have been a long time in the making but as with all other SSAC issues, the safety of the members is paramount in determining when a course is ready to be offered for deployment.

The Deep Diving Course will be available to members who hold the necessary pre-requisites; details of these pre-requisites and course dates will be announced in the near future.

A few key members have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to help bring this course forward and I would like to thank them at this point.

More hard work is still needed to finalise and run these courses and I would like to invite any Regional Instructors who wish to help to contact myself through SSAC HQ.

Graeme Forsyth, Deep Diving Director

Posted 12/10/04

Support Arran's "No Take Zone"

The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) is a representative local organisation whose members are principally based on the Island of Arran. The Organisation has 400 members and is a voice for a large number of the residents of the Isle of Arran.

COAST is currently concerned with the establishment of an area to be a ‘no-take zone’ and also a total restriction of mobile fishing gear within the whole of Lamlash Bay, a copy of the proposed plan for Lamlash Bay is available on the Arran COAST website.

Please support the Arran COAST petition requesting that the Scottish Parliament supports COAST’s proposals to close an area of Lamlash Bay to all forms of marine life extraction (No Take Zone) and the rest of the Bay to mobile fishing gear (Marine Protected Area). COAST believes that this trial will enable marine life, including whitefish, flatfish and scallops to regenerate, ultimately benefiting the local marine environment, local economy and, through spillover of species from the "no-take zone", the Clyde fishermen.

You can sign the petition online at the Scottish Parliament Website until December 10th, 2004.

COAST have broad support for the proposals from not only the community of Arran but also many visitors. The project has the support of the locally based commercial fishermen and COAST have consulted with the representatives of the mobile and static fishing communities that use Lamlash Bay. COAST therefore consider themselves to be one of the principle stakeholders representing the users of Lamlash Bay.

Posted 03/11/04

One, Two, Three . . . Bungee!

As you stand on the edge and contemplate the reasons why you agreed to such an act of courage...these are the words you will hear. Before you know it you'll be diving through the air before bouncing on your bungee. . . . The rush will be immense, the pride in yourself afterwards tremendous. Your mates will be envious. By pledging to raise at least £100 for the RNLI you can get the ultimate adReNaLIne EXPERIENCE completely FREE!

A fundraising bungee jump has been organised at the Lifeboat Station, North Kessock, by Inverness on November 13th - so why not banish the autumn blues and do something to support SSAC's favourite charity. You can sign up online and get your very own online sponsorship page - no scrappy bits of paper and no running around because your sponsors can pay up online, it couldn't be easier!

Find out more at the RNLI Events website.

Posted 30/10/04

Wildlife Witness

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) are celebrating their 40th anniversary by running a series of talks by well known conservationists, wildlife photographers and artists. The talks will be held around the country between October 27th and December 1st, 2004.

Colin Speedie will kick off the events by giving a talk on "Scotland's Stunning Sealife" at the Corran Halls, Oban on October 27th, and again at the Teacher Building in Glasgow on October 28th. Colin's talk is the only one in the series looking specifically at marine life but there are heaps of other interesting subjects to chose from, for example Professor David Bellamy will be visiting the Dundee Science Centre (25th Nov) to speak on the "Natural History of Malt Whisky" and the well known wildlife photographer Andy Rouse will be in Cumbernauld (2nd Nov) and Aberdeen (3rd Nov) to give a talk on "Wildlife through the lens: From elephants to eagles".

Tickets cost £7.50, or £5 to members of SWT, and are available from the Wildlife Witness hotline on 0131 312 7765. Visit the Scottish Wildlife Trust website for a full programme of events

Posted 21/10/04

Nautical Archaeology Society Conference 2004

The Nautical Achaeology Society Annual Conference for 2004 will take place in Portsmouth on Saturday, November 13th. The NAS Conference provides an annual update on the archaeological activities of members and non-members, and aims to appeal on both a national and international level. The 2004 conference will include the presentation of the 2nd annual Adopt a Wreck award.

In addition to the 'Adopt a Wreck' award there will be 10 speakers, confirmed speakers include;

  • Innes McCartney - Researching the wrecks of Jutland
  • Fred Hocker - Vasa: current research
  • Phil Robertson - 10 years of SOMAP (Sound of Mull Archaeology Project)
  • Mark Beattie-Edwards - WreckMap Portland 2004
  • Amanda Bowens - Stourhead 2004: underwater archaeology in an 18th century landscaped garden

Further speakers to be announced shortly. Visit the NAS website for more details and booking information.

Posted 14/08/04

Ullapool SAC's Birthday Bash

There has been a diving club in Ullapool since 1988 but Ullapool SAC, in its current form, is just about to celebrate it's 10th birthday. Some of the founding members still occassionally dip their fins in the water, but we haven't been able to get hold of everyone. We are having a ceilidh come early Christmas party to celebrate the anniversary, and like all 10th birthday parties there will be plenty of drink and possibly a bit of jelly & ice cream too!

The party is open to all former members and partners, so if you haven't already had an invite please get in touch with Briony Hume on 01854 612 822 or email her via the USAC website - otherwise we'll see you in the Seaforth on 6th November at 7.30pm.

Posted 30/10/04

Seasearch Co-ordinators Wanted
Local Seasearch Co-ordinators - Part Time

Seasearch is a volunteer underwater survey project for recreational divers to record observations of marine habitats and the life they support. The information gathered is used to increase our knowledge of the marine environment and contribute towards its conservation. As a result of funding from all of the Statutory Conservation Agencies and the Heritage Lottery Fund we are seeking a number of local Seasearch Co-ordinators throughout the UK.

These will be part-time posts ideally provided on a consultancy basis, and will be subject to a capped amount of funding available up to £5,000 pa + expenses. The Local Co-ordinators will be expected to promote Seasearch to divers, conservation organisations and local authorities in their area through talks, articles, and publicity in the local media. They will also organise Seasearch training events locally and coordinate local diving activities. They will ensure that data collected locally is made available and that feedback is given to local organisations and participants.

Local Co-ordinators should already have an understanding of Seasearch, probably gained as a participant, and ideally would be a Seasearch Tutor, though this is not a requirement. They should be recreational divers and, whilst they will encourage and promote Seasearch diving, any diving they do themselves will be recreational and not a part of this contract.

The priority areas for the appointment of Co-ordinators are North and South Wales, Devon, Northern Ireland, West and North-East Scotland and East and North-East England but applications from potential co-ordinators in other areas may be considered.

For more information about Seasearch see the website: For more information about the Local Co-ordinator posts and how to apply contact National Seasearch Co-ordinator Chris Wood by telephone on 07776 142096 or by email to

Seasearch is co-ordinated nationally by a Steering Group led by the Marine Conservation Society and including representatives from statutory conservation bodies (Countryside Council for Wales, English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage, Environment and Heritage Service of Northern Ireland and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee), the Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trusts, the Marine Biological Association (MarLIN), diving organisations (BSAC, PADI, SAA, and SSAC), Nautical Archaeological Society and independent marine life experts.

Posted 12/10/04

Try a Dive with Musselburgh Sub Aqua Club

Musselburgh sub-aqua club are holding a try dive night on the 27th October. Please contact David Carruthers on 07719 296073 for further information if you would like to take part.

Posted 12/10/04

Cromwell's Sailor Fit and Healthy

Photo: Wessex Archaeology diver recording the SwanThe only human remains found on the wreck of the Cromwellian pinnace "Swan" was a fit and healthy young lad in his twenties.

Nicknamed "Seaman Swan", the sailor had strong upper arms but bowed legs due to suffering from Ricketts in childhood. Although only 5'2" in height Seaman Swan was a fit and healthy young man when his ship sank in the Sound of Mull on 13th September 1653 said Dr Colin Martin, who presented the findings of his excavation of the Swan at the Festival of Science in Exeter last month.

80% of the skeleton has been recovered from the wreck, Dr Martin went on to say "It is clear from his brawny physique that the man performed rhythmic balancing work, such as setting sails and hauling on ropes." The hip joints showed deformities consistent with jumping off a 2m high wall on a regular basis, crew of sailng ships were known to climb most of the way down the rigging then slide the last bit of the way down onto the deck.

The Swan would probably have had a crew of 40 but Seaman Swan is the only one to have been recovered. Excavation work on the wreck has now ended and the fragile remains have been covered over with sandbags to protect them from further deterioration. The Swan is a protected wreck but visits can be arranged through the Lochaline Dive Centre. A small exhibition is on display in Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull. The exhibition tells the story of the Swan, how she was wrecked and then rediscovered some 400 years later.

Posted 01/10/04

New British Cave Diving Record

A new depth record has been set for British cave diving. Rick Stanton and John Volanthen dived to 76m in Wookey Hole. The pair used rebreathers to dive the Somerset cave system which is still not fully explored. The buddies had to clear the passage way of rock and gravel before acheiving the depth record and spent five hours underwater.

The previous British cave diving depth record of 71m was set last year at Speedwell Caverns in Derbyshire.

Posted 01/10/04

Site Search Facility Added

A search facility has been added to the SSAC site to help you find what you're looking for a bit more easily!

The facility is set up to search the SSAC website, a search for SSAC HQ will return references to pages with the word SSAC and the word HQ on them as well as any with the exact phrase SSAC HQ. Entering "SSAC HQ " will return only those pages with the exact phrase SSAC HQ. Further words can be added outside the quotes to limit the listing to your topic of interest. e.g., "SSAC HQ" contact. To search the whole web just check the www box.

Posted 24/09/04

Swatch Fun Scuba Watches

Looking for a new dive watch? Swatch have just launched a new range of wacky watches rated to 200m with a depth meter and automatic dive timer. In Swatch tradition the names are pretty wacky too, including Moray's Bite, Dolphin Whistle and Squid Bubbles!

The depth meter automatically activates once the watch is submerged below one metre of water. The hour hand displays the depth to a maximum of 40m, and the minute hand shows the total dive time - to a maximum of 90 minutes. Dive time is measured in seconds for the first 2 minutes - presumably for snorkellers. The depth meter/timer can be activated manually by depressing the crown twice whilst still on the surface.

You can store information about your favourite dive and view it at any time. Once out of the water the mode autmatically returns to the ordinary time display. On the surface you can view the recorded dive by pressing the crown once. These are large watches! The face measures 33mm and the casing is approximately 47mm wide and 15mm deep, so they should be relatively easy to read underwater and unmissable on the surface.

The Fun Scuba range is on sale in the UK, price around £50.00 - more details on the Swatch website

Please note: The manufacturers stress that Fun Scuba watches are not scuba diving watches - by which they mean that the measurements of the Fun Scuba range are not of a professional or industrial precision and so the swatch must not be used as a sole measure of depth or dive time. These watches are not a replacement for an accurate depth guage & dive timer or a dive computer.

Posted 24/09/04

Scotland - Basking Shark Hotspot

The latest survey results from The Wildlife Trust's Basking Shark Project for 2004 has revealed Scotland to be this year's top spot for basking sharks. The UK-wide survey found that out of a total of 120 sharks spotted over a 10-week period, 106 were seen in Scottish waters.

Compared to last year, when only around 40 sharks were seen during the same time period in Scotland, this is a huge increase in sightings. Speaking from the boat Forever Changes which sailed through the Firth of Clyde before venturing into the Sea of the Hebrides, marine conservationist and skipper of the survey boat Colin Speedie said: "This year Scotland is the real hotspot for sharks. This is a complete reverse of last year's findings and is a result of the amount of good plankton around. More generally this could be down to favourable currents that are pushing the food source northwards. Local boats are benefiting from the increased number of sharks as wildlife watchers have more chance of seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild".

As long as a bus, basking sharks are just one of 23 species of whales and dolphins found in Scottish waters and part of 44,000 species supported by Scotland's coast and seas. With the number of boat operators taking visitors out to see marine wildlife increasing by 79 % since 1997, the growing demands of the many different activities brings with it the danger of increased pressure on Scotland's wildlife and the natural environment with basking sharks sharing our busy waters. As Colin Speedie continued; "What is also interesting this year is that the areas which seem really rich in marine life are those within the proposed area for Scotland's first marine National Park. We have also seen quite a few repeat sightings suggesting the sharks are returning to original sites because of the abundance of food".

Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) has joined up with WWF Scotland to promote the protection of species like the basking shark through the Joint Marine Programme (JMP). JMP officer, Dr Rebecca Boyd, said: "the basking shark is an awe-inspiring creature, and one more reason why we need to manage our seas better. SWT and WWF Scotland strongly support the establishment of a marine National Park (mNP) in Scotland because we believe that this is an excellent way of giving coastal communities lasting economic support while allowing our unique wildlife to flourish. A marine park would allow better planning of activities like fisheries, aquaculture and marine tourism, avoiding damaging competition between user groups for space and resources."

Although two terrestrial parks have been established in Scotland, there are as yet no marine parks. Experience from abroad shows that managing the marine environment well can bring with it substantial gain locally. Rebecca Boyd said, "SWT and WWF Scotland call on the Scottish Executive to support coastal communities in developing their own proposals for where Scotland's first mNP should be. Grass roots efforts need to be encouraged with clear guidance from government on what the National Parks legislation could mean for Scotland's seas."

The basking shark survey which began in 2003 aims to further protection of the UK's largest fish through developing knowledge and understanding of this fascinating species, its movements and most favoured sites. It covers the waters of the English Channel, the Irish Sea, the Firth of Clyde and the Hebrides.

For more information about the basking shark project please visit:

Posted 20/09/04

Visions in the Sea Underwater Digital Photography Seminar

Europe's first conference devoted to digital underwater photography will be held in London on October 23rd.

'Visions in the Sea' is now in its eighth year. Previous conferences have been concerned primarily with using film to take photographs beneath the waves but this year the focus is entirely digital.

Steve Warren of Ocean Optics, the conference hosts, said "The content of Visions this year reflects the significant increase in numbers of people buying digital outfits so they can take up underwater photography. We are catering for beginners but also for more serious users of top-of-the-range digital SLRs".

Speakers range from divers who use modestly priced compact cameras to seasoned award winning experts who will share their experience and secrets with the audience.

The conference will be held at the Waterloo campus of King's College, London in Stamford Street. Speakers include Peter Rowlands, Alex Mustard, Charles Hood, Will Postlethwaite and Dave Lloyd. The speakers will cover numerous subjects including; the digital revolution and its implications for underwater photography, techniques that make the best use of digital cameras, taking high impact photographs, light filtration and the use of colour filters as well as how the experts use laptops and other digital storage devices to download pictures whilst away on expedition.

Full details of the conference are available on the Ocean Optics website

Posted 20/09/04

Seasearch Observer Course Oban 2-3 October 2004
Interested in sea life? Want to give something back to the marine environment? Want a relaxed enjoyable weekend after which you'll see twice as much life on your dives? Nothing booked for Oct 2-3rd?

Spaces are available for a Seasearch Observer Course in Oban for £25 per person. The Observer Course is a one-day course on the Saturday and does not require diving. We do hope however to do shore dives on the Sunday in upper Loch Creran to enable course participants to get Seasearch Observer dives signed off by Calum Duncan, Marine Conservation Society and Seasearch.

The Seasearch Observer course is not a marine identification course, although there is a marine identification component to it. It is principally designed to give you the confidence to go out on your dive with a slate and return simple, useful information about the seabed and its associated wildlife. You do not need to know latin names for anything!

About the Weekend

    •  Saturday - The course will start at 0900 on Saturday 2nd October. The course consists of some introductory talks from Calum Duncan on marine life and habitats, followed by simple position-fixing from charts, then practising seabed recording from video-clips culminating with participants completing a (non-assessed) Seasearch form after watching a video dive.
    •  Sunday - Diving on the Sunday will be from the shore in Loch Creran and, although weather & tide dependent, is sheltered.

You will need to provide your own accommodation and lunches on Saturday and Sunday.

About You

You DO NOT need to be a qualified diver to do the one-day, class-room based Seasearch Observer Course on the Saturday. You DO need to be a qualified diver before you can do any Seasearch for real on the Sunday.

For the latter, minimum qualifications are SSAC/BSAC Sports Diver, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, SAA Club Diver or CMAS 2 Star equivalent. You need to have done at least 20 dives of which 10 should have been in temperate seawater. You will also need to have a diving medical certificate or medical declaration and have 3rd party diving insurance.

Seasearch is not a diver-training organisation and we insist that you do not dive beyond your previous level of experience on our dives. You need to bring your own diving equipment, air is available in Oban.

The day course costs £25 per person. If interested, please contact as soon as possible.

For more information on Seasearch visit the Seasearch website.

Posted 20/09/04

Edinburgh Airport Imposes Weight Limits

Edinburgh has become the first airport in Scotland to impose weight limits on individual pieces of luggage. From Thursday 26th of August passengers travelling through Edinburgh will be restricted to a weight of 32kg per item of luggage. Passengers with bags weighing more than 32kg, or 70lbs, at check-in will be asked to repack. The airport say bags will be made available for anyone who is asked to repack. The weight limit does not affect overall baggage allowances, which remain the same, but each piece of luggage must weigh in at less than 32kg.

The move is aimed to reduce injury to baggage handlers and follows a similar weight restriction imposed earlier in the year at Heathrow airport. Edinburgh is the first airport in Scotland to introduve the limit, but others are expected to follow suit.

Edinburgh Airport managing director Richard Jeffrey said the change was intended to protect the airport's 300 baggage-handling staff. Almost half of all injuries reported to the Health & Safety Executive at the airport involve staff lifting heavy luggage.

Huge divebags may well be a thing of the past for travellers using British airports.

Posted 26/08/04

Ghosts of the Abyss

The RMS Titanic has captured the imagination of millions, from her launch and calamitous maiden voyage to rediscovery of the wreck over 70 years later. In 2001 James Cameron, director of "Titanic", led a team of underwater explorers and filmmakers in a return to the Titanic. The team made a series of historic dives using new camera and lighting equipment to capture images of the interior and exterior of the wreck. Advanced light and filming techniques were used including high-definition 3D cameras, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and a deep water lighting platform that illuminated the deep ocean like never before. "Ghosts of the Abyss" tells the story of that expedition in large format 3D.

The resulting 59-minute IMAX movie descends more than two miles beneath the surface of the ocean, into the ruined wreck of the great ship, an interior unseen for more than ninety years. In parts of the film images of passengers are superimposed on the underwater footage of the wreck, creating an eerie impression of what must have happened on the night of the famous sinking.

"Ghosts of the Abyss" was released on April 11th 2003 and is showing at the only IMAX cinema in Scotland, at the Glasgow Science Centre, between August 31st and September 23rd 2004

You can view a short trailer at the film's website "Ghosts of the Abyss", or download wallpaper for your PC.

Posted 26/08/04

Flash Floods Increase Marine Pollution Risk

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) today warned that the summer’s heavy storms and flooding across the UK poses a potential pollution risk on Britain’s bathing beaches. MCS is calling for permanent signs on all bathing beaches, advising swimmers that coastal waters can be temporarily affected by increased pollution, with a consequent risk to bathers’ health, after heavy rain.

Many of Britain’s bathing beaches have Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) and storm water outfalls sited on or near the beach. Following periods of heavy rainfall, and to avoid floodwater overwhelming local sewage treatment plants, CSOs divert untreated sewage away from treatment plants and discharge directly into rivers and coastal waters.

There is a further potential risk associated with diffuse pollution, which may also contaminate bathing waters. This type of pollution washes off or sinks into the land, usually as a result of rain, over wide geographical areas. It derives from multiple (diffuse) sources such as farmland and highways, and can invade ground water, rivers, streams, estuaries, or discharge directly into the sea. Diffuse pollution can affect any beach, even if the beach is not subject to CSO and storm water outfalls.

MCS recognises that discharges from CSO and storm water outfalls are necessary to avoid sewage flooding people’s homes, and that diffuse pollution is an entrenched and difficult problem. However, bathers are put at risk because beaches with normally excellent water quality, some possibly recommended in the MCS Good Beach Guide, can be temporarily affected by CSO discharges and/or diffuse pollution, and people may enter the sea in ignorance of this fact.

There are presently limited beach signage schemes around parts of the UK, advising swimmers about the problems associated with heavy rain. Notably, MCS promotes its Recommended Beach certificate, and the Scottish Executive is funding a pilot project developing predictive signage for local water quality, which is operated by SEPA. MCS fully supports this Scottish Executive initiative, and is in favour of its continued expansion.

Thomas Bell, MCS Good Beach Guide Officer, said, “The water quality monitoring data from May onwards shows periodic surges in faecal pollution at beaches with normally very good water quality. These temporary peaks in faecal bacteria load seem to correlate with big storm events. We accept that pollution surges are at present an almost unavoidable consequence of heavy rain. MCS is therefore urging the Government and beach managers to adopt a mandatory national scheme to provide permanent public information about storm pollution on every bathing beach.”

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) operate a live flood warning information line and website, tel 0845 988 1188 and For travel delays caused by flooding (and other problems) visit the National Driver Information and Control System (NADICS).

Posted 20/08/04

Appointment of our new Acting National Diving Officer

It gives me great pleasure to announce that at the joint meeting of the National Diving Council and the General Committee on the 11 August 04, Kevin Webb was appointed into the above role, filling the void left by Rab. Kevin is an active Branch member & instructor in Carlisle, our Regional Instructor course co-ordinator, a Regional Coach, an Examiner and up until his appointment the Vice-Chair of the SSAC.

I’m sure you’ll give him your support in this new role along with the N.D.C., which remains as elected.

Kindest regards,

Ken Smith, Chair, The SSAC

Kevin can be contacted by email at

FISHONLINE, the Good Fish Guide

We've all heard the health pundits expounding on the benefits of eating fish regularly, particularly oily fish. Equally concerns about over fishing and damaging the marine environment are close to the hearts of many divers. So the big question is which fish to eat and which to avoid? Are your breakfast kippers fished within sustainable levels? Is you tinned tuna caught using methods which do not cause unacceptable damage to the environment or non-target species?

The Marine Conservation Society has just launched FISHONLINE a website that aims to help you identify which fish are from well managed sources and/or caught using methods that minimise damage to marine wildlife and habitats. To make things easy there is a "fish to eat" list and a "fish to avoid" list, both explain why the species has been included, so you wont be left in any doubt. For easy reference when you are out shopping or at a restaurant MCS has also produced a Good Fish Pocket Guide. This wallet-sized list of the Fish to Eat and the Fish to Avoid is available FREE from MCS on receipt of a SAE to Marine Conservation Society, Unit 3 Wolf Business Park, Alton Road, Ross-on-Wye, HR9 5NB.

Posted 10/08/04

Earthdive website launched

A brand new website has been launched which allows divers to log dives and record sightings of key marine species online. The aim of Earthdive is to build up a global database, or science log, and create a snapshot of the state of the worlds seas.

The earthdive science log is said to be a pioneering methodology developed with help from partner organisations (Coral Cay Conservation & UNEP-WCMC) and marine scientists from around the world. By recording sightings of the key species the scientists hope to track changes in species populations. Changes which can tell us a lot about the evolving state of our oceans and help to determine and prioritise urgent conservation activities.

Earthdive members can observe and record sightings of key species during a dive or snorkel trip and enter observations in a personal Science Log. Members can also log evidence of pressures on the marine environment ­ such as pollution and overfishing - that have been created by human (anthropogenic) activity. All data can be viewed by earthdive members in the Global Dive Log.

Earthdive is a commercial organisation which seeks to effect positive change towards a more sustainable marine environment by raising global awareness and financial support for the protection of the oceans. Membership costs £10 per year, 50% of which goes directly to partner organisations such as Coral Cay Conservation.

Posted 10/08/04

150 Years of the Receiver of Wreck

One hundred and fifty years of the Receiver of Wreck were celebrated aboard HMS Warrior, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on 9th August.

The Mary Rose Trust declared one find from their 2004 dive, a 4" diameter stone ball to the Receiver of Wreck at the Reception. Just one of many artefacts recovered so far this season, the stone shot spent 459 years on the seabed before being raised. The Mary Rose Trust will be declaring all the finds from the 2004 dive to the Receiver of Wreck on completion of diving.

Dr John Bevan, the well respected and experienced professional diver presented a ship's compass, which was a wreck find, to the Receiver of Wreck at the reception.

The office of Receiver of Wreck was created in 1854, as part of the Merchant Shipping Act, to deal with wreck and salvage issues on behalf of the Crown. The role exists primarily to ensure that shipwreck owners are given the opportunity of having their property returned and that salvors are entitled to a salvage award.

With the advent and exponential growth of scuba diving there have been changes to the type of wreck dealt with by the Receiver. Sunken wrecks are becoming accessible to more and more people. Salvors with whom the Receiver of Wreck now deal include divers, archaeologists, fishermen, seabed developers and salvage companies. The Receiver of Wreck now deals with a very wide range of wreck material, varying from historically important material from for instance Armada period wrecks, to current wrecks around the coast of the UK such as the `Cita' and the `Kodima'.

Posted 10/08/04

Heartstart & Oxygen Administration Course Dates

Albert Smith has organised a series of Heartstart & Oxygen Administration courses again this year. The dates are;

  • 27th June
  • 18th July
  • 15th August
  • 12th September
  • 7th November
  • 12th December

Posted 21/05/04

FunFest Volunteers Wanted!

The SSAC Try Dive pool will be visiting FunFest again this year. The FunFest takes place at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh on the 4th and 5th of September and Billy Symington is looking for volunteers to help in the pool or at the poolside with registration and kitting up. Please contact if you'd like to go along and help. Last years event was extremely busy so the more the merrier!

Here's what the organisers have to say about this year's event....

"Funfest 2004 is all about having fun. If you are looking for an event packed with fun and if you love squeezing the most out of your day then Funfest was created for you. We have action from 10 till 5 both days in our key attractions area which will feature acts as varied as the stunning stuntmen The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, parachute team The Golden Lions and the frantic antics of the dog racing Tricky Tykes.

Many of the attractions allow you to get completely involved, scuba diving, skating, the circus skills and the assault course will give you a taster of a potential future hobby. In our Fun in Scotland area you can experience some of our countries finest visitor attractions including Our Dynamic Earth, Deep Sea World and Edinburgh Dungeon.

Add to that the Blue Arrows Motor Cycle Team*, Falcon displays, It’s a Knockout, bouncy castles, paintball, Silly Billy’s Playbus, music from Radio Grapevine, a live band and a visit from Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang, and we hope you agree Funfest has Fun written all over it."

Pictures from this event are on display in the Gallery.

Posted 14/08/04

SSAC Hero Takes on Seamonster!

SSAC's very own George Telfer, BDO for Tayside branch, has added the taming of seamonsters to his many other skills - and being the modest soul he is the story has only been reported in the Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Underwater Times and the Metro!

The Daily Record reports "With razor-sharp teeth sinking deep into him, George was dragged through the wreck by the 250lb beast in a life-or-death tussle on the sea-floor. The death-grip could have finished the diver, who has more than 17 years experience exploring reefs and treacherous waters across the world."

The Metro account was slightly less sensational describing the moment when George reached into the wreck to pick up a lobster for lunch, the conger had other ideas and took a bite out of George instead, leaving him with bite marks on his hands and bruised face. The report by Mike Tait goes on to say "The diver, who discovered the trawler threee months ago, was battered against the side of the boat as the eel tried to pull him through a hatch". In this interview George claims "I would say Conger eels are about 30 times stronger than humans, and they have a fierce grip. With my free hand, I made a grab for its throat and managed to distract its attention". The Metro claims the seamonster was 12 ft long and weighed 250lb - so George was wise to give up the lobster.

For any non-divers out there a conger of these dimensions is an extremely unusual sighting and being attacked by a conger is equally rare - not that we're saying the story has been exaggerated. If George ould like to get in touch and give his side of the story we would be delighted to publish it! Meanwhile we're pleased to hear George had no more than a few bruises and bite marks to show for the encounter.

You can read the Daily Record report online "My Battle with Giant Eel 100ft Under Sea - diver's wreck nightmare" it's good for a giggle.

Posted 18/07/04

Branch Instructor Course Scheduled for August

A branch instructor course has been scheduled for 28th August. The course will be held at HQ in Glasgow, if you would like to take part please ensure you have the prerequisites for the course then .

Posted 13/07/04

Shark Awareness Weekend at Deep Sea World

Deep Sea World, home to eleven species of shark, is hosting a Shark Awareness weekend packed full of talks, feeding demonstrations and fun activities to dispel the many myths of the world's most misunderstood predator - the shark.

Deep Sea World Zoological Manager Matt Kane says:

"The Shark Awareness weekend aims to raise the public's awareness of the plight of sharks in our oceans and the environmental threats they face.

An estimated 100 million sharks are being killed each year mainly as a result of by catch and the vast international demand for shark fins for soup. As apex predators, sharks maintain the balance of the marine ecosystem and play a vital role in our oceans. Their disappearance could have devastating effects on other fish species.

Aquaria such as Deep Sea World are pioneering these issues and supporting campaigns to kerb such practices to ensure that these magnificent creatures are conserved for future generations".

The highlight of the weekend will be special guest speaker Mike Rutzen (famous for his free diving with Great Whites in South Africa) who will be talking about his many adventures with great white sharks and the importance of shark conservation.

The Mike Rutzen evening will start at 7pm, August 29th. Tickets are priced a £10 and include entry to Deep Sea World, Mike Rutzen's talk and a glass of wine. Mike Rutzen will also be giving talks throughout Monday 30th August, free to all Deep Sea World visitors. To book tickets please call 01383 411 880 or visit the Deep Sea World website.

Posted 02/07/04

St Kilda Protection Zone Extended

St Kilda has been granted greater protection by the World Heritage Committee. The islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray became a designated World Heritage Site in 1986. The volcanic archepeligo, which lies 41 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, has some of the highest cliffs in Europe and provides a home for large colonies of rare and endangered species of birds, especially puffins and gannets. The extended protection zone covers 242km², twice the area of the original site and for the first time covers the marine environment close to the Islands.

An unedited version of the Socttish Executive submission to the World Heritage Committee is available online at the St Kilda website.

Posted 02/07/04

Portencross Castle on BBC's 'Restoration'

Jack Morrison recently received an email from Ann and John McLachlan, past members of Paisley Branch, who have become involved in the campaign to restore Portencross Castle in Ayrshire. The castle has been chosen to take part in the BBC's 2004 'Restoration' series. Presented by Griff Rhys Jones, 'Restoration' asks viewers to vote for and help save one of the UK's 21 most endangered buildings. Each programme will focus on three endangered properties in one area, then offer viewers the chance to vote for the building they would most like to see restored. Each of the regional winners will go forward to the Live Final, a spectacular celebration of the nation's heritage, and the moment when one property is voted as the most worthy of Restoration.

Portencross Castle features in the first programme of the series and will compete against the Hall of Clestrain in Orkney and Knockando Wool Mill in Moray. Many divers will know Portencross Castle as a favourite dive site, this is what Ann has to say....

"John and I are former members of Paisley branch- John was chairman for several years. We thoroughly enjoyed attending the civic reception last year. We now live at Portencross and are heavily involved in the campaign to have Portencross Castle selected as the winner of the Scottish heat of Restoration 2. We used to dive here ourselves and know that there are parties of divers here most weekends.

It would be great if you could encourage your members to watch Restoration on BBC2, 9pm, Tuesday 13 July and vote for Portencross Castle. Voting opens at 2am on 13 July and closes at midnight on 14 July The number to phone is 09011 332222. You can vote as often as you like but calls cost 50p of which 34p goes to the Restoration Fund.

Whether they vote or not, I'm sure everybody who knows Portencross will enjoy watching the program filmed over several days in and around the Castle.

Best wishes to all

Ann McLachlan, Company Secretary, Friends of Portencross Castle."

To find out more about Portencross Castle visit the Friends website at

Posted 02/07/04

BBC's "Deep Blue" on UK Release

"Deep Blue" is a major new documentary feature film shot by the BBC Natural History Unit - the same team that produced "The Blue Planet". Deep Blue is a cinematic epic mesmerising viewers with beauty and stun them with their grandeur. Intensifying the film's impact is a new, full orchestral score composed specifically for Deep Blue by five-time Oscar nominee George Fenton (Gandhi, Cry Freedom) and recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - their first ever recording of a film score. The film is narrated by acclaimed film and stage actor Michael Gambon.

One of the most singular and comprehensive projects ever undertaken in the field of documentary filmmaking, Deep Blue plunges the audience into the spectacle of the seas and takes it on a journey from the shallowest coral reefs to the barren shores of the Antarctic, from the vast stretches of the open ocean to the nocturnal landscapes of the ocean's deepest chasms. Director Alastair Fothergill comments: "We take you to a world you have never seen before, to what I believe is genuinely the last frontier on our planet.

Despite the fact that the sea constitutes two-thirds of our planet, we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the deep oceans. Now, for the first time ever, it is possible to explore a world few have ever seen. From the familiar to the unknown, Deep Blue reveals the sea and its communities at their most enchanting, alluring and fierce. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Andy Byatt assembled 20 specialised camera teams, shot over 7, 000 hours of footage in more than 200 locations around the world for more than 5 years, and descended as far as 5, 000 meters in the most powerful submersible crafts. New species of ocean dwellers were discovered, and many photographed for the first time ever.

The makers of the successful BBC series "The Blue Planet" have selected the most stunning images and the most captivating sequences, together with new and unseen footage, to create an unforgettable cinematic experience. Scenes filmed specifically for a big-screen version create a documentary event movie for all ages.

According to the BBC Deep Blue is showing at the following cinemas in Scotland from 18/06/2004;

  • UGC Renfrew Street, Glasgow
  • Edinburgh Filmhouse, Lothian Rd, Edinburgh
  • UGC Fountain Park, Edinburgh

Get fantastic screensavers and wallpaper from the Deep Blue website where you can view the theatrical trailers and listen to the score too. Read the reviews on the BBC website.

Posted 17/06/04

Halcyon Stainless Steel Power Inflator Recall

Halcyon is recalling all stainless steel power inflators. The only units affected can be easily identified by their stainless buttons and started shipping on all Halcyon BCs after Oct 21, 2003. This recall is in response to problems experienced by some Halcyon customers. Identification of the cause was unusually difficult due to the odd dispersion of these problem units. Furthermore most customers report that their units are performing flawlessly. However, there are pockets of unacceptable failures in which customers or dive shops seem to have a grouping of unreliable inflators. Given the nature of this failure, there is no way to ensure that a unit performing properly will not develop problems over time.

Typically, the problem expresses itself as a slow leak into the BC bladder. The cause of the leak relates to small imperfections within the machining of the stainless air barrel of some inflators. Not all of the inflators exhibit the machining flaws. Thus, a majority of the units perform flawlessly but groupings of product might display the imperfections. We believe there to be no responsible alternative but to institute a recall of every stainless steel inflator sold by Halcyon. In order to ensure this recall occurs in the most responsible manner possible, we have contacted the U.S. Products Safety Commission and notified them of the return. They are monitoring the recall process and the return of the units.

Halcyon is deeply apologetic for any inconvenience this recall might cause. We are dedicated to making the world's best diving products and to ensuring diver safety at all costs; this solution seems the only reasonable course of action. Please do not use your BC with the Halcyon stainless steel power inflator until we have had the chance to replace the suspect unit. This recall only applies to Halcyon inflators shipped after Oct 21, 2003. These units have stainless steel buttons and are easily identifiable from previous Halcyon inflators.

In order to reduce the inconvenience and to return your BC to operation as quickly as possible, we are shipping new inflators to your local Halcyon dealer. You may bring your inflator to your dealer, trade it for a new unit, and have it fitted to your buoyancy compensator. Please contact your local Halcyon facility to coordinate the best time for this warranty replacement. If this solution is not feasible, please contact Halcyon using the following information:

800-Halcyon (425-2966)

If you prefer to send your Halcyon inflator directly to Halcyon please call or email to obtain a return authorization number. This number will significantly assist in the speedy return of your new Halcyon inflator.
Please include your return authorization number with your return and send the unit to the following address:

Halcyon Manufacturing
ATT: Tech Services
1110 S. Main St
High Springs, FL 32643

Be sure to include return shipping information with your inflator. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. We will be very happy to work with you in any way that supports your satisfaction and safety.

Jarrod Jablonski
Halcyon CEO

Posted 14/06/04

Dive North East 2004

Grampian SAC and the association of Aberdeen dive clubs, are organising the 4th "Dive Northeast" camping-and-diving solstice weekend on 19-20 June. The event is based in Millshore (near Pennan). Facilities include Portaloos (sponsored by a local dive shop) and running water (purchased by the association from a local farmer). There will be BBQ's, lots of boat and shore diving (weather permitting) and camping is free. Why not come along and join in the fun?

Posted 10/06/04

Cold Water Reef Discovered

The UK's first inshore cold water coral reefs have been discovered in the Sea of the Hebrides. Scientists from the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory identified the reefs using sonar equipment. The reef is made up of the cold water coral, Lophelia pertusa, which is also found at the Darwin Mounds, the main difference is that the new reef lies in just 90m of water south-east of the Hebridean island of Barra.

Murray Roberts led the research team based at the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) said "This is not just one or two lumps or the scattered bush-like growth of coral we found elsewhere, but substantial mounds. The reefs have a very complicated physical structure, with lots of nooks and crannies which provide plenty of ecological niches for different animals to occupy". The team now hope to return to the site with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to conduct a visual survey of the site.

Helen McLachlan, spokesperson for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has called for increased protection of Scotland's marine life. "This demonstrates how little we know about the amazing biodiversity that exists in our seas" she said, although the reefs provide a vital habitat for marine species, they are vulnerable to damage from towed fishing gear. The Darwin Mounds recently won protected status from the European Parliament to prevent trawl damage.

The Everyone Campaign brings together the members of a broad spectrum of Scottish environment groups - to find out what you can do to help protect Scotlands unique marine environment, especially in the run up to the European Parliamentary elections on June 10th, please visit the Everyone website.

Posted 04/06/04

Cars Broken Into - Loch Long

Two cars were broken into at the Caves, Loch Long on Monday 24th, May. The thieves took money and personal belongings when the owners were away diving. Be aware that thieves are operating in the Loch Long area.

Thanks to Bill Brown for passing on the information.

Posted 27/05/04

"Lost" Trailer

LOST - on Sunday 23rd May 2004

Two miles north of Finnart, heading south from the Pit Stop, on Sunday morning (23/05/2004), my trusty little trailer decided it had had enough of heavy cylinders. As the trailer would go no further the cylinders where put in the 4 track and the trailer left by the road for later collection and restoration. You guessed - when I returned at 9:00pm there was no trace of my two wheeled friend, just the note I had attached to it carefully hidden under a rock! If you know the whereabouts of this damaged piece of essential diving equipment (or are kindly looking after it for me!) please phone and let me know.

Many thanks , Kilmarnock Sub Aqua Club. Tel 01563 884267

Posted 26/05/04

Stolen Kit

Please keep an eye open for a heap of kit stolen from the camping area in Largs Marina, on Sunday night/ Monday morning 2nd/3rd May. The thieves had the nerve to unzip the divers tents - with the divers asleep inside - and nick two boxes full of gear.

The full list of gear stolen is;

    • Hydro optic Tech 2 O BCD in black/ yellow
    • Apex ATX200 reg and 1st stage (international fit)
    • TX 50 octopus in yellow with yellow hose wrap
    • Suunto Cobra quick disconnect hose
    • Oceanic V Drive fins in luminous green 1 black strap, 1 grey strap
    • Cressi sub Big Eyes mask in yellow
    • Kowalski 1250s torch in gold/yellow with sleeve
    • Beaver SMB with Adrian written on the end
    • Blue/green bcd- can't remember the make but it's really basic!
    • Mares MR16 Voltrex and Nikos octopus
    • Mares Plana avanti fins in black
    • Seac sub pro 2000 BCD
    • TX 50 reg and 1st stage in blue (din with yoke fitted)
    • TX 50 octopus in yellow with hose wrap
    • Aladdin air computer
    • Cressi sub Big Eyes mask in blue
    • Mares vector BCD
    • Poseidon cyclone 500 reg with Poseidon 300 1st stage (din with yoke fitted)
    • Suunto cobra quick disconnect hose
    • Scuba Pro split fins in grey
    • Cressi sub Horizon mask in blue
    • Unbranded divers knife with double edged 7"blade and yellow handle
    • 2 x black Stanley tool chests with bright yellow wheels and handles


    The theft took place between 0130hrs and 0330hrs on Monday morning 3rd May, any help or information to reunite the kit and it's owners would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Largs police or Adrian (the owner) mobile no 07887 570987.

Posted 05/05/04

Walk for Whales and Dolphins

Father's Day. Sunday 20th June, 2004 - help raise vital funds to stop dolphin deaths in nets. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) is asking people to get sponsored and help raise vital funds to stop dolphins dying in fishing nets by joining a local WDCS walk near you.

Micheale Strachan, TV Presenter, is supporting the walks and WDCS; "Go Really Wild this Father's Day. Instead of taking your Dad out to lunch to show you love him, take him out for a walk - and show that you also love wildlife. Let your feet do something to help save whales and dolphins by joining in a WDCS walk on Father's Day. And if you can't take your Dad take a friend instead. There are lots of walks taking place all over the country so go on....get walking!

Walks Information: WDCS, is expecting to see thousands of whale and dolphin enthusiasts walking all over the country to help raise vital funds.

    • All funds raised from the walks will go towards efforts to protect whales and dolphins world wide.
    • 65 walks are happening nationwide, the majority are on Father's Day, Sunday 20th June.
    • The walks are approximately 5 miles long.
    • Children aged below 16 years of age need to be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
    • Please wear appropriate footwear.
    • Please check the website,, prior to the day for any updates.

Facts and Figures about whales and dolphins (cetaceans) being caught in fishing nets (bycatch);

    • An estimated 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in fishing nets every single year world wide.
    • Once a dolphin swims into a net it can become easily trapped, panic often sets in and as the distraught dolphin tries to free itself it will thrash wildly often lacerating its body in a desperate struggle for air.
    • WDCS fears that dolphins and porpoises could be wiped out from UK and European waters if more isn’t done to protect them from fishing activities.

To find a walk near you and to get your information pack, go online at and get 30% off a walks t-shirt! Or phone the walks hotline on 0870 870 5001.

Posted 28/04/2004

Try Dive Helpers Needed - Murray Foundation "Wet and Wild" Event

SSAC have been asked to help out at the Murray Foundation "Wet & Wild" Event at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh on June 12th. The Murray Foundation are a charity that helps amputees and their families. The Wet & Wild day will be a two centred event - morning spent on the water at Port Edgar and afternoon at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh. SSAC have been asked to help in the afternoon by providing try dives to amputees and their families. A number of other activities will be provided by Edinburgh Leisure such as swim coaching sessions. SSAC try dives were very popular at a previous event held at Scotstoun in 2001 when Martin Henderson and Malcolm Campbell helped out. Helpers are needed to take try dives so if you can help out at this extremely worthwhile event please contact and make this event as successful as the last!

Details of the Wet & Wild Event



Arrival at pool: 16.30

Time in water: 17.00-18.30

Numbers: total of 30-40 people for the day, split into small groups for swimming coaching/free swimming/ off-side diving/ sub aqua as required. Range of ages. Both amputees and non amputees (amputees will be given priority).

Posted 26/05/04

Everyone Can Help Scotland's Seas

The European Parliamentary elections take place on Thursday 10th June - up to 90% of Scotland's environmental legislation starts life at the European Parliament

    •  95% of Scots think that protection of the environment is an issue that is important to them personally, according to a MORI poll

    •  The same poll revealed that only 22% of Scots were certain to vote!

Photo: Devonshire Cup Coral everyone is a campaign which brings together the members of a broad spectrum of Scottish environment groups - including the Marine Conservation Society and the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. The everyone campaign focuses the activities of a combined membership of around 500,000 Scots on issues of common interest, it is co-ordinated by Scottish Environment LINK.

In the run up to the Euopean election everyone EU compaign wants all political parties and potential Scottish MEPs to make a commitment to the environment, to make sure Scotland's representatives in the Euopean Parliament deliver the environmental protection and support the country - and it's seas - need.

You can help Scotland's seas

Voters are the most important people in the minds of politicians right now and that means YOU! Ahead of the voting on June 10th ask your MEP candidates what they are going to do for the environment if they are elected. The everyone website has an ACT NOW section which shows you how to produce letters or emails to send to MEP candidates.

Why is Scotland's Marine Environment Important?

Scotland supports an estimated 8,000 species of marine wildlife – believed to account for over 50% of our biodiversity. Many of these have been identified as in need of protection while 33 of the UK’s 65 possible marine Special Areas of Conservation are Scottish. Scotland is home to almost a third of the world’s grey seals. It is also of international importance for its seabirds, as host to about a sixth of all seabirds breeding in Europe Over half the Special Protection Areas in Scotland are designated for their sea or shore bird interest.

Of a total estimated £17 billion contributed to Scotland’s economy by the environment, Scotland’s seas and estuaries contribute most of this total – a staggering £14.3 billion. Many of Scotland’s communities are heavily dependent on fisheries and aquaculture and form a vitally important role in Scotland’s rural economy.

Why is the European Union important for Scotland’s marine environment?

Regulation of fisheries is negotiated at a European level and the Commission has committed to the expansion of aquaculture in coming years. A host of EU Directives apply to Scotland’s marine environment – e.g. Habitats and Species; Birds; Water Framework; Bathing Waters; Urban Waste Water Treatment; Shellfish Waters; Nitrates; Hazardous Substances and Port Waste Reception Facilities. Decisions taken in Europe consequently have a significant impact on Scotland’s marine environment and coastal communities.

If you care about Scotland's seas please help by visiting the everyone website today.

Posted 22/05/04

Get Your Branch on the Web!

SSAC want to help more branches get onto the web to promote the sport and attract new members to your club. Although lots of branches already have fantastic websites - this scheme is aimed at SSAC clubs who haven't yet ventured into cyberspace.

Producing a webpage, like many other things in life, is simple when you know how - but can be a bit daunting if you don't know where to start. With this in mind SSAC are launching a pilot scheme aimed at getting your branch onto the web as painlessly as possible.

What's Involved?
In the pilot stage we are offering 5 SSAC branches the opportunity to develop a webpage. The page will be hosted on the SSAC site and have an address similar to You provide the words, a couple of pictures and a logo if you have one and we'll put them up on the web for you. We'll put in a counter too, so you can see how often the page has been visited. You chose your own colour scheme to fit in with your clubs personality.

Although we won't be able to update the page every week we will sort out a regular schedule so that your page stays relevant - and if there is a pressing change we'll do our best to oblige.

If your branch is interested in the scheme please contact.

Posted 22/05/04

The Old Slate Pier - Ballachulish

Access to the old slate pier at Ballachulish, just off the A82, has been sealed off by piles of stones topped with fence posts and wire. This site has been popular with divers for some time as it gives easy, sheltered access to Loch Leven.

Some new information has been gleaned on the slate pier situation. Travellers moved onto the slate pier recently and caused problems for the locals, consequently it has been decided to permanently fence off the site. The good news is that the locals are aware that the site is popular with divers and intend to continue to allow access for this purpose. A permanent fence is planned but there will be a locked gate. Divers will be able to obtain the key from one of the cottages close by. Full details will be published shortly.

Thanks to Kev Watson for the update.

Updated 30/04/2004
Posted 22/04/2004

Ullapool SAC website launch

Ullapool SAC have just launched their brand new website and it's teeming with loads of useful information about diving Loch Broom and the Summer Isles. Not only that but there are loads of suggestions for what to do if you're a non-diver or you get caught out by the weather. Check out the new site at

Posted 24/04/2004

Protecting our Marine Historic Environment: making the system work better

I am writing to alert Scottish divers to a public consultation regarding the future management and protection of the marine historic environment. It is relevant to divers in Scotland because it is likely that this consultation will guide any change in UK legislation that, amongst other things, regulates issues such as access to historic shipwreck sites. In this regard, I think it is important that the views of Scottish divers are heard.

The consultation runs between 26 March to 30 June. This consultation paper, on the Marine Historic Environment, has been published jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Welsh Assembly Government, the Scottish Executive and the Department for the Environment in Northern Ireland, and sets out the key issues and questions in relation to marine historic environment designation. Responses should be sent to DCMS.

The consultation will end on 30 June, following which all responses will be carefully read and evaluated. Copies of all responses will be sent to all the UK heritage agencies. A summary of the responses will be made available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website.

The Governments will consider the views and proposals received, and develop and take forward an action plan, which is likely to be published by the end of 2005. I hope that you will respond to the questions raised in the paper, which will ensure that your views are taken into account. or

Phil Robertson, NAS Scotland

Posted 22/04/2004

Sinking of the Scylla

Europes first artificial reef was created last weekend in Whitsand Bay near Plymouth. HMS Scylla, a decomissioned Royal Navy frigate was sunk just 800m from one of Devon's other famous wrecks the James Egan Lane. A large crowd gathered to watch the sinking including the Scylla's last Commanding Officer, Captain Mike Booth. The ship went down slowly, landing almost upright on the seabed at 25m. The clean up job in preparation for the sinking was exceptional, the National Marine Aquarium’s Communication Manager said "The submersion of Scylla took around 4 minutes in total leaving behind just smoke and bubbles".

The BBC caught the whole thing on film by strapping an underwater video camera to the bridge - the footage is available, along with surface shots of the sinking and recording of the first dive on the new wreck by the BBC's Alex Bushil. First reports describe her as a world class dive site, but BSAC members who were among the first recreational divers to visit the wreck warn that there are sharp edges were entry and exit holes have been cut in the hull.

The National Marine Aquarium team behind the project are now looking forward to the next stages of the reef and are eagerly awaiting the first marine life to make Scylla their new home.

The next major phase of the project will be the installation of the very latest technology. Using a series of underwater web cams placed on Scylla, visitors to the National Marine Aquarium and its website, will be able to view live images of Scylla.

In addition, the IT department of the Aquarium are currently preparing plans to enable live presentations from under the sea. Over the coming months, the National Marine Aquarium divers will be able to connect their underwater cameras to Scylla enabling 2-way communication and presentations.

The video footage and a gallery of photos are available on the BBC Devon website.

Posted 3/04/2004

Divers Recompression Survey

DAN Anonymous Survey of Divers Who Were Recompressed for DCI

If you were recompressed for decompression illness (DCI) within the past five years, the Divers Alert Network would like to hear from you. DAN have developed a short questionnaire for you complete online. You do not need to give your name. The survey results will be presented during the "Management of Mild DCI in Remote Locations" workshop at the annual meeting of the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) on May 24-25, 2004. Approximate time to complete the survey is 1-3 minutes.

The goals are to learn:

  • how often DCI relapses after recompression therapy;
  • what is the effect of flying after recompression on DCI relapse; and
  • how long divers should wait after recompression therapy before flying.

Visit the online questionnaire at the DAN website.

Posted 31/03/2004

Get Knotted!

If your theory on knots is anything like mine "if you can't tie knots, tie lots" you might find the Animated Knotboard useful. Developed by the Navy League of Canada it shows how to tie knots and even tells you what to use a particular knot for - now that's a good idea!

Posted 26/03/2004

Permanent Protection for Darwin Mounds

Conservationists have finally won the battle to protect the unique Darwin Mounds from damage caused by deep sea fishing. EU Fishery Ministers met on March 22nd in Brussels to agree a permanent ban on deepwater bottom trawling in the area. Helen McLachlan, Marine Policy Officer for World Wide Fund for Nature, Scotland said

"We welcome the protection of this incredible piece of Scottish marine life – a beautiful deepwater habitat rich in wildlife such as sponges, starfish, and deepwater fish. This is our equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef and it was vital that it was protected before it was destroyed forever by deep water trawling"

"Up close the Darwin Mounds, off the Scottish coast, are as beautiful and rich in marine life as the Great Barrier Reef in Australian waters. Thankfully these ancient and fragile coral mounds that have taken thousands of years to grow, have been saved from further destruction with the banning of deep water trawling. We welcome this decision as the first real commitment by Member States to reduce the impacts that fisheries have on our marine environment"

Only discovered in 1998, the Darwin Mounds are a unique collection of cold-water coral mounds (Lophelia pertusa) at a depth of 1000 metres and about 185km northwest of Scotland. They are made up of hundreds of coral reefs up to 5m (16ft) high and 100m (328 ft) wide covering an area of approximately 100 sq km. The reefs support a wide diversity of marine life, such as sponges, starfish, sea urchins, crabs and deep-sea fish including the blue ling, round-nosed grenadier and the orange roughy. Since their discovery WWF and others have highlighted the damaging impacts that deep-water trawlers were having on the corals with huge areas of the seabed being dredged and scarred.

BBC News Scotland - Scottish reef wins EU protection

Posted 24/03/2004

Looking for Inspiration?

John Nicholson would like to hear from any Inspiration or rebreather divers with a view to buddying up - you can contact him by

Posted 23/03/2004

Child & Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy Update

Over the past months Iona Anthony has been working hard to produce a Child & Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy in line with the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003. Iona presented her work at the Diving Officer's Conference in February and kindly agreed to provide a transcript of the questions and answers given at the conference, for the benefit of those who were unable to attend. Thanks to Iona for all her hard work. A copy of this information is available in pdf format on the downloads page.


The General Committee has now adopted a series of policies relating to the protection of children and vulnerable adults. These policies have been sent to all Branch Secretaries and are available both at HQ and on the SSAC website.

All voluntary organisations are being advised to introduce such policies ahead of the introduction of the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003. With the implementation of this act, in Spring 2004, organisations may be liable for prosecution if they engage volunteers who are named on a list that will be held and maintained by Scottish Ministers.

A number of important changes will take place as a result of the introduction of these policies.

  • Changes for New Instructors
    As soon as SSAC's registration with the CRBS is finalised (this will be taking place over the next few months), changes to both branch and regional instructor courses will take place. Both SSAC branch and regional instructor qualifications allow members to train children and vulnerable adults. As such, all members applying for branch/regional instructor course will be required to abide by the new system, regardless of whether their own branch has chosen to limit membership to adults.

    The new procedures will be as follows:
    • Anyone wishing to attend a BI/RI course must fill out an application form, two reference forms and a self-declaration form.
    • After attendance at the course, they must also complete an Enhanced Disclosure check. BI/RI qualifications will NOT be awarded until this check has taken place. This check will incur no cost to either member or branch.

Each part of these new procedures will be clearly explained to members applying for instructor courses at the appropriate time in the future. All forms come with a set of guidelines explaining how to fill them out, what the information will be used for, and why the information is required.

Lead Signator for Disclosure Scotland Checks
Tony Dorrington (Paisley SAC) has been appointed as the lead signator for the Scottish Sub Aqua Club. Tony has no links to either the General Committee or the National Diving Council and will work independently of them. He will be responsible for authorising all Disclosure Scotland checks, making a decision on the suitability of candidates based on the information he receives, and storing/ disposing of information in an appropriate manner. The manner in which checks are carried out are clearly laid down in the appropriate policies. It is important to note that only an authorised signatory will have access to confidential information and once a decision has been made, the contents of each check by law must be destroyed. Inappropriate disclosure of information obtained from a Disclosure Scotland check is a criminal offence.

All application, reference and self-declaration forms will be returned to Tony prior to course attendance.

Child and vulnerable adult officers
The General Committee has appointed Iona Anthony as SSAC's Child and Vulnerable adult officer. The role of this post is clearly laid out within the CVA policy.

In addition, it is recommended that any branch with child or vulnerable adult members appoints its own Child and Vulnerable adult officer and informs HQ of the appointment. This will allow for more effective communication and point to point contact between the organisation and different branches

Guidelines on Best Practice for working with children and vulnerable adults
Good practice guidelines for working with children and vulnerable adults are laid out in the CVA policy. All existing instructors should be made aware of them and Branch Diving Officers should ensure that their branches are working within these guidelines.

Medical Consent Forms
The parents/ guardians of any child or vulnerable adult must fill out a medical consent form. These forms are confidential and should be stored appropriately. Further details and guidance can be found in the Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and its appendices (G and H).

Accidents involving children and vulnerable adults
An incident form should be filled out for any accident involving a child or vulnerable adult. A notification of incident form should also be completed and sent to HQ for the attention of the Child and Vulnerable Adult Office.

Use of Photographs, Film or Video Recordings of Children or Vulnerable Adults
Anyone wishing to photograph or film children or vulnerable adults at a SSAC event, or within individual branches, must complete an application form and have it approved by the Child and Vulnerable Adult Officer prior to the event. It is the responsibility of all SSAC members to ensure, as far as possible, that unauthorised photographs are not used in any branch related publications without prior consent.

Specific Allegations of Abuse
The CVA policy clearly lays out what constitutes abuse, and how any reported allegations should be dealt with. All Branches should make themselves familiar with these procedures.

It is important to remember that SSAC is not alone in having to deal with such issues. All voluntary organisations are undergoing a similar process in order to provide a safer environment for children and vulnerable adults to enjoy their sports. The implementation of these policies will undoubtedly take time, both at an organisational and branch level. However individual branches should aim to adopt appropriate aspects of these policies as soon as possible.

SSAC Child Protection - Frequently Asked Questions

Our branch has no child or vulnerable adult members - why should I have to have a disclosure check?
The SSAC branch and regional instructor awards allow members to teach children and vulnerable adults from the age of 7 upwards. Whether or not your branch chooses to utilise this facility is its decision but there is currently no separate award specifically for teaching adults.

I've already had a disclosure check with another organisation - do I need another one?
Yes. Each organisation must do its own checks, as disclosure information is only valid for the day it was printed.

Will clubs in England and Ireland be covered?
The SSAC child protection policies are based in Scots Law as the organisation is primarily based in Scotland. Whilst small differences in legislation exist between Scotland, England and Ireland, it is unlikely to have a large affect on policies. Disclosure checks can still be carried out for people living outwith Scotland.

Why are disclosure checks not done before BI/RI courses are run? Is this not unfair on people who may fail them?
Disclosure checks will be carried out after attendance on BI/RI courses due to practical difficulties in carrying them out beforehand. It would not be feasible to check members beforehand as course dates etc may not be suitable and some members may end up in a situation where they were checked months or years before actually attending the course. This would lead to difficulties regarding the validity of the check.

However, any member who applies to attend an instructor course will soon be asked to fill out an application and self-declaration form. The self declaration form (which can be found in the CVA policy appendices) will ask members to declare relevant criminal convictions and make it clear that a disclosure check is now part of the pre-requisite for the instructor award. Members who give false information on their self-declaration form to get on the course will NOT have their course fees refunded, will be removed from the instructor program and, if appropriate, their case will be passed to the police for further investigation.

Wouldn't it be better for someone outwith the organisation to deal with Disclosure checks and just pass us a 'yes/no' answer.
That would be great but sadly there are no organisations that do this at present, certainly not free of charge. All voluntary organisations are undergoing similar changes; we are all in the same boat in this respect.

However, it is worth remembering that any information obtained from a disclosure check is confidential. It is a criminal offence to inappropriately disclose this information to 3rd parties. See SSAC policy section for information on the secure storage and destruction of such data.

I hope this answers some of the questions you may have. Any other questions may be sent to me via HQ or by email through the , and I'll try to post answers on the web ASAP.

Iona Anthony
SSAC Child Protection Officer

Posted 19/03/2004

Calling All Seasearchers!

This trip is now full, sorry.

Following the success of the recent Seasearch Observer Courses I'm organising a Seasearch expedition to Lochaline on the Sound of Mull on August 21st and 22nd. The expedition aims to;

  • Record marine life on the wreck of the SS Thesis (in co-operation with the Nautical Archaeology Society, Scotland) - 2 dives
  • Locate and record an area of maerl reported by local divers in the Sound of Mull - 2 dives
  • Have fun diving in one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland

About the Weekend
We will arrive at Lochaline on Friday 20th August, dive on Saturday and Sunday and leave late afternoon or early evening on Sunday. Diving is from a hardboat, either the MV Peregrine or MV Brendan provided by Lochaline Boat Charters and is weather & tide dependent. Accommodation is bunkhouse style, on a self catering basis at the Lochaline Dive Centre or local B&B (if you are travelling alone please be prepared to share a room). The Centre has good kitchen facilities but if you prefer not to cook there are alternatives - Jean's Burger Van, the Lochaline Hotel and the White House Restaurant cater for most tastes and are all within 5 minutes walk from the Dive Centre.

Calum Duncan, of the Marine Conservation Society & Seasearch, will be joining us for the weekend so if anyone needs Seasearch qualifying dives signed off this would be a good opportunity!

About You
You need to be a qualified diver before you can take part in Seasearch and you should have attended a Seasearch Observer or Surveyor Course. Minimum qualifications are BSAC Sports Diver, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, SAA Club Diver or CMAS 2 Star equivalent. You need to have done at least 20 dives of which 10 should have been in temperate seawater. You will also need to have a diving medical certificate or medical declaration and have 3rd party diving insurance. Seasearch is not a diver-training organisation and we insist that you do not dive beyond your previous level of experience on our dives.

The weekend costs £90 per diver and includes accommodation, boat dives, air (nitrox extra) and a £6.00 contribution to the Marine Conservation Society.

Posted 14/03/2004

Highlands and Islands Watersports Survey

HAVE YOU TAKEN PART IN DIVING, YACHTING, SAILING, CANOEING OR SURFING IN THE HIGHLANDS OR ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND OVER THE LAST YEAR? If so, hopefully you can help with this survey! The results will be reported by the end of March so your earliest reply would be much appreciated. Please access the link below:-

We are keen to elicit the views of members of watersports clubs to help identify recommendations for the development of appropriate facilities in the area for watersport activities and to establish the importance of this activity to the Highland economy.

The questionnaire is quite short and should only be filled in by people who have taken part in watersports such as diving, yachting and sailing, canoeing and surfing in the area within the last year.

The study findings will be reported in aggregate form only to Highland & Island Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage and VisitScotland, no comments will be attributed to individuals or clubs.

We would be very grateful if you could forward the link to as many relevant people as possible.
Many thanks for your help and if you have any queries please contact myself or Jake Schogler on 0131 478 7529

Joseph Kerr
Telephone Research Team Co-ordinator
0131 478 7543 (direct line)

Posted 05/03/2004

Sherwood/Genesis BCD Recall

Sherwood Scuba and Genesis Scuba have identified a potential problem that requires immediate attention in recently manufactured Sherwood/Genesis Scuba BCDs.

"The Power Inflator on certain model BCDs could, in rare circumstances, provide continuous inflation and expose the diver to potential injury if appropriate measures are not taken to operate the exhaust valve to control ascent. The condition is caused by a moulding variation in a seal within the inflator valve, and although this variation is not present in every power inflator, we are requiring that all BCDs manufactured within a limited time period be updated with new Power Inflator assemblies. If you believe your BCD may be included in the group of affected products, discontinue use for diving immediately and contact your authorised Sherwood or Genesis Dealer for a free upgrade or contact our toll free number for assitance.

Affected Buoyancy Compensators
Power Inflator valves within the specified serial number range having either black or gray coloured Power Inflator button. The updated Power Inflator valve assembly will have a blue coloured button. Buoyancy Compensator Power Inflators with a blue Power Inflator button are not affected by this notice.

Sherwood Scuba BCDs;

  • Silhouette, Magnum, Avid, Luna and Freedom models purchased after July 1st 2003 with a serial number between 90010001 and 90350167

Genesis Scuba BCDs;

  • Cayman, Cobra, Athena and Phantom models purchased after July 1st 2003 with a serial number between 90010001 and 90350167

Serial Number Location
See information panel on BCD entitled "Important Notice". Label may be inside or behind the BCD pocket.

If you have a Sherwood or Genesis BCD which is affected, please return it to your authorised dealer for a free Power Inflator valve replacement.

For more information visit or"

Posted 20/02/2004

Brighten up your mobile!

Front cover photographs used by BSAC's Dive magazine are available to download to your mobile phone! Images vary from the stunning colour photo of a Great Hammerhead on this months cover to moody mermaids and winsome wrecks.

Your phone needs to be WAP enabled, connected to a network in the UK, Republic of Ireland or Germany and capable of receiving colour images. All you need to do is text the code for the photo you want and the company send it direct to your phone - the cost or the photo (around £1.50) and the text message are added to your mobile phone bill. For more details visit the picturematrix website - the diving pictures are listed in the Sport section.

Posted 14/02/2004

SSAC Policy Publications

The General Committee has just released SSAC publications on the following policy issues;

  • Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy
  • Policy on the Secure Handling, Use, Storage and Retention of Disclosure Information
  • Policy on the Recruitment of Ex-Offenders
  • Consent Form for the Use of Photographs, Film or Video Recordings of Children or Vulnerable Adults
  • SSAC Medical Consent Form (Consent to Medical Treatment)

These documents are available in portable document format on the Downloads page. To download these documents you need the Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free of charge on the Adobe website.

Posted 13/02/2004

Diving Safety Survey

Dr David Collard is again asking divers to complete an online survey of diving safety and experience. This survey takes place annually so if you've completed one in the past you will probably receive a personal email prompting you to visit the website.

This is the third year of a three year follow up study to help better understand divers and their experiences....... This anonymous, confidential survey is more comprehensive medically than in previous years - BUT it uses "skip logic" and will automatically skip past questions that do not apply to you based upon your answers. Results will be compiled and completed as a group only. No individual identifying information will be released to anyone.

Please note some Netscape 7.0 users have reported problems with this survey. Please use Internet Explorer if you are having problems
David F Colvard, MD, Raleigh, NC, USA

Posted 07/02/2004

Innes McCartney at Glasgow University

Innes McCartney will be coming to Glasgow University on the evening of Thursday 11th March to give a talk on the U-boat wrecks around the British coast, and I would like to invite you all to come along. For those of you who don't already know him, Innes is a diver and an expert on U-boat wrecks, and is the author of several books on the subject. His talks are always fascinating and shouldn't be missed if you are even partly interested in wreck diving or our history.

The talk will be held Lecture Theatre 1 in the Boyd Orr building (on University Avenue), and tickets will cost £3.50 per person. Refreshments will be available afterwards in the University Union.

Anyone interested in coming along should contact me to reserve tickets, which can be paid for at the door. Directions to the university are available on request.

Rosanna Milligan, GUSAC President

Posted 21/01/2004

UK Turtle Code Website Launched

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is pleased to announce that the UK Turtle Code is now online at

The website is based on the hard-copy UK Turtle Code launched in 2002, and includes extra features such as a photo gallery and an online tutle sighting reporting form, as well as links to international marine turtle websites and the online TURTLE database of marine turtle sightings and strandings in the UK.

Posted 21/01/2004

Seasearch Observer Course

A Seasearch Observer Course will be held on Saturday February 28th at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh, starting at 9am and running through to about 5pm. The course will be run by Calum Duncan of the Marine Conservation Society. The course costs £20 per person (non-returnable I’m afraid) and places are limited so booking is essential. The course is classroom based and suitable for anyone with an interest in learning more about the marine environment. For qualified divers I’m planning two Seasearch Dives on Sunday 29th from North Berwick, weather permitting – the cost of dives will be around £35, you’ll need to organise your own kit/air.

There may be places on the boat for divers who attended the last Seasearch Observer course in November.

For more information or to book a place on the course/diveboat contact Alison at Forth SAC.

About Seasearch
Seasearch is a national project for volunteer sports divers who have an interest in what they're seeing under water, want to learn more and want to help protect the marine environment.

The main aim is to map out the various types of sea bed found in the near-shore zone, up to about 5 miles off the coast or 30m depth around the whole of the British Isles. In addition Seasearch are recording what lives in each area, establishing the richest sites for marine life, the sites where there are problems and sites which need protecting.

Seasearch Observer is a one-day course aimed at giving divers new to the project and new to marine recording a basic grounding. At the end of the course you should be able to complete the Seasearch Observation Form and take part in Seasearch Dives either on your own, with your club or on dives organised by Seasearch Partners.

During the course you'll learn about Seasearch - its aims, history and achievements, a basic introduction to the variety of marine life in UK waters, recognising and classifying marine habitats, position fixing, and how to fill in the Observation Form. The day concludes with a 'video dive' and an opportunity to fill in a form without even getting wet!

The course includes a splash proof course pack and everything you'll need to go ahead and get started. The tutors are all divers themselves and drawn from our partner organisations and keen Seasearchers.

During the course you'll get a Seasearch Qualification booklet. Once you have completed 5 for real (two on dives with a Tutor present) you can get signed up as a Seasearch Observer.

Visit the websites for more information about Seasearch and the Marine Conservation Society

Posted 09/01/2004

RNLI Fundraising Events

There are plenty of opportunities to raise money for the Lifeboats again this year. Why not try the Lifeboat Fitness Challenge? There are four distance targets based on the ranges of lifeboats, each with it’s own time scale;

  • Inshore: 50 miles in 1-2 months
  • Atlantic: 100 miles in 2-4 months
  • Mersey: 150 miles in 3-6 months
  • Severn: 250 miles in 4-8 months

To reach your chosen target you can cycle, swim, walk, run, row or a bit of everything. You can even clock up miles at the gym, so bad weather is no excuse not to keep going. All ages are welcome to take part. The entry fee is £5 per person. Everyone is asked to raise at least £50. You’ll receive a certificate on completion of your challenge and if you raise over £100 we’ll also give you a free T-shirt!

Among a host of other events there will also be places for RNLI fundraisers in the Great Scottish Run (Glasgow) and the Great Scottish Walk (Edinburgh)..... and if none of these take your fancy remember you can still help the RNLI by shopping online with Amazon, make sure you visit the RNLI website then click on the Amazon logo - 5% of the value of your purchases will go to the Lifeboats.

For more details of what's going on and how to register visit RNLI Events.

Posted 02/01/2004

Branch Instructor Courses in January

Two Branch Instructor courses are scheduled for January;

    • January 24th, to be held at Haddington Labour Club
    • January 31st, to be held at SSAC HQ in Glasgow

Usual booking arrangements apply so please contact HQ if you wish to attend either of these training events. Please see News Page for course pre-requisites.

Posted 18/12/2003

SSAC Branch Instructor Award

To be a worthwhile Instructor you should dive often for trainees to feel confident in your competence. You should also keep up to date with changes in training syllabus for all SSAC Diving grades and Instructor Awards. The good Instructor will also be aware of training methods of other Clubs and Diving Organisations.

Generally speaking, Instructors regardless of grade, have a number of qualities in common and it is these that that we would like to develop:

  • Enthusiasm for the sport and the desire to help others enjoy it safely.
  • An ability and a wish to continue learning; to actively seek a means of improving and developing their own theoretical and practical abilities.
  • Pride in the sport and the Club/Branch to which they belong.

Remember that training is the development of confidence and skill.

Tests themselves should only be a natural and logical conclusion of a progressive training programme and not the main objectives.

An extremely important role is that of Public Relations.

Trained Instructors are the people who represent the diving community at a number of national and international events.

On no account should you compromise the Club standards, as any faults may be perpetuated in later pupils.

A good Instructor is always self-critical and constantly improves his or her techniques by self-appraisal.

The NDC have been looking at the Branch Instructor level and have changed the out line of the assessments. There will now be a Lecture assessment followed by two one-hour pool assessments and two open water assessments. This will help build the trainee Instructors skills and confidence.

These are the prerequisites.

    1. Hold current membership of the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club.
    2. Have been a SSAC Sports Diver for at least eighteen months
    3. Hold current medical certificate.
    4. Be aged 18 or over (unless recommended by RC).
    5. Have at least 75 correctly logged dives.
    6. Have completed the Master Diver 'dive leader' endorsement.
    7. Have attended the Master Diver lectures on Safety and Emergency Procedures and Advanced Decompression Theory.
    8. Have the recommendation of the Branch Diving Officer (BDO) preferably endorsed by the Regional Coach (RC). Candidates recommended by "Acting" BDO's must have the endorsement of the Regional Coach.
    9. Complete the one-day SSAC Branch Instructor Course organised and set by the NDC.
    10. Complete a Lecture assessment under supervision of your Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I.
    11. Complete a practical pool session of at least two one-hour sessions under supervision of your Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I.
    12. Complete 2 practical open water sessions under supervision of your Diving Officer and Regional Coach or nominated R.I

Note: Items 1-8 must be completed before attending the BI Course.

Rab Ronaldson, NDO

Updated 12/11/2003