DIVESAIL Travel Mauritius Left Divers Behind?

A BRITISH couple on their dream scuba holiday have told of the moment they thought they had been left for dead after being abandoned in shark-infested waters for seven hours.

Julie Byrne and husband Jeff, both 52, were diving off the coast of Mauritius when they surfaced, realising their dive group had been left behind by the tour boat.

Jeff Bryne and wife Julie survived being stranded at sea for more than seven hours in shark infested waters

SWNS:South West News Service

Jeff Bryne and wife Julie survived being stranded at sea for more than seven hours in shark infested waters

The couple had been diving off the coast of Mauritius with Julie, pictured, the day before being stranded

SWNS:South West News Service

The couple had been diving off the coast of Mauritius with Julie, pictured, the day before being stranded

The abandoned group were rushed to a nearby club for medical treatment

SWNS:South West News Service

The abandoned group were rushed to a nearby club for medical treatment

The couple, with three other divers, were then pulled by a strong current that dragged them 12 miles from land into open water, the home of hammerhead and bull sharks.

Julie said she had been left traumatised after the harrowing experience.

She said: “We thought we were done for. That this was it. We’d perish in the water and our bodies would never be found.

“We saw helicopters flying overhead. We yelled and screamed but they couldn’t see us.

“When you’re in waters where you know sharks are common, your mind plays tricks.

“Each time a fish or leaf of seaweed brushed my ankle my heart would stop.

“We were constantly on the lookout for fins, but the waves were so high and the water so choppy that we couldn’t see a thing.”

The couple from Carlisle managed to link arms with the three other divers who had been left abandoned, with the group treading water for seven hours.

They were only saved when a passing boat spotted Jeff’s surface marker buoy, a bright marker that is used by divers to attract attention.

But the group were left with severe sunburn as well as struggling with dehydration and swollen tongues due to the salt water.

The couple were spotted when a passing boat saw the surface marker buoy

SWNS:South West News Service

The couple were spotted when a passing boat saw the surface marker buoy

Julie Bryne, 52, moments after being rescued 12 miles off the coast of Mauritius

SWNS:South West News Service

Julie Bryne, 52, moments after being rescued 12 miles off the coast of Mauritius

Julie has not been in the water since the horrific incident

SWNS:South West News Service

Julie has not been in the water since the horrific incident

Julie, pictured diving the day before the harrowing experience, said the group had thought they were going to die

SWNS:South West News Service

Julie, pictured diving the day before the harrowing experience, said the group had thought they were going to die

Julie, a mum of two, now also suffers PTSD.

The couple had travelled to the area in the hope of seeing coral, parrot fish, lobsters and barracudas.

Booking with the dive company DiveSail Travel through their hotel, the couple set out for a dive.

But they had no idea that earlier that morning, a boat had capsized in rough seas not far from the dive site, killing a baby and a child.

The conditions also plagued the dive trip, with the dive leader signalling for the group to surface due to choppy waters and low visibility just half an hour into their second dive.

But when the divers surfaced, they realised they had been left abandoned in the water.

Julie said: “Panic immediately set in, and some of the younger members of the group freaked out.

“The dive leader told everyone to remain calm and started blowing his whistle saying the boat would hear them and come back.

“But we quickly realised no one could hear us and the boat wasn’t coming back to get us.”

The group, who were unable to swim ashore due to the strong currents, were forced to struggle with tropical storms, blazing heat and eight foot waves.

She said she never looked down but one of the divers, a German girl was continuously peering into the water.

She said: “I knew what she was searching for. We all did.

“Nobody mentioned the ‘S word’, but we were all thinking about it.”

On a neighbouring island, La Reunion, swimming and surfing are banned because of fear of shark attacks – 18 attacks and seven deaths since 2011.

The dive company alerted the Coastguard who launched a search and rescue operation involving 22 boats, two helicopters, and a plane.

One of the rescue party signalling to a passing helicopter after the group was picked up after being left in the water for seven hours

SWNS:South West News Service

One of the rescue party signalling to a passing helicopter after the group was picked up after being left in the water for seven hours

Julie and Jeff Bryne posing at their resort in Mauritius, told each other they loved each other

SWNS:South West News Service

Julie and Jeff Bryne posing at their resort in Mauritius, told each other they loved each other when they thought they were going to die

The view from the couple's hotel, with the couple having booked the trip through their hotel

SWNS:South West News Service

The view from the couple’s hotel, with the couple having booked the trip through their hotel

Divers on their way to the site with the dive company now suspended indefinitely

SWNS:South West News Service

Divers on their way to the site with the dive company now suspended indefinitely

Julie said: “Our tongues started swelling, white and hard, cracking with too much salt water.

“Jeff kept his mask on but his face around it was burned to a crisp.

“I wanted to cry. I was so tired and frightened. It was devastating to think we were all going to die.

“Jeff, told me to stay strong and have hope but when the helicopter passed us by I was on the verge of breaking down.

“I told Jeff I loved him and he said he loved me.”

The group were eventually found and taken to a nearby yacht club for medical attention.

Julie said: “Everyone was crying at first, then hugging then laughing.

“I was hysterical.”

She has not been in the water since but her husband Jeff said he would not let one bad experience ruin his love of diving.

Jeff pictured at the couple's resort before they were left stranded in shark-infested waters

SWNS:South West News Service

Jeff pictured at the couple’s resort before they were left stranded in shark-infested waters

Helicopter searching for the lost divers in the shark infested waters

SWNS:South West News Service

Helicopter searching for the lost divers in the shark infested waters with the group having desperately tried to get the attention of search parties

The couple from Carlisle were on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday

SWNS:South West News Service

The couple from Carlisle were on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday

Topographical map of Coin de Mire, the area in which a couple were stranded in shark infested waters

SWNS:South West News Service

A topographical map of Coin de Mire, the area in which a couple were stranded in shark infested waters

Stephane de Senneville, director of DIVESAIL Travel, the company that contracts out trips to a third party scuba company, DiveSail Consultants LTD said: “The mistake was the decision made by the dive master, Christof Nadaud, who chose to swim away from the protection of the cove and into sharp currents which dragged them out to sea.

“Although everyone came out alive and no one was hurt – the end result was positive.”

An investigation was conducted by the Mauritius Scuba Diving Association (MSDA) who found the company negligent and DiveSail Travel has since had their license suspended indefinitely.

“Hugues Vitry the president of the technical Commission of the MSDA said: “The actions of the skipper and the dive master were negligent.

“Together they put the lives of the divers at considerable risk.”



Papua New Guinea

Travelling in PNG can be challenging. With almost no tourism infrastructure and limited information available in books and on websites, it can feel like you’re stepping into the great unknown. But this is exactly why travellers find this country so compelling. Nothing is contrived for tourists and every experience is authentic – even the main island of Bougainville is a largely DIY travel experience. The striking natural beauty and myriad complex cultures offer some riveting and truly life-affirming experiences. The island of New Guinea, of which Papua New Guinea is the eastern part, is only one-ninth as big as Australia, yet it has just as many mammal species, and more kinds of birds and frogs. PNG is Australia’s biological mirror-world. Both places share a common history going back tens of millions of years, but Australia is flat and has dried out, while PNG is wet and has become mountainous. As a result, Australian kangaroos bound across the plains, while in PNG they climb in the rainforest canopy.

For a glimpse into PNG’s fascinating tribal cultures, the Highlands is where you should head (the town of Tari is a good place to see traditional Huli wigmen), while the Central, Oro & Milne Bay Provinces are home to gorgeous reefs and historic wartime sites – including the country’s foremost attraction, the Kokoda Track. Also part of these eastern provinces, and about as far off the beaten track as you can get, the D’Entrecasteaux Islands are like the land that time forgot, mountainous, jungly and totally undeveloped. The gritty capital Port Moresby, on the other hand, is big and sprawling and even a bit intimidating until you get under its skin and see past the bad press.

PNG is one of earth’s megadiverse regions, and it owes much of its diversity to its topography. The mountainous terrain has spawned diversity in two ways: isolated mountain ranges are often home to unique fauna and flora found nowhere else, while within any one mountain range you will find different species as you go higher. In the lowlands are jungles whose trees are not that different from those of Southeast Asia. Yet the animals are often startlingly different – cassowaries instead of tapirs, and marsupial cuscus instead of monkeys.

The greatest diversity of animal life occurs at around 1500m above sea level. The ancestors of many of the marsupials found in these forests were derived from Australia some five million years ago. As Australia dried out they vanished from that continent, but they continued to thrive and evolve in New Guinea, producing a highly distinctive fauna. Birds of paradise and bowerbirds also abound there, and the forest has many trees typical of the forests of ancient Gondwana. As you go higher the forests get mossier and the air colder. By the time you have reached 3000m above sea level the forests are stunted and wreathed in epiphytes. It’s a formation known as elfin woodland, and in it one finds many bright honeyeaters, native rodents and some unique relics of prehistory, such as the giant long-beaked echidna. Above the elfin woodland the trees drop out, and a wonderland of alpine grassland and herbfield dominates, where wallabies and tiny birds, like the alpine robin, can often be seen. It is a place where snow can fall and where early morning ice coats the puddles.

Ready to go?

These tours & activities make it easy:

Stingray City on Grand Cayman

Stingray City is a place in the sea where the stingrays gather to greet you…  for lunch!  No, you’re not the one that’s on the menu, these Southern Stingrays aren’t all Hannibal Lecter like that!  Unlike the Tampa Bay Rays, these rays are mostly harmless; however, they do still have a barb on their tail that one needs to be cognizant of when handling these seemingly docile creatures.  Where is this Stingray City where you can swim with and handle so many Southern Stingrays?  -In the North Sound of Grand Cayman island of course.  Everybody and their brother that’s ever been to the Cayman Islands or on any cruise to Grand Cayman, knows about this fun excursion to pet the rays, now you do too…

Next time you see the port of Georgetown, Grand Cayman on your cruise itinerary or you’re on the island for any other reason and want to get up and close with some puppy like sea life, ask a dive operator to take you over to Stingray City and enjoy!  The rays are cute, kind of, at least the front part of them is, not the sharp barb thingy at the base of their tail though.  I’ve heard some stories from Jamaican fishermen that have been stung in the foot by a ray and it’s supposedly no joke!  Lots of pain and irritation involved.  Make sure to do that ‘Stingray Shuffle‘ whenever you’re walking on the bottom of the sea and make sure to check out some of the following videos that were shot with a very inexpensive GoPro that I ordered on Black Friday on Amazon for $89 USD.  ScubaDo’s brand new SeaLife Micro 2.0 that he got for Christmas, puked out on a dive just prior to this one.  -More on that POS later.

The dive operator that we chose to take us on this fantastic one tank dive was DiveTech.  They are our current favorite dive operator on the island.  DiveTech offers all Scubapro rental gear and the staff are all friendly consummate professionals.  An extra big thanks to Marie, Menno, Steve T., Tony, Drew, Glen and Jo!

[email protected]

 

Scuba in Cuba! Non-stop flights to Havana from the USA

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First nonstop flights and frequencies to Havana. By the Cuba Journal

The above new flights are regular scheduled flights operated under a new agreement between the U.S. and Cuba. Previously, all flights from the U.S. to Cuba were considered “charter” flights. The charter flights have permission to continue flying but may decide to suspend service due to price competition.

Approvals for regular scheduled flights and routes to Cuba were separated by city. The first batch to receive approval were the non-Havana flights, the first of which was last month’s JetBlue flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Santa Clara.

Fares to Havana range from $59 to several hundred dollars.

For scheduled flights to and from each of the nine non-Havana international airports in Cuba, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has allocated up to 10 daily round-trip frequencies at each airport, for a total of 90 daily flights. Including Havana, the total number of daily flights between the U.S. and Cuba can be 110.

Here are the non-Havana airlines and routes.

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Schedule of Approved Flight Routes to Cuba

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