Azure Window reborn as the hottest dive site in the Mediterranean

Azure Window reborn as the hottest dive site in the Mediterranean

Divers claim that the collapse of the famous Azure Window sea arch, is one of the best things that has happened to Gozo.  It now has a new role in attracting tourists, under water.  As the first pictures emerge about it’s new life, taken by the divers visiting the area where the limestone formation once stood.  With marine life already starting to take over, we now see massive chunks of rock, cracked, sharp-edged and strewn accross the floor of the Mediterranean.

The island of Gozo, part of the Maltese archipelago, was struck by grief when the Azure Window was lost to the sea due to heavy storms back in March.  They feared that the dissapearence of the Tieqa tad-Dwejra, the arch, might hurt tourism on Gozo.  It had always been an essential stop for travellers to the island and it had been featured in numerous films and TV shows, including Game of Thrones.  It graced countless travel guides and -brochures.  But, scuba diving enthousiasts say the opposite is true.

“It’s a loss to those who live above the surface, but for those who dive it’s one of the best things that has happened to Gozo,” said Brendan O’Brien, who explored the site in June.

Konrad Baar, from Family Diving Gozo, described it as “now more attractive for the divers than before”.

“The big white rocks with fresh cracks and brittle structure look really impressive,” he said. “Without a marker these rocks look like small pieces but they are really big. The whole structure is quite complicated with the canyons and narrow passages.

“The place can be explored for a long time during a few dives. The depth range is also quite wide [five to 52 metres] so all kind of divers with different certificates should be satisfied.”

Due to the ebb and flow of the Mediterranean it is likely that the appearance of the rocks will quickly change, so divers should visit soon, he warns.  “In the next few months the surface of the rocks will be covered and everything will become green. Most probably the sharp edges will disappear under a layer of new life, so the divers should hurry up to see this place as it is now.”

The Maltese tourist board however, said that divers should only explore the site with registered, local diving clubs.

Despite the disappearance of the Azure Window, sightseeing busses are still stopping at Dwerja Bay, which leads to one-star reviews of the arch.  But there is much more to the island then the Azure window, said the Maltese tourist board atr the time of the collapse.  Gozo also has the Ggantija Temples, the oldest in the world, its stunning midieval Citadel, an amazing coastline, which includes one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and it’s superb gastronomy.

If you own a property on the island and you want to rent it out to travellers around the world, then advertising the property on Rental Mondo is the way tot go.  For a small yearly fee you can list your holiday home rental, get it translated in 6 languages for free and attrackt potential guests from all over the world.

 

 

What if you get bitten by a great white shark?

Posted on September 28, 2017  in People
Rodney-Fox

If you got severely bitten by a great white shark, you would probably never dive again.  But for Rodney Fox the attack had a totally different outcome.  For him it was the beginning of a new era and he’s now working hard for their conservation and introduced modern cage diving to the world.

At the time he was bitten by a great white shark, he was only 23 years old.  It was in 1964, during the South Australia Spear Fishing Championship where he had to defend his title.  During the competition where he was trying to retain the title, he dived after a large grouper into the deep.  At that moment he feld an immnese force smashing into his side.

In his book ‘Sharks, the sea and me’, he recalls the incident as follows; “I thought I’d been hit by a train, my chest was clamped, like in a vice. I was a bone in a dog’s mouth.”

Acting on adrenaline and not thinking, he jabbed his fingers in the sharks’ eyes while he was getting propelled sideways in a violent manner.  The shark released his grip and Rodney finned hard to get to the surface, because he was to shocked about what happened, he had no fear.  But when he looked down, he saw a gaping mouth of teeth coming towards him.

Rodney reacted by kicking with his foot and the shark swerved and dived.  The shark, who had swallowed Rodney’s catch, found himself towed down by the line around his waist attached to the box containing his catch.  He then thought he was going to drown, when the shark chewed, parting the line and releasing him.  As Rodney recalls, he drifted to the surface “Like a leaf” as he was almost sliced in two on his left.

Tender-Boat-going-back-to-Princess-II-from-Neptune-Islands

According to the genuinly shocking photos taken before his operation there was no doubt about the severeniss of his wounds.  462 stitches were needed to sew him back together, he had a collapsed lung, a ruptured spleen and several shattered ribs.  In his wrist, a tooth!

However, what happened next is what makes this story extraordinair.  To get over his fear, he wanted to understand the shark and why he attacked.  But back then  there was no way tot get that close to a shark safely.  Untill one day he visited the Adelaide Zoo and noticed the lions being fed and it hit him.  What if we reversed that and put humans in a cage?

That is how the survivor of the worst shark attack in Australian history invented cage diving.  It’s also the reason why the then insurance salesman got visits from documentary makers and scientists and why in 1973 Steven Spielberg called him for “Jaws”.  Rodney’s son, Andrew Fox remembers: “It was like having a lot of astronouts at your house.  For years afterwards, more people had gone into space than had swum with great whites”.

He was only 7 years old when he started joining his father on his expeditions and he has been diving with sharks fo over 40 years now.  Andrew is now in charge of Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions, the world’s only only great white ocean-floor dive trip organiser.  And at the most sharky spot in Australia, the Neptune Islands in the Southern Ocean no less.

“I lean on those early days to give the atmosphere for the trips,” Andrew says. “These aren’t just tours like the dayboats. We’re on a multi-day expedition with a group of adventurers, where we can’t guarantee what will happen, to achieve something fantastic. We’re not about selling T-shirts.”

What is so facinating about great whites?  Fear!  We’ve allready caged up the land predators, but can’t tame great whites.  They were there before the dinosours and confront us with what Jaws author Peter Benchley called “the visceral fear of being eaten”.

After-ocean-floor-dive

It’s what made Jaws a blockbuster, what is part of the mystique of shark diving and made galeophobea (the irrational fear of sharks) the norm.  Even though an elephant kills more people, every shark attack – fatal or not – becomes world news.

No one thinks it’s OK to poke a lion with a stick through the bars. We have a responsibility not to make this a circus act. – Andrew Fox

Want to enjoy the ultimate goal of cage diving with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions on a regular basis?  You might want to move to Southern Australia, here, every cage diving trip undertakes scientific research, and instead of meat, it uses waste tuna by-product to attract sharks to the dive boat while a seal colony keeps great whites at the Neptunes year-round.  However, moving house is a great step, so I recommend using this moving checklist to get you going.

In my humble opinion, the best conservation message there is is seeing sharks first-hand in there natural habitat.  Hanging 80 feet underwater in a small cage in the middle of a group of 16-foot great whites confronts you with suppressed fears.  Struck by how curious they are, their huge black pupil and their brilliant hydrodynamics, it feels like a privilege to hang here and observe a perfectly evolved apex predator in its own environment.