Safety at Sea

"Don't learn safety by accident." - Jerry Smith
The artwork which was used by the British High Commission for the Sea Safety Campaign brochures and presentation

Sea Safety Campaign

Sea safety has always been a top priority for us at Scuba Do Zanzibar. Through our close relationship with the British High Commission in Tanzania, and in particular the consular section; we shared our concerns regarding the need for an awareness campaign. This campaign focused on the importance of individuals to take responsibility to ensure any vessel they board has adequate safety equipment and procedures in place. Whether boarding a passenger ferry or tourism boat, there must be lifejackets, communication equipment, preferably two engines incase one fails, first aid equipment,etc. The British High Commission sponsored the Sea Safe Campaign by producing a video, presentation and brocures to be distributed and the campaign was launched onboard the HMS Sutherland on 26th October 2012. This campaign later merged into the Know the Ropes campaign.

Photo taking by helicopter pilot involved in the rescue of Scuba Do Zanzibar's boat approaching the survivors floating in the wreckage.

Spice Islander Ferry Disaster

On this sad day we were woken up by a phone call at two thirty in the morning alerting us that there was a problem at sea. We gathered up our available crew and launched two boats within half an hour of receiving the alert call. The remaining team members stayed behind and established a communication center in the dive base between all the boats that had joined the rescue effort.

Just before first light our friends from Whirlwind aviation called the dive base and told us they were joining the search and rescue effort and were asking for directions to start searching as their helicopter would be over them in the next 10 minutes. Just as it was getting light, a message was received that a helicopter was joining in on the search was received by the volunteer search and rescue boats out to sea. The boats heard the helicopter long before they saw it flying a search pattern between Pemba and Zanzibar and knew it had found survivors when it was hovering around like a dragonfly flashing its lights.

At the end of the day we were able to help many survivors out of the water and on to the waiting ferries and we are proud of our crews effort and bravery. We also remember the many who didn’t survive on that sad day.

BBC News Coverage
  • Scuba Do Zanzibar investigating the sunken longliner vessel image of bow floating just above the surface of the ocean
  • Underwater picture of the floatin wreck
  • Underwater picture of a hole in the portside of the floating shipwreck
  • Image shows a shark which was circling the wreck and later identified as a Dusky Shark by South African shark experts.

Floating Wreck Investigation

Six months after the Spice Islander ferry went down in the Pemba Channel, we received a call from a neighbouring fishing community claiming the boat had resurfaced. While knowing that would not be possible, there was partially sunken vessel floating in the channel very near to the location where the Spice Islander went down. After discussions with our Ports Authority, they requested our assistance at the location of the shipwreck.

The location was quite far offshore and we found the wreckage of a longline Chinese fishing vessel. Despite the fishermen warning us of sharks in the water circling the wreck, we entered the water in order to photograph the ship's identification number and have a further look. After all, as divers we love sharks and know their importance as the apex predators in our oceans! We did enjoy seeing one rather large shark which South African shark experts identified as a Dusky Shark (in the photo above).

While this investigation was costly in terms of fuel, it was beneficial to our team who were part of the rescue and lifesaving efforts during the ferry disaster to get closure and reassure the fisherman that the Spice Islander had not resurfaced.

Scuba Do Zanzibar's Instructor Haji dressed in medical scrubs operating the hyperbaric chamber while we were treating an injured diver

Assisting with Hyperbaric Chamber Treatments

Our crew are not only trained with operating the hyperbaric chamber, but are quick to volunteer to assist injured divers, whether local fishermen or recreational divers. The hyperbaric chamber in Zanzibar is the only chamber in Tanzania as well as the whole of East Africa, with the exception of a Kenyan Navy Chamber in Mombasa.

  • Screen capture image of BGP Explorer first spotted off Pemba Island towing eight kilometer streamers
  • BGP Explorer in background together with AZAM Sealink Passenger Ferry enroute to Pemba and tourism jetski in forground
  • Screenshot showing details of BGP Explorer Seismic Survey Vessel
  • Monitoring seismic survey boat movements in relation to the continuously changing shooting plan

Tracking Seismic Survey Vessels

Zanzibar kicked off a seismic oil exploration exercise (see news article link below) operated by RAKGAS and the BGP Explorer. While this was launched as a deep-water survey, their transect lines came very close to shore and passed over numerous scuba diving sites in water as shallow is 14m depth. After a couple incidents involving conflicts between the BGP Explorer and tourism activities, an urgent stakeholder meeting was called in which the operator claimed they were unaware of tourism activities in the area around Zanzibar.

As activists for safety of our guests and our crew, we researched the safe distances for divers to be from seismic activity. Our instructor and dive medic spent the better part of this month-long exercise following the vessels and alerting all tourism operators in the areas they were planning to be shooting. It was a very challenging excercise as there were multiple break downs in communication between the vessel and the manager of the operation and often the shooting plans would change with no notice. Fortunately, no one was injured and hopefully there were many lessons learned on behalf of the operator during this exercise.

Read Daily News Article

Dive Safety Week

Scuba Do Zanzibar have been promoting safe diving practices and trying to improve safety in our region since we started our operations in Zanzibar. Even amongst dive professionals, there is a lack of understanding when it comes to recognising signs and symptoms of dive related injuries. This course has been designed to share our passion for dive safety and was first held in October school holidays 2017, which we hope will become an annual program. The course is available anytime when requested.

The dive safety week curriculum includes the following topics with an optional addon of becoming and Emergency First Response Instructor. Must be a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent to meet the prerequisite.

  • Emergency First Responder: Become a certified Emergency First Responder covering the topics of Primary and Secondary Care.
  • PADI Rescue Diver: Become a certified PADI Rescue Diver! By completing the e-Learning for the course in advance, you will get straight into the action of practicing the skills to become a Rescue Diver.
  • Dive Accident Management Training: The materials presented are not covered in the PADI cirriculum but assist even the novice diver in understanding a bit more about DCI, and how it can happen even when diving within your RDP limits. We cover more detail of recognising signs and symptoms as well as how to respond to a dive accident or injured diver in our area or while travelling abroad.
  • Hyperbaric Chamber Orientation: An overview of the procedure of treating an injured diver, how the hyperbaric chamber works and an overall orienation to the hyperbaric chamber.
About Scuba Do Zanzibar

Please let us know if you have any special requests or need further assistance.

Phone/Whatsapp: +255 (0)777 417 157

Email: do-scuba@scuba-do-zanzibar.com

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