CCR Diver Sonia Rowley Wins Sir David Attenborough Award

Systematics Association, Linnean Society of London, Sonia Rowley, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing CompanyIn May 1937 the Systematics Association was founded as the "Committee on Systematics in Relation to General Biology". The idea was to provide a forum to discuss theoretical and practical problems of taxonomy.

Today the Systematics Association furthers all aspects of Systematic biology. This includes organising conferences, training courses and awarding grants to support systematics research.

Sonia Rowley, Robert Whitton, ccr diver, This Girl Can Dive, Poseidon rebreathers, David Attenborough Award, Rosemary Lunn, Roz Lunn, Gorgonian Corals, Pakin Atoll, Micronesia, Richard Pyle , Linnean Society of London, The Underwater Marketing Company, Systematics Association, University of Hawaii, Dave Pence,
Photo Credit: Robert Whitton

In the last few days it has been confirmed that Dr Sonia J Rowley, a deep CCR diver and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Hawaii has received the prestigious Sir David Attenborough Award for Fieldwork from the Systematics Association and the Linnean Society of London.

Sonia is only the second person to receive this award. It was given for her for her work during the 2015 Pohnpei Expedition. Her report was entitled the "Exploration and Systematics of Twilight Reef Gorgonian Corals at Pakin Atoll, Micronesia."

Other members of the 2015 diving expedition team were Brian Greene and Dr Richard Pyle.

"I am delighted to have received such a prestigious award, and that we can continue to implement advances in rebreather technology in research that not only reveals new discoveries to science, but also assists local community marine resource conservation [in low-lying atolls being perhaps the most vulnerable to sea level change."

Congratulations Sonia!

The Underwater Marketing Company's 2014!

Sport Diver Magazine, Mark Evans, Apeks Aqua Lung, Shearwater Research, Suunto Dive Computers, TEKDiveUSA, Randy Thornton, Light Monkey, Tom Mount, Diving Awards, Rebreather Forum 3, RF3, Dr Richard D Vann, Dr Neal W Pollock, Dr Petar J Denoble, Girls on Gas, Rebreather divers, Inner Space, Divetech, Nancy Easterbrook, James Roberton, Poseidon Rebreathers, Steve Newman, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, diving Cayman Islands, Scuba Radio, Greg Holt, XRay Mag, X-Ray Magazine, Anglesey ScubaFest, EUROTEK, advanced and technical diving conference, The ICC, Dive Rite, DEMA Show, The Underwater Marketing Company, New Product Showcase

2014 was a fantastic year for The Underwater Marketing Company. Rosemary E Lunn (Roz) regularly contributes to a number of diving publications, including Sport Diver Magazine and X-Ray Magazine. Getting your work printed is always special. But nothing is quite so thrilling as being featured on the front cover.

The first half of the year was taken up consulting on and establishing an inaugural technical diving event in North America; TEKDiveUSA. Roz and the Thorntons were supported and assisted by some amazing and talented Smurfs, and the international team of speakers, sponsors and exhibitors weren't bad either. A favourite memory was being grabbed by gleeful Tom Mount who was chuffed to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

From Miami Roz flew straight to Grand Cayman to work Divetech's Inner Space. If every dive centre was as well run as Nancy Easterbook's establishment, the diving industry would be in great shape. This week long event attracts rebreather divers from all over the world for a number of reasons, including the plethora of underwater attractions this tropical island offers. The highlight of Inner Space was being made an ambassador for Poseidon Rebreathers, a fun time machine with the ability to do some serious diving.

The summer saw the publication of the long awaited Rebreather Forum 3 Proceedings. (Click the link to get your free copy of this invaluable resource from this 2012 international safety symposium). Anyone involved with or diving rebreathers ought to read it.We attend a number of scuba shows and events throughout the World. In the USA Roz often bumps into Greg the Divemaster from Scuba Radio. This online radio show has been broadcast for 17 years. It is always good to be able to contribute to this programme.

In August, 200 divers descended on North Wales for The Anglesey ScubaFest. Diving, snorkelling, discover scuba, freediving clinics, kit try dives, bands, beach combing, beverages and bonne amid. £100 was raised for local charities and a good time was had by all.Time for another fab event. In September 500 divers, industry movers and shakers, explorers, experts and specialist exhibitors from all over the globe headed for the ICC in Birmingham. EUROTEK Advanced Diving Conference, the major European advanced and tech diving conference turned 4 this year! Our gorgeous gala awards dinner was even more glittering and we raised £4,000 for the Rubicon Foundation, thanks to the generosity of divers and sponsors alike.

It only seemed days later that it was DEMA Show in Las Vegas. Roz worked with Dive Rite on the launch of their new LX 20 Primary handheld torch. It was great to help produce a sexy display iin the New Products Showcase.So that is glimpse of some of the highlights of 2014 - a year of scuba event management, journalism and PR. Here is to a great 2015!

A 6 Pence Dive and Killing Ghosts in Swanage

Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Lisa Shafe, St Albans BSAC, Poseidon Rebreathers, diving Swanage, SS Kyarra, Shearwater Petrel, O'Three drysuits, AP Diving
Predive checks Image Credit: Mike Thomas

It was the perfect place to dive. The obvious choice. Back in 1992, my debut sea dive was underneath Dorset's Swanage Pier as I cautiously made my first ever night dive. A day later my first ever wreck dive was out of Swanage. So when a couple of friends hatched a plan to take me on my first UK sea dive on my Poseidon rebreather; the ideal solution was of course Swanage!

Swanage is actually quite useful as a 'first sea dive'. You can take a dip beneath the magnificent Victorian Pier to ensure your weighting and buoyancy are correct, before doing something more adventurous. We duly walked down the wide stone steps and did pre dive checks before gingerly stepping over, on and around the submerged rocks.

Experience is a good teacher. You quickly learn how to minimise risk to yourself and your kit. Walking into deeper water at Swanage is not that easy and there is a high chance you can fall over and hurt yourself or damage your equipment. As soon as we could, we gently dropped onto our knees and used 'pull and glide' techniques to get us into deeper water, where we could make a proper descent beneath the pier.

Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Poseidon Rebreathers, James Roberton, Steve Newman, Lisa Shafe, diving Swanage, Adam Wood, SSI Poseidon Training,
'Pull and glide' into deeper water Image Credit: Mike Thomas

After a quick non-descent (yes please I do need another 2 kilos), we gently dropped beneath the Pier. It looked to me as though the seabed was covered in tossed Marks & Spencer salad being gently washed about by the current. There was a good smattering of Sea Lettuce wafting in the water. I played with my buoyancy whilst watching a feisty Velvet Crab demand that I take it on. One of the things I really love about my Poseidon is how quickly I can get to grips with my buoyancy and get a reasonable position in the water. I have found that this skill is not so intuitive on other units.

Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company,  Lisa Shafe, St Albans BSAC, Divers Down, Swanage Pier, scuba diving in Swanage, rebreather divers, Poseidon Rebreathers, AP Diving, James Roberton, Steve Newman
Heading for the pier Image Credit: Mike Thomas

I glanced over to Lisa to check she was ok, to find her picking up a disc from the seabed. I inspected her outstretched palm closely. Tuppence. And then I spotted one too. We cruised the seabed, giggling as we found more coins. It was a useful drill because we were diving 3 metres / 10 foot. If you can achieve and maintain neutral buoyancy here, then you are in good shape for deeper dives. All too soon it is time to turn for home and head back. I surfaced triumphant gleefully clutching three tuppences. Treasure worth 6 pence.

After a reasonable surface interval debriefing, dive planning and enjoying ice-cream, we jump on a boat to head out to the SS Kyarra. Time to kill some ghosts.

Why the "ghost killing"? There are certain dives that are forever seared into your soul for good, or not so good reasons. My first dive after I had qualified as a diver was a "not so good dive". I did my four PADI Open Water dives in Stoney Cove, and a few weeks later my five PADI Open Water Advanced dives out of Swanage.

Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Poseidon Rebreathers, The Underwater Marketing Company, Lisa Shafe, James Roberton, Jared Hires, Dive Rite Transpac XT, O'Three Drysuits, Swanage Pier, Divers Down, shore diving in the UK, St Albans BSAC, AP Diving, scuba diving, rebreather diving
Surfacing! Image Credit: Mike Thomas

After listening to some very bad advice from an instructor, and not realising at the time it was; my first ever dive, as a qualified diver, was the SS Kyarra. She is considered a classic British wreck dive and she can be an awesome dive. The Kyarra is probably one of the most dived wrecks in the UK because she is so accessible from Swanage, a mere 20 minute boat ride. She was a twin-masted schooner-rigged steamer, built in the Clyde (Scotland) in 1903 and was torpedoed a mere 15 years later on 26th May 1918 by the German submarine UB-57. Today she lies in 30 metres / 100 foot.

30 metres temperate water diving off the UK south coast is a completely different animal to 30 metres blue water diving in Grand Cayman or Egypt. It can be as black as your hat down there, or the wreck can benefit from good ambient light. I have dived it in various light levels. And the wreck can be swept by quite strong currents. It is certainly not the place for brand new qualified divers to go exploring on their own.

Rosemary  E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Poseidon rebreathers, James Roberton, Lisa Shafe, Steve Newman, Swanage diving, south coast diving, O'Three drysuits, Hollis F2 fins,
Heading Home Image Credit: Mike Thomas

My 10th ever dive was with someone vastly more experienced than I. He had 14 dives. And it was back in the day when octopus' were not mandatory kit. Between us we had a primary regulator each. And then we shared a watch, a depth gauge and the biggest knife we could lay our hands on. Long story short, after a 25 minute bottom time at 30 metres, we were off the dive tables with decompression obligations to fulfil. We didn't. Instead we made a very fast uncontrolled ascent from seabed to surface in a matter of seconds. To this day I still do not know why either of us didn't embolise or get decompression sickness. We were very very lucky.

Twenty two years later, not quite to the day, here I am jumping on the Kyarra with my Poseidon. Time to kill the ghost of that dive. It took ages to get down the shot. You can't descent quite as fast on a rebreather as you can on scuba. The viz was a tad milky and I wondered just how dark it would be on the wreck. We got lucky! The wreck was bathed in glorious emerald green light and the viz was pretty amazing. Ten metres plus. We both confirmed we were "ok" and started to bimble along the wreck.

An opening looked quite enticing. I could see it didn't go very far, something like two metres, but I was still curious. There was nothing of interest, however I got a little stuck. What immediately went through my mind was, "I have all the time in the world to get out of here." My Poseidon was giving me just what I needed at that moment. Time! After some gentle wiggling, I successfully reversed into the green sunshine.

Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Poseidon rebreathers, Poseidon Ambassador, Simon Morris, Steve Newman, Adam Wood, James Roberton, OThree drysuits, Hollis fins, Swanage diving, rebreather diving, Divers Down, Shearwater Petrel
Surfacing With Treasure - Six Pence! Image Credit: Mike Thomas

The wreck is pretty broken up, however you can still make out some key features on her. Pieces of deck. The cove hatchings around the holds. Bollards and some railings. Time to check my paddle and computer. 20 minutes before I hit deco, and I'd already been down there for 20 minutes. How wonderful to have the luxury of such long no-decompresion time and I marvelled at just what little gas I had used on the dive. I was snug, warm and very happy on my Poseidon.

Ahead of me loomed a vast boiler. I inched closer admiring the 'furry' boiler. It was covered in hydroids and small sea anemones. "Is anyone home?" I wondered. I peered in one of the fire doors expecting to come face to face with a Conger. Instead I was greeted by a blue lobster wiggling its tentacles at me.

All too soon we came the end of the wreck as I hit one minute of deco. Time to dispatch my delayed surface marker buoy and head on up. I love how my time machine can allow me to do a 50 minutes run time with pretty much no deco, on a wreck at 30 metres. Pure Poseidon pleasure!

Poseidon Rebreather, Divers Down, Swanage Pier, Spike, Greenforce Torch, Richard Pyle, Bill Stone, James Roberton, Simon Morris, Steve Newman, Tasha Wallace, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company
A Successful Day's Swanage Diving! Image Credit: Rosemary E Lunn