Deptherapy Expedition Postponed For a Year But Training Continues at Home

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Deptherapy Programme Members Chris Ganley and Dan Phillips measure coral on the Shinkoku Maru in Chuuk Lagoon (Photo: Dmitry Knyazev/Deptherapy)

Ongoing travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have led to a temporary pause in Deptherapy’s expeditions, but divers from the rehabilitation charity have been engaged in home-based training in preparation for the recommencement of programmes in 2021.

In 2019, Deptherapy, in partnership with the Endeavour Fund – established in 2012 by Prince Harry to help wounded members of the armed forces achieve sporting and adventure challenges – secured a grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to cover two marine ecology courses in 2020 looking at coral cover and fish assemblages. A ten-day Red Sea liveaboard would follow during which Deptherapy programme members would compare the coral and aquatic life on two historic wrecks from the Second World War – the iconic and much-dived SS Thistlegorm and the less well known and rarely dived SS Turkia, a transport ship sunk in the Gulf of Suez in May 1941. The courses and liveaboard have been rescheduled until 2021 and 2022.

The marine ecology courses are being led by Dr Deborah McNeill and Guy Henderson of the Open Ocean Project, which operates the Open Ocean Science Centres in El Quseir and Dahab in Egypt. Deptherapy's participating members have been issued with supporting materials in advance of the course and the team has been active in a private online group, to broaden their general base of knowledge before training begins in earnest. The practical components of the course will be held at Deptherapy's Egyptian base at Roots Red Sea in El Quseir, and the expedition on Roots' new accessible liveaboard, Big Blue.

Along with the education in marine ecology, Programme members who wish to participate in the expedition will be expected to be certified as Advanced 35 level divers by Deptherapy's dive training partner, RAID,and divemaster level participants will be required to qualify as RAID Advanced Wreck Divers prior to the liveaboard.

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Deptherapy has partnered with RAID as its training agency of choice (Photo: Dmitry Knyazev/Deptherapy)

The results of the comparative wreck study will be shared with the Hurghada Environmental Protection & Conservation Association (HEPCA) and Egypt's Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS). A formal presentation either to the Egyptian Embassy in London or at the British Embassy in Cairo is also planned.

'The Marine Ecology courses that Deptherapy has introduced are really exciting,' said Deptherapy Ambassador and Divemaster Trainee Tom Oates, who will begin a degree in marine biology at Hull University in September. 'My knowledge has increased massively since the courses were announced and being part of the expedition will be a once in a lifetime experience.'

Dr Deborah McNeill, who is based at the University of Glasgow, said: 'I’m very excited about running these field courses for Deptherapy. The courses are designed
to develop a specific set of scientific skills, but they also represent an excellent opportunity for team building. 'We’ve already made a promising start on the academics and it will be brilliant to see these skills put into practice in the amazing classroom that is the Red Sea.'

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

 

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