Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ed the Bear studies Maritime Archaeology

Hi all

I left Abby and shortly after arriving in Cape Town, I travelled on the Robben Island Ferry with Sophie who is from SAHRA. SAHRA stands for ‘South African Heritage Resources Agency’. I will be joining a group of students who are doing a Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Field School. This is an international project to educate people who want to learn the skills to help protect underwater cultural heritage.
As you know I have a great interest in maritime heritage and so I was very pleased when I was offered the chance to take part in the course and learn more about underwater heritage.
When we got off the ferry I was taken to where the team was staying, a building once used as the common law prison. I meet some of the skilled experts involved in teaching different parts of the course, Vicki Richards and Jon Carpenter working as conservators at the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Bill Jeffery a maritime archaeologist from Australia, Peter Holt from the UK and creator of Site Recorder and John Gribble a Maritime Archaeologist from South Africa.
Me with Peter Holt, Heather and Mareille

Once I had settled and met the team they realised that I would only be able to experience the Robben Island Field school as I was unable to bring my diving bell. It would have taken too long to get the diving bell out to me and for it to pass safely through customs. I would at least have the chance to work alongside some of the students as they undertook research projects looking at heritage sites and their maritime connection. I would have to stay on dry land when the students experienced the research work below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Table Bay.

However, the dive support team, The Frog Squad, were quick to take up the challenge of finding a way for me to follow the students underwater. They set to work designing and building my very own water tight submersible.
Here I am inspecting the development of my new submarine.

After lots of discussion and planning the project was complete. I entered my new vessel, was given a safety talk, and very soon I set off to explore the world under water with the underwater team. Frog Squad had done a good job, but they warned me to be careful as the submersible had not been tested.
My first test dive in my new submersible, frog Squad Divers are keeping a close eye incase something goes wrong

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