Making a real IMPACT, further than fun

GUE can provide you with better diving skills and we all take pride in our abilities underwater. Once you reach a level of proficiency it is a great accomplishment and as a diver, you feel truly able and confident to enjoy your sport.

In my classes & previous posts I have eluded to opportunities that are available outside of training and I hoped to showcase some of our NZ grown initiatives and champion their efforts here in. The investment of the teams who made these a reality is huge and without preconceived agenda, they have dedicated themselves to making a positive and real difference for us all.


Project Baseline Fiji - Aboard M/Y Ad-Vantage

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Project Baseline is a global initiative focusing on using passionate divers to document change in our oceans, lakes and aquifers.
http://projectbaseline.org/

Last year a New Zealand based team negotiated access to resources allowing scientists and researchers the opportunity to study the condition of reef ecosystems of Fiji.

This project was on a grand scale with submersible operations, re-breather & Open circuit dive teams and local outreach, all aimed at setting a line in the sand to measure the regions ocean health. Through previous connections to the islands Jamie Obern and Mel Jeavons liaised with GUE and PB HQ to align a working endevour, all aimed at getting the right people out there doing real research.

Ciro Rico (USP); “These reefs are an example of a pristine ecosystem” Something to measure change against in a rapidly changing ocean world.

The project was the most successful ever performed by GUE in terms of data collection. The crew and divers worked full time to facilitate the science aims of the project and the to support the scientists themselves. The resource the NZ team managed to access due to the generosity of a private owner enabled these highly skilled individuals to conduct important work in areas they could not normally access.


Project Baseline Lake Pupuke - Auckland NZ

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Lake Pupuke is a 100,000-year-old volcanic lake occupying volcanic crater between the suburbs of Takapuna and Milford on the North Shore. It’s a popular recreational spot in the summer months.
https://www.facebook.com/SavePupuke/

In the summer of 2014, algal bloom causing brown discoloration appeared in the lake. The algal bloom is naturally occurring, non-toxic and present all year round. However, when warmer weather arrives, its growth accelerates on the surface turning the lake a dirty brown color.

Ebi Hussein, Auckland Council & Auckland based PB teams have been working to understand the complex reasons behind the changing nature of the lake. Monitoring shows the water quality is relatively good; however, the lake is becoming more nutrient enriched. The increase in algal blooms is due to the higher levels of nutrients as well as pest fish and pest plants which disturb the natural ecosystem of the lake. This is not unusual for an urban lake. What is different is the depth of Lake Pupuke and that no rivers or streams feed or drain this lake, making it a “sink” for the North Shore.

This ongoing research and monitoring project has collaborated with the Cawthron Institute and many other entities to make a real impact to this valuable fresh water resource in Auckland. The project has been almost exclusively run using GUE trained volunteer divers who consistently go to this stressed location to take visual readings and samples of many different areas of interest.

The project has been fantastically successful to this point and Ebi and his team have just been awarded the 2019 Project Baseline Scholarship award guaranteeing further support for their ongoing work, as well as a nomination earlier for the Mayoral conservation awards in Auckland.

Great work by a great team!


Ghost fishing NEW ZEALAND

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https://www.ghostfishing.co.nz/

Ghost Fishing NZ is the NZ branch of an international organization who collaborate worldwide with various local groups of technical and salvage divers to remove lost fishing gear.  GFNZ have embraced this concept and diversified it by also removing rubbish and debris (bottles, cans, street cones, shopping trolleys), fishing gear (hooks, line and sinkers), abandoned fishing nets and various other dumped items we find (cray pots, sea cages) from the local environment.

Officially established in 2015, GFNZ is a proactive clean-up crew consisting entirely of voluntary scuba divers, free divers and shore crew.  Unlike most other clean-up events which are organized through local dive clubs, GFNZ utilizes technical and GUE trained scuba divers and a free-diving team for all their in-water activities.  The unique combination of scuba and free divers enables litter/rubbish/nets to be lifted and taken to the shore in the safest possible manner, with the least exertion to the working scuba divers at depth. 

GFNZ also utilizes a dedicated crew of shore support who are tasked with removing the marine life from the rubbish which has been recovered.  This marine life is either returned to the ocean, or re-homed in the Island Bay Marine Education Center, where it is on display to the public and used for public outreach and education.    

Rob Wilson, Serena Cox and their teams have managed to build a community focus into what was traditionally the realm of advanced tech divers, they continue to drive change in attitudes and to encourage reform of practices that are harmful to our ocean environments.


Project Baseline Clyde Quay - Wellington NZ

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https://www.facebook.com/PBClydeQuay/

The aim of project baseline Clyde Quay is to determine a biological baseline and document the extent of anthropogenically derived rubbish. This recent evolution by the Wellington team is growing readily, again GUE trained divers make up the core of the dive teams and once again they have deliberately engaged their local community with the intention of building a better environment for all to access.

Dr Serena Cox (NIWA) has designed mission objectives with real value in their application, there was a need to both document and improve this area of the harbor. The foresight of the team to engage in this restorative process has demonstrated the value of passionate divers to use their skills to the benefit of us all, in or out of the water.

It is not necessary for us to do more with our skills, having fun is enough for some divers. For many however the opportunity to make an impact and contribute positively within our communities is irresistible! The rewarding feeling of giving back is something that can compliment the fun of being proficient and to many as valuable as the diving itself.

My question would be this; You have worked hard on your skills and techniques, met the challenges you were set and become a highly skilled individual. How much could someone else benefit from your support and resource? Identify their need and fill it, you won’t regret it!

“A big thanks to Andrew D, Frontline Photography & Ebi Lincoln for the images”


Russell Hughes