Published: July 25th 2009July 25th 2009
Divers diving recently on gorgeous Manta Point
Well Cavan, did you dive here? Did you dive on Manta point. The last time I did was a few weeks ago, and I saw plenty of coral and no rubble at all.
Dear Readers, and friends of Pemba,
it is hard for me to write this, as of course there will be some negative connotations attatched to this blog. But those of you who read this blog on a regular basis will know that I live on Pemba and that I am contantly in awe of the incredible and unspoiled underwater environment that exists here on our paradise island. True, we do have our problems and yes true the greed of man gets in the way of conservation, but in general. Pemba is still an incredible dive location. One of the world's top 10 untouched coral reefs. The time to visit Pemba is clearly now.
But we have been attacked. An assault has been made on the pristine nature of Pemba. Not by a dynamite weilding African, or an Asian Trawler scraping the bottom at 800metres; but by a journalist from the TIMES OF LONDON. We have been attacked by some pen pusher in London, who thinks he's seen the world because he's booked 8000 pounds of diving holidays. Further to this, the small minded man claims that we are all greedy and raking the cash in at the world's expense.
Big eyed Jacks split
Well Cavan, here are some big fish. Taken by me, with my own camera. I wonder why you did not see them? Wrong dive company perhaps?
I have spent 800,000 pounds in Pemba and am 60,000 in debt. I cannot see that I am raking anything in, apart from trouble. Perhaps he should be denied a salary for ten years and write for fun, and then have us accuse him of being greedy?
And so, quite naturally, I feel the need to correct the vitriol of this horrid character, who by the way is called: Cavan Pawsons.
The best way to do this is to re-produce my email to PADI international in Bristol, which gives you the link of the erroneous and insulting article and my response online. (Whether the times uses my comments remains to be seen).
My recent images give some evidence of the ridiculous nature of the CAVAN PAWSONS article.
With my best wishes, and hoping to see you underwater soon!
TO PADI INTERNATIONAL
Some Sh*t called Cavan Pawsons wrote this drivel in the times.
While he makes a point or two his conclusion of hang up your fins, is absolute miserable rubbish. I have seen the elephant, I know fear, and I know good and bad dives.
White leaf fish
According to Cavan Pawsons, Pemba is full of rubble.
Readers will note a white leaf fish on a bed of coral. No rubble to be seen anywhere.
There is still so much to see around the world, and in Pemba. The prices and the commercialism are driven by the clients demanding “Low cost airline type” Diving.
Further to this, this disgusting character has gone on a budget safari of Pemba, and the goon dive guides have found the only 200m of dynamite damage on the entire Island. (its near uvinje). The guides have probably also found some cruddy diving with rock and no coral and blamed their in experience on dynamite.
Neil fishburne’s response is not adequate.
I live on Pemba and this correspondent has effectively damadged our livelyhood through his erroneous reporting.
I subscibe to this theory : If you own a sports car, and don’t want to drive it fast (but within the speedlimit) then don’t publicise your feelings. Just stop doing it. This is not a moral crusade to stop a dangerous activity, but the bitterness of one human being, who has been lucky enough to see the underwater world twenty years ago. If we all felt like Cavan Pawsons, then we’d stop hill walking, stop climbing Kilimanjaro, stop crossing the sahara desert, stop sailing around the coast of the
Large amounts of coral in Pemba
Again, Cavan, I find myself looking for the rubble in this image. I wonder if perhaps I am hiding it???
med, stop going to Africa, stop travelling to the Himalayas, indeed stop all travel.
I can only conclude, that Cavan Pawsons is “a miserable git of the first order”.
What I find so incredulous, is that someone who is clearly so bitter, is still writing for such and illustrious institution as the times.
“May he live in interesting times”
Simon, as usual, I remain your humble servant,
PS feel free to forward this, I shall be blogging it.
Below is the comment I made to times online, I wonder if they will publish it.
HERE IS A NEW REBUFF TO THE RIDICULOUS PAWSON COMMENTS:
Had we been two drunks in a pub, your article would raise some very interesting points. Fortunately, this is not the case, and I am now compelled to correct the incorrect sections your article in the TIMES.
I live on Pemba, and run Swahili Divers, the first PADI centre to achieve 5 star status on the Island. We, along with all the other responsible Zanzibari operators, have waged a battle against dynamite fishing for the last ten years. It has been
Wow, some manta type rays.I wonder why Cavan Pawsons did not see these guys? Maybe he did one days diving only. It takes days and days of consistent diving to look for eagle, mobular, or both types of Manta Ray. All of which exist in Pemba. But Pemba is the wild, not a zoo!
difficult, we have been criticised, and come in for threats and abuse. You have no idea of the trouble that we endure to try to conserve the world's marine environment.
There is no doubting that we do have a dynamite issue, but it only encompasses 200m of reef from a coastline of 200 miles. I have dived every inch of Pembas west coast over the past 11 years and I know where the dynamite is. I never take my guests there. Nor do the only two other PADI DIVE centres on the island.
If you dived Pemba and only saw rubble, that would suggest that you dived from a liveaboard dive boat and dived the same 200m stretch of coral ten times. Or perhaps a slight degree of exaggeration has crept into your article?
Further to this, you state that Pemba is full of Pelagics. You blame Pemba for not living up to your expectations. Please do not blame our idyllic island on the fact that you were oversold a holiday. As a matter of fact, we regularly see sharks, manta rays (both types), mobular rays, eagle rays, pilot jackfish, big eyed jacks, 2m kingfish, yellow fin
The reef on top of DF malan wall
Hey Cavan, look at this colour, and the vibrancy on this bommie. I wonder why you missed it? Maybe the tears of bitterness were clouding your vision.
tuna, tuna and many more. But we never make the mistake of guaranteeing such sightings. Pemba is not a zoo, it is the a natural environment, where nothing can be guaranteed.
The second point in your email has some merit, but is badly expressed. The PADI system may have its faults, and Dive centres around the world may employ dive guides who are less than perfect. Indeed some are cowboys, I have experienced them.
But this is down to you. You, the customer have a choice as to where you dive. You all want ever cheaper diving and so choose the cheapest dive centre again and again. The cheapest dive centre is either professional and massive and can cut prices through economies of scale, or the cowboy who cuts costs.
Fifteen years ago, I charged $100 for a two tank dive with equipment on a rib. Now, I still charge $100 for the same journey. (when bought in a package). Fifteen years ago, I paid my dive staff $1800 a month in cash and much more in visas air tickets benefits etc. Now I pay $500-800 in cash. (Benefits almost as before). In the intervening period, direct
A large gorgonian fan on the reef at Njao
AS you can see this gorgonian has not been too damaged and the diver in the background does not look too miffed at paying what he has paid?
taxation has gone from 0% to 30% of turnover.
Customers are not prepared to pay the real cost of diving in remote locations. And so, like an airline, when they demand more money off, we the operators have to shave more off. At this stage, our diving centre makes a loss. I refuse to compromise on safety issues such as :compressor maintenance, equipment maintenance, PADI instruction, Twin engine boats, new boats, staff training. I have also lowered our prices to try to combat the global financial crisis. Two dives cost $80-140 depending upon how many you do. There are simply not enough clients who have enough money to get to Pemba let alone dive her. We stay afloat by injecting our own money into the business, or pulling it out of the hotel. Times are tough, and this article is ill researched at worst and ill timed at best.
I would humbly beg that you do not allow your bitterness to stop other young people from seeing what is left of the other 80% of our world.
For coral and fish are resilient, and after a short time, both will appear on rubble.
A diver looks down on black snapper
As the dive guide, with a camera, I was Probably looking for tips! Oh sorry, I don't take tips. Another mistake Cavan.
Your humble diving companion,
THIS IS THE COMMENT THAT THE
There are more photos below