Issue 21                                                                                  December  2009
Off-Gassing...
(Web Version)

                            Merry Christmas

                               and a Happy New Year to everyone.

 

The AGM

A slide show was organized this year by Phil Kinsman, illustrating the varied activities that the club gets up to on its trips away. There has been a general change around in the committee members, which now reads as follows:

Branch Officers
Aggy Bellamy-  Chair
Paul Waddell  - Treasurer
Al Noakes  - D.O.
Kate Starling  - Secretary
 
General Committee members
Phillipa Cresswell 
Phil Kinsman 
Stacey Carless
Lily Beresford
Tim Beech
Clive Wollaston

 The committee would like to thank Sue Mace, Chris Bennett and John Searle for their support and services on the committee and remind them that itís not that easy to escape, no matter how far away they travel!

Review of the dinner dance
For those of you unable to attend the Dinner Dance, (really good excuses for failing to turn up could be published in the next newsletter, otherwise itís beer fines) or the AGM, here is a summary of awards given and what your new committee will look like Ė no photos, itís just not pretty.

New sports divers are:
Ashley Munday
Paul Lathbury
Stacey Carless
Adrian Meek
Andy Smith
Charles Swannie

The Beresford Award, given by the committee, went to Chris Bennett.
Trainee of the Year went to Stacey Carless
DOís Award went to Paul Lathbury
Members Member went to Chris Bennett
Dive Monster was won by Paul Lathbury
The Brass Ass went to Sue Astle Ė whose accident with a bikini bottom made this a very apt award.

A good time was had by all, but obviously the beer enthusiasts were holding back as there was still some left at the end of the night (beer, that is). Is this the worrying trend of a keep fit drive, or the after affects of swine flu?

Thanks to Lil as always for organizing the event, and presenting the Beresford Bowl. Thank you as well to everyone who supports this event year in and year out, and those new members who came along. It is important to the committee and the club that we get together to celebrate being members of one of the best clubs in the country, which is after all, down to the busy workings behind the scenes and the members themselves.
Wreck of the Month - HMS Scylla
50 19.64N 03 15.20W
Itís been 5 years since the Scylla was sunk off Plymouth, becoming Europeís first artificial reef. This is a brief update about how successful it has been, but first, the history.

Her pennant number was F71. She was launched from Devonport Dockyard on 8 August, 1968, 2500 tons of broad-beam Leander-class frigate and the the fourth warship to be christened HMS Scylla since 1809.

On 14 February 1970 she joined the Western Fleet in the Med with her 263 crew, reaching her top speed of 28 knots from her 30,000hp geared-turbine engines in trials near Gibraltar. She carried Seacat missiles, a Lynx helicopter and 4.5in guns.
In 1971 she joined the Far East Fleet in Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong and then the Beria Patrol, returning to Plymouth in February 1972. In January 1973 she collided with the Torpoint-Devonport ferry in fog. No one was injured but her captain was court-martialled and found negligent.
Playing bumper cars with Icelandic fisheries vessels in the Cod War of 1972-1976, Scylla earned a reputation as the toughest RN fishery protection warship. In June 1973 she was accused of helping two British trawlers to ram the Icelandic gunboat Arhakur. Scylla claimed merely to have stood by. Six days later, however, she did take positive action after being rammed by the gunboat Aegir. She rammed much harder back and the gunboat limped away.
Scylla later seemed to be everywhere - entertaining US President Jimmy Carter aboard off the Leeward Islands, in the Channel to scatter the ashes of Cruel Sea author Nicholas Montserrat and, in 1980, helping the victims of Hurricane Allen in the Cayman islands. In 1986 she was on Gulf Patrol duty and in 1992 was given the freedom of Aberdeen.
December 1993 saw Scylla paid off. And on 27 March 2004, the 372ft frigate, with a beam of 43ft and drawing 19ft, was 'placed' on the seabed in 21m in Whitsand Bay - not far from Devonport.


Marine scientists believe the scuttled former Royal Navy frigate is now home to about 260 sea species, surpassing expectations both in terms of visitors and in colonisation. While Scylla has attracted many of the typical sea creatures associated with a shipwreck, such as conger eels, whiting, mussels and barnacles, queen scallops, cuttlefish and scorpion fish, there has also been some other visitors, including a nationally rare sea slug and pink sea fans, which colonised in August 2007. It appears that all round, the wreck has become a great success.

It is believed that it has generated up to £30million in its first five years, which has created a massive boost to Plymouthís economy. Numerous business leaders in the South West region doubted the National Marine Aquarium-led project, believing it would fail, but figures show about 42,000 people have visited the wreck on 7,000 dive boats since its spectacular sinking on March 27, 2004.
The National Marine Aquarium has been monitoring and logging the wreck for the last five years and will continue to do so for a further five.
Creature of the Month - Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)

The vampire squid, known to scientists as Vampyroteuthis infernalis, looks like something that swam out of a late-night science fiction movie. But in spite of its monstrous name, it is a small creature, growing to only about six inched in length. The vampire squid is an ancient species and is a phylogenic relict, meaning that is the only surviving member of the order Vampyromorphida. It is a unique member of the cephalopod family in that it shares similarities with both squid and octopuses. In fact, it was originally and mistakenly identified as an octopus by researchers in 1903.
The vampire squid has large fins at the top of its body that resemble ears. These fins serve as its primary means of propulsion as it literally flies through the water by flapping these fins. As with other squid, it can also use jet propulsion to move by expelling water through a specialized siphon jet located just under its mantle. The vampire squid has a very gelatinous form, resembling a jellyfish more than the common squid. It can swim surprisingly fast for a gelatinous animal, reaching speeds of over two body lengths per second. It also has the largest eyes relative to its body size of any animal. Though it is relatively small, growing to a length of only about six inches, it has globular eyeballs about the size of those of a large dog. These large eyes can appear red or blue in colour, depending on the light. The vampire squid's eight arms are connected with a webbing of skin, which makes it look more like an octopus than a squid. When threatened, the squid can draw its arms up over itself and form a defensive web that covers its body. Each of the eight arms is lined with a single row of suction cups and rows of soft, fleshy spines known as cirri. It is these spines, along with the cape-like webbing and red eyes that give the vampire squid its unusual name. Located inside the vampire quid's webbed arms can be found a pair of retractable sensory filaments. These filaments are similar to the two long tentacles found on other squid species. Also located within the webbing are two powerful beak-like jaws. These jaws are as white as ivory and are strong enough to crush the shells of crustaceans. The squid's colour ranges from jet black to pale red.
The vampire squid's body is covered with light-producing organs called photophores. This gives the squid the unique ability to "turn itself on or off" at will through a chemical process known as bioluminescence. When the photophores are off, the squid is completely invisible in the dark waters where it lives. The squid has incredible control over these light organs. It has the ability to modulate the size and intensity of the photophores to create complex patterns that can be used to disorient predators and attract prey. The photophores are larger and more complex at the tips of the arms and the base of its two fins. Unlike most other squid, it does not have the ability to change its colour. This ability would be useless in the dark environments in which it lives. The squid's light show is probably its main form of defence, since it lacks the ink sack which is present in other squid species. It can, however, eject a thick cloud of glowing, bioluminescent mucus from the tips of its arms when threatened.
Not much is known about the feeding habits of the vampire squid. Its diet is believed to consist of prawns, copepods, cnidarians, and other small invertebrates. The beaks of vampire squid have been found in the stomachs of seals, whales, and fishes, indicating that it is a favourite prey item for many deep-diving species. The squid has an extremely low metabolic rate, indicating that it can go for long periods of time without feeding. This is an important adaptation seen in many deep sea species since food can be hard to find at these extreme depths.
As with most deep water creatures, very little is known about the reproductive habits of the vampire squid. We do know that the eggs of the squid are small and opaque, reaching a size of about eight millimetres. They are thought to reproduce slowly by laying a relatively small number of eggs. The distribution of eggs has been found to be similar throughout the year, indicating that there may be no particular breeding season. Once the eggs hatch, the young hatchlings will drift with the water. They resemble miniature versions of the adults except that they lack the webbing between the arms and their eyes are much smaller. As they develop, the young vampire squid undergo what has been described as a double metamorphosis. At early stages of development, the young squid have a single pair of fins located near the eyes. At a later stage, this pair of fins gradually disappears as a new pair develops. As the animal reached maturity, these fins are resized and repositioned to maximize swimming efficiency.
Vampire squid are found throughout the deep oceans of the world in most tropical and temperate regions at depths of between 300 feet (about 90 meters) and 3,000 feet (over 900 meters). They live in the oxygen minimum layer of the ocean where virtually no light penetrates. They seem to prefer a temperature between 35 and 43 degrees Fahrenheit (between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius).


Thank you to everyone for their contributions and comments and if you have anything that you would like to add to the newsletter, let us know by 20th January so it can be included in the next issue.
Hope you enjoyed this issue.

Coming up in the next issue ó highlights of coming year.

                Sea Creatures

Find and circle all of the sea creatures that are hidden in the grid.
The words may be hidden in any direction

Crab Dolphin Jellyfish Lamprey Lobster Molluscs Octopus, Otter

Penguin Sea turtle Seal Shark Shrimp Sponge Squid Starfish

Stingray Walrus Whale

 

Thanks to the Editors: Lin Noakes, Wendy Munday, Phillipa Cresswell,                                                  Back