Search and Recovery in the Community

When the Irish pleasure diving season draws to a close in late October, many divers put their gear away until next year and head for the pool to stay SCUBA fit. For some divers, the winter season marks the start of Search and Recovery training on a regular basis. I am fortunate to have a local unit based ten minutes from where I live, so I am able to meet up weekly to run Search and Recovery (SAR) training exercises.  Our unit trains mid-week in the evening after work, so every session is a night dive.  I think this makes a difference to our units skill-set as search call-outs can happen at any time.

The unit I volunteer for is Killaloe Ballina Search & Recovery which was setup to serve the local community in 2001.  The unit is small and tight knit, made up of experienced divers, coxswain and crew members plus a dedicated backroom team that manages the paperwork and fundraising. Every penny spent on search and recovery activities is funded by the community and its volunteers.  Most people are unaware that volunteer divers performing recoveries are totally unfunded by the government.

search and recovery training
Local volunteer SAR dive unit getting ready

KBSR has been involved in many searches over the years and played a vital role in partnership with the local Killaloe Coast Guard Unit as well as working closely with local Gardaí.  The unit is also a member of the Diving Ireland (CFT/IUC) group of SAR units and joins search and training efforts from the wider national group. In May of 2016 the Irish Underwater Council (IUC) signed a Service Level Agreement with The Irish Coast Guard which formally enables all units part of the IUC to be “asked to task” by the IRCG.

AGA mask SAR training

We recently ran a course with Diving Ireland in UL that had a dozen divers learning the basics of current SAR methods. The course included a full day on the water in Ballina/Killaloe practicing various search techniques in the canal and a tow-bar search off the boat. We also took the class up to the pool in the Lakeside Hotel for a chance to try out Full Face Mask.  If you are interested in learning more about joining a local SAR unit in your area – reach out to Diving Ireland to get started.

coastgaurd and search and recovery

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Dusty the Dolphin

Last weekend paid a visit to a local wild Dolphin called Dusty and managed this split-shot.  She hung around the slip while we loaded the boat and followed us to a dive site near the Cliffs of Moher. She spent time with all the divers and then escorted us back home. Magical.

dusty the dolphin split shot

Video footage taken by my dive buddy Diarmuid O’Donovan

This image was a winner for me in the Vincent OBrien Underwater Photography competition this year at the Irish Dive Show. Its not two images stitched together. The lens is both above and below water at the same time. This was taken at the slip where Dusty the dolphin swam back and force in front of the scene for 20 minutes. I wanted to capture the size of Dusty against the pier. People looked down watching her interact with the divers getting the dive boat ready.

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Love Your Coast Photography Competition 2018

Delighted to be selected in the top ten for the second year in a row for An Taisce Clean Coasts – Love Your Coast photography competition.  Headed up to

Top of the Pinnacle. This is my top ten image for 2018. Pleased to get that far. I use a Sony R100 m2 with a pair of Inon Z240s

Dublin to meet my friends that were all selected as finalists and got to cheer on the winners.  I didnt win (again) but it was really great to see my image hanging from the wall and to see the excellent standard required! Hoping to give it another try next year for sure. The winners are here.

Here were my other submissions that didn’t make the grade. Next year I will be back and I hope to submit more pictures to the Love Your Coast 2019 competition.

Out on a Limb. I love this nudibranc but it didn’t make the cut.

an OK Devonshire Cup coral

If only Ciaran would have swam into the strobe zone i think this might have ranked higher.

my favorite, but another nudibranch not picked.

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