Blog by Gareth Lewis.

Wow!! Opportunity of a lifetime! I am so privileged and grateful to have been invited as the only UK representative on this famous diving expedition, not only for me personally but for the sacrifices and support that my family and colleagues have made to allow me to participate. Four days in now and six dives under my belt so far and the team have already cleared 2 huge bags of abandoned fishing gear off the wrecks. It is so rewarding to be part of the professionalism and skill that allows this clean up operation.

As a diving marine biologist at heart myself, I love the enthusiasm for identifying potential new species for some Netherland’s sites. It is great that even though I can’t speak Dutch we can communicate through Latin species names!

As we chart ever nearer to the UK sector of the Dogger Bank, that I have spent the last 5 years studying through my involvement with the proposed offshore wind farm, I am relishing the opportunity to see with my own eyes and feel with my own skin the wrecks and biology that have until now only been possible to witness through remote sensing techniques.

As far as I am aware there have been very few if any biological dives on the UK side of the Dogger Bank and whilst I am sure a few have tried to dive some of the charted wrecks, there are some now discovered that are looking for an identity such as a potential submarine that could be the U66 from the first world war. This is where the expertise of the on-board archaeologists comes in, and I hope we will be writing a report for English Heritage very soon.

I trust that I can provide a link to some of the UK organisations that will be so interested in the work of this great international team, and it would be amazing, if possible, to organize a similar expedition with more UK like minded divers so that we could support each other more in the ambitions and aims to “Dive the North Sea Clean”!