CUUEG is the Cambridge University Underwater Exploration Group, AKA Cambridge University Scuba Diving Club. It’s name came about because when it was formed in 1956 there was already a Cambridge University Exploration Group. It was one of the first branches of BSAC (Branch 52), and the first University branch. CUUEG has an extensive collection of archived material from throughout its history. These records are stored in the Cambridge University Library (UL) and can be accessed by interested researchers. An online catalogue of the contents of the archives was completed by the UL in April 2008 and is available here.
Online Expeditions Archive
Many of the expeditions undertaken by CUUEG in the past were truly groundbreaking. CUUEG expeditions covered a diverse range of interests, and discoveries were made in the areas of archaeology, marine biology and physiology. As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations some of the archived material relating to past CUUEG expeditons was put online. You can find links to it in the summary below.
Despite the best efforts of club members and many helpful alumni, the club archives are still far from complete. We know of many more fascinating expeditions undertaken by CUUEG members for which we do not have any records. If you have any information, reports or photos from past expeditions that we could copy and add to the archives in the UL or online then we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
|6||Elaphonisos||1968||Report, Wikipedia, Nottingham, BBC2|
|11||Red Sea (Jordan)||1978||Report|
|12||St Paul’s Rocks||1979||Report, JSTOR|
A selection of material from some of the expeditions that CUUEG has run over the past 50 years can be found below.
The expedition to map the underwater city of Apollonia in Lybia in 1958-59 was the first field expedition organised by CUUEG. The expedition drove a VW Camper from Cambridge to Syracuse, got an Italian tramp steamer across to Benghazi and then scrounged a truck of the army to drive the 100 miles east to Apollonia! Aside from mapping the underwater city the divers also shot some colour film using a Bell and Howell clockwork wind-up camera and an underwater housing designed and built in the engineering labs in Cambridge.
A joint team of divers from CUUEG and Imperial College London explored all the underwater cliffs and caves round Gibraltar, looking for evidence of Ice Age low sea levels, submerged caves, and evidence for stone age and Neanderthal occupation of submerged caves. This cave, Gorham’s has been excavated in a series of projects at intervals over 50 years. Underwater the divers found a row of submnerged caves off Vladi’s Reef, and these are being surveyed and excavated today.
A marine zoological project organised by Michael Davis and led by Robin Crump looked at the dirunal activity of sea urchins, sea cucumber and fish off the Maltease coast at Weid iz Zurrieq. Their project was awarded the 1965 BSAC Duke of Edinburgh prize for the best scientific project carried out by BSAC members that year. To download the full expedition report click here (pdf 1.85Mb)
Another project undertaken in Malta in 1965 investigated the effects on IQ, intelligence and dexterity of working divers using nitrox and heliox mixtures. Experiments tested such things as mental arithmetic at the surface, in a chamber at surface, in a chamber at pressure, and underwater at 10m, 20m, 60m on all the various gas mixes.
In early 1966 CUUEG formed an expedition to make an extensive underwater archaeological survey of the harbour of the Roman town of Sabratha in Lybia and a number of other classical ports between Tripoli and Tunis. To download the full expedition report click here (pdf 3.55Mb)
Originally intended as an expedition to survey the many classical submerged ports in the Maghreb region of western North Africa, the outbreak of the Middle East War forced plans to change, and the expedition instead aimed to carry out a similar project on the Adriatic Coast of Jugoslavia. Unfortunately after arrival in Jugoslavia it became apparant that archaeological work could not be conducted in Jugoslavia without a full permit, especially in the military area of the Gulf of Kotor. This could not be obtained, and plans were forced to change again. The group was invited to work in Southern Italy, joining the formal expedition of the Council of Underwater Archaelogy in exploring and excavating the Garigliano River. To download the full expedition report click here (pdf 3.67Mb)
The purpose of this expedition was to study, survey and photograph the underwater remains of a settlement site near the island of Elaphonisos, which lies off the Peninsula of Elos, in the south eastern part of the Peloponnese. The expedition’s plan of work comprised: land surveying, underwater surveying and photography, and an attempt was to be made at aerial photography from a captive hydrogen balloon. To download the full expedition report click here (pdf 7.71Mb)
The expedition to Gibraltar in 1969 aimed to carry out both geological and zoological projects. The geological objectives were to build up a map of sea floor geology in order to suggest the most likely geological origin of the peninsular, and to estimate when the sea level changes of the Pleistocene Glaciations occurred by dating deposits in underwater caves. The zoological objectives included carrying out an ecological survey of Gorgonians (Sea Fans). To download the full expedition report click here (pdf 5.11Mb)
In the early 1970s CUUEG assisted with the UK government’s efforts to claim Rockall for the United Kingdom! To hear Nic Flemming talking about the project at the CUUEG 50th Anniversary Ball click here (mp3 3.83Mb)
1975 Bantry Bay
The 1975 expedition set out to study the rough-stalked kelp Laminaria hyperborea in and around the Bantry Bay area of County Cork, South-West Ireland. A number of sites were selected and the kelp populations analysed in terms of growth statistics and the fauna associated with the kelp holdfasts.
The analysis was intended to form the basis for future monitoring of the effects of any pollution and to provide some indication as to whether or not the oil terminal in the bay had any obvious localised effects on the sublittoral fauna and flora.
1977 Bantry Bay
The expedition to Bantry Bay in 1977 had two main aims. Firstly it continued work on the kelp Laminaria hyperborea started by the 1975 Bantry Bay expedition. The 1975 expedition showed significant differences in plant size between certain kelp populations, and the 1977 expedition hoped to investigate these further.
Secondly the expedition supported two projects in association with Underwater Conservation Year. The first of these was a population study of the edible sea urchin Echinus esculentus which appears to be threatened by human activity in some areas. The second project was a more general biological species recording scheme, which was part of a national effort to identify the distribution of certain organisms around the coastline. It was hoped that this would form a baseline against which future records can be compared to show changes over time.
1978 Red Sea (Jordan)
The project of the Cambridge expedition to Aqaba, Jordan, was a detailed study of individual recognition in the coral reef fish Dascyllus aruanus, and of the possible role of sound produced by the fish. To download the expedition report click here (pdf 1.98Mb)
1979 St Paul’s Rocks
Saint Paul’s Rocks are an isolated, uninhabited group of islets in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, which appeared from the reports of visitors to possess a quite remarkable flora and fauna. The aims of the expedition were (1) to make collections of the marine and terrestial flora and fauna, (2) to establish the biographical relationships of the animal and plant species at St Paul’s with those from other areas in the tropical atlantic, and (3) to study the large shark population that surrounds the Rocks. The expedition to Saint Paul’s Rocks was awarded the 1979 BSAC Duke of Edinburgh prize for the best underwater scientific project carried out by BSAC members in that year. To download the full expedition report click here (pdf 9.12Mb)
1980 Plitra Survey
The Plitra Survey was formed to continue the preliminary work of the Cambridge expedition to Asopus 1979. The aim of the survey was to study the ancient, partially submerged remains at Plitra in the province of Laconia, Greece, in conjunction with the Greek Ephoria of Underwater Activities.
1981 Red Sea
The Cambridge Red Sea Reef study 1981 was instigated as a result of concern about the state of the coral reefs bordering the Red Sea around the mouth of the Gulf of Suez. The objectives of the expedition were firstly to survey a series of reefs in the complex of islands and reefs near Hurghada where evidence of oil pollution had been reported. Secondly the team was to travel south to undertake a comparative study of the little known and rarely visited reefs of the southern Egyptian coast.