Scuba Diver ANZ #30

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With COVID-19 understandably dominating the headlines through 2020, other important issues, like the environment, have been somewhat forgotten. Just before the pandemic swept the globe, Australia had been subjected to horrendous wildfires, which have been strongly linked to global warming, while alarming reports have shown that the world’s oceans are also facing unprecedented pressure from the unsustainable influence of humankind. In the recent documentary, Extinction with Sir David Attenborough, the great man explains ‘how this crisis of biodiversity has consequences for us all, including putting us at greater risk from pandemic diseases’. So perhaps as well as trying to live with and recover from COVID-19, we should also consider what impact our actions have on the environment and demand more from ourselves and the powers that be. In this issue of the magazine, we have the usual news from around the Asia-Pacific region, some great equipment reviews and excellent destination features. Jean-Pierre Nathrass takes us on a journey to the diving wonderland that is Raja Ampat, and Don Silcock shares his love - and some impressive images - of all things big, and where you can find them. Closer to home, Chelsea Haebich introduces us to the Great Barrier Reef’s lesser-known but equally diverse neighbour, the Great Southern Reef. There is also my final piece on the fantastic diving on offer from Cairns. In this issue, the focus is on the superb Ribbon Reefs. I hope to be doing a lot more travelling in 2021 and look forward to bringing you more about the excellent diving on offer in this amazing country and possibly also aboard.

Adrian Stacey, Editor-at-Large (Australia and New Zealand)


Adrian Stacey Editor-at-Large (Australia and New Zealand) Tel: +61 422 611 238 Email:

Mario Vitalini, Don Silcock, Chelsea Haebich, Jean-Pierre Nathrass.

Paul Lees Editorial Manager (Southeast Asia) Email:



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10 News

20 Australia

Coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef, a giant inflatable snorkeller ‘swimming’ into the harbour in Sydney, a new campaign to save the hawksbill turtle, Lady Musgrave Island gets a new dive boat, 4,000 chemicals found in turtles, and good news from the Solomon Islands.

18 Medical Q&A

The experts at Divers Alert Network Asia-Pacific discuss getting back to diving after suffering a wrist fracture, and after having a chiropractic adjustment.

66 Conservation Corner

Conservation projects in and around Australia, New Zealand and SE Asia - this issue, the WWF reports that more than 300 species of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.


In the final segment of a three-part feature, Australia and New Zealand Editor-at-Large Adrian Stacey continues his liveaboard adventure out of Cairns, this time experiencing the awesome diving on the Ribbon Reefs of the great Barrier Reef.

28 Big animals

Underwater photographer Don Silcock explains why he is so addicted to the thrill of diving in the company of big animals all around the world, including whales, dolphins, sharks and even crocodiles.

34 Divers Alert Network Asia-Pacific

This month, the experts at DAN Asia-Pacific look at how difficult it can be to diagnose decompression illness, or some other ailment, and how fixating only on a dive-related diagnosis can result in potentially dangerous delays in treatment.





36 Underwater Photography

58 Test Extra

Underwater photography guru Martyn Guess continues on from his piece about shooting seals, this time urging divers to experiment with blackand-white images.

42 Indonesia

Jean-Pierre Nathrass showscases seven of the top dive sites in Raja Ampat, and presents a list of creatures large and small you should expect to encounter.

This issue Scuba Diver Australia and New Zealand Editor-at-Large Adrian Stacey rates and reviews the Sharkskin Chillproof Titanium range of exposure protection, and the Ocean Pro Osprey F400 regulator.

50 Australia

While not as well known as the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Southern Reef is the catalyst for many of Australia’s most-famous underwater experiences and encounters, as Chelsea Haebich explains.

58 Wreck Hunter

Underwater archaeology expert Mike Haigh discusses the skills and equipment necessary to remove objects from historic shipwrecks.



More than 40 Kids Sea Camps and counting

Woody Tinsley, rests after a long day of training at a Kids Sea Camp

A Kids Sea Camp Story by Woody Tinsley One of the most common questions asked of me by families is How did I connect with Kids Sea Camp (KSC)? It’s actually a fascinating story that encompasses a series of fortuitous events. I started diving in 1998 and still considered myself a rookie diver in 2004 when I first bumped into KSC. I just happened to be on my first dive vacation in Curacao, and as I tried to book some diving at Ocean Encounters, I was told that there was a big family dive event going on and they were fully booked for the next 4 weeks. I liked kids, but KSC had completely taken over the resort, restaurants and the dive shop! I dove with another operator, but watched from a distance thinking how much fun KSC divers were having, and how cool it would be to bring my future kids on a Kids Sea Camp adventure. Fast forward two years, and I was spending a great deal of time fossil shark tooth diving. I had written two articles for Shark Diver Magazine and also became a PADI


Scuba Instructor. After writing my articles, I was invited to give a presentation at the annual Boston Sea Rovers Clinic (years later I would be accepted into their ranks, which was the proudest personal accomplishment of my life.) I threw together a Power Point presentation about ethical souvenir buying; you know No dead seahorses, sharks in jars, etc., and I created it to read like a nursery rhyme. Cristina Zenato attended, famous “shark whisperer”. She was The Shark Lady and instructor at UNEXSO in The Bahamas. Christina loved my presentation and invited me down to be a staff member at UNEXSO’s first Kids Sea Camp event. I couldn't believe it! My future kids had also been born, but were

not old enough to participate just yet.

My first Kids Sea Camp: I departed the U.S. for my first KSC adventure in 2007 on my own. Christina put me in charge of the PADI Seal Team. I was on an island paradise and teaching Aqua Missions to kids in a pool. Now if you know me, you know I'm not a “pool” guy, but honestly it was the most rewarding and fun week of my life (until later when I brought my own kids). On that trip I certified five little Seals including Natasha and Nay Nay, two 9-year-old locals girls who won the Kids Sea Camp scholarship that summer. At the end of the week, before the KSC poetry and Junkanoo


celebration, I won my first Sealife camera in the talent show, pulling off an especially fantastic lip sync rendition of the Thriller dance. My first KSC week was amazing, but truth be told, it actually took Margo until Thursday to ask me to come to work for Kids Sea Camp! I’ve been to 40+ kids Sea Camp events over the last 14 years My favorite KSC adventures are the ones I've shared with my own 2 kids Rowen and Bryson Belle, and one of the most memorable ever was at Buddy Dive in Bonaire in July of 2019. Owners Paul & Michelle Coolen, along with Margo & Tom Peyton, helped me put together a special Woody family moment in the middle of KSC. I brought along my mom Barbara, girlfriend Sally, and her two kids Olivia and Mason. I planned to ask Sally to marry me underwater during the camp. Sally was just certified so I took her on our first couples dive just off the house reef. My mom had not been diving in 2 years, so Margo's son & instructor Robbie Peyton helped


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W W W. FA M I LY D I V E R S . C O M

(Marriage proposal) had the whole family underwater with my mom and it was so fantastic. I wrote on my slate to Sally "the question", and only hoped she would circle the YES instead of the NO, and she did.

with her and Rowen too. Both Sally's kids had just completed the Jr. Open Water course and this was their first dive. Margo jumped in to shoot photos with Tom and on July 25th, 2019, I proposed to my now wife Sally Tinsley at Kids Sea Camp, Buddy Dive underwater. I popped “the question” using a slate. and only hoped she would circle the YES instead of the NO, which she did. Sharing that moment with the family was fantastic! Why I love Kids Sea Camp I’ve watched my children grow up at Kids Sea Camp. I have also been delighted to introduce over 600 kids to our underwater world and certified them at Kids Sea Camps. According to a statistic I made up, one out of every three Kids Sea Camp divers will have been certified by me in the year 2035. I have loved watching kids from all around the globe grow as divers, and I am always inspired

at how much diving has impacted their lives in such a positive way. Some of my first Zombie Apocalypse Diver Students are now instructors, including Addie Benz, Lilly Blakey, Jen Peyton, Rob

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Peyton, Ryan Seltz, Max Lavinsky, and Grant Smith. My own family is the #1 reason I love Kids Sea Camp.You and I all know why Margo Peyton started her company.The exhilarating feeling of diving with your kids at any age is untouchable.Then when you add in parrotfish, flounder and brain coral, the things you and I take for granted become exciting again when you experience them through your children's eyes.That intentionally sunk rowboat, used to make an artificial reef, is like diving the Titanic to them. Sharing this sport with my own children and hearing them talk about diving with such zeal melts my heart every time. I love Kids Sea Camp because I am a part of something much greater than myself. It allows me to share life in a way I never imagined was possible, with my family and yours. So what’s next for my Kids Sea Camp story? To be honest I have no idea. I hope it involves years of fun with Family Dive Adventures

W W W. FA M I LY D I V E R S . C O M

at Kids Sea Camps all over the world, and I hope I will see you there! Join me in Dominica, Palau, Bonaire, and Fiji in 2021. From Margo and Tom Peyton It is unquestionable that Woody Tinsley has made our company and our lives better. Kids Sea Camp would not be the wonderful fun-loving company of today without Woody’s larger than life influence. Woody reminds us every day to laugh out loud at the bizarre world we live in, to embrace and love each other without limits, and to be gentle and kind as much as you possible with everyone you meet. Thank you, Lord, Doctor, Woody Tinsley, for the years of pouring your heart and soul into making Kids Sea Camp that much better.


Each month, we bring together the latest industry news from the Asia-Pacific region, as well as all over our water planet. To find out the most up-to-date news and views, check out the website or follow us on our various social media (@scubadivermag)



ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF In early December, the world’s biggest reproductive show took place on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef as corals released trillions of egg and sperm into the ocean in a synchronized effort to reproduce their species


ften described as a gigantic underwater snowstorm, this natural phenomenon happens only for a few nights each year with a few hundred lucky divers able to witness this surreal, yet stunningly beautiful spectacle that celebrates new life and the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Chief Scientist Dr David Wachenfeld explains that the mass coral spawning is the single most important annual event in the Reef’s recovery processes during which the corals of the Reef show off their resilience. “The Reef is beautiful, vibrant and resilient. But, after three mass coral bleaching events in five years, it is under greater pressure than ever,” he said. “In many parts of the Reef, the shallow corals were hit really hard in bleaching events in 2016, 2017 and 2020. But those that survived are a genetic gold-mine of tough corals that have proved they can survive marine heatwaves.” Stuart Ireland, underwater videographer at Calypso Productions and marine biologist is fortunate enough to have witnessed and documented coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland for over 20 years. “Each year is still so special. The way this tiny species manages to reproduce at the same time in one giant effort and its resilience continues to amaze me,” he said. “This year’s event was spectacular. We saw more corals spawning than we have in previous years. “Many different species were spawning, from soft corals to hard corals, from massive corals to branching corals. We even saw mushroom corals spawning.” Marine biologist and Reef Teach Master Reef Guide Gareth Phillips explains that while some corals spawned earlier in November, the majority of corals released their egg and sperm


bundles (spawn) in December thanks to perfect water temperatures and a lateNovember full moon. “Coral spawning generally happens two to six days after a full moon in November when the water temperature has been over 27 degrees Celsius for a month prior. It also requires little tidal movement and mostly happens at night when plankton eaters are sleeping, giving the egg and sperm bundles a greater chance of fertilization and survival,” he said. “And while we are somewhat able to predict a timeframe for when it might happen, so much about this annual event is still a mystery, for example what exactly triggers the synchronized release. “Most corals – 75 per cent – are hermaphrodites which means polyps are both male and female. These corals reproduce externally, producing both sperm and egg that is released in the water simultaneously during the annual coral spawning event. “After the egg and sperm bundles are released, they slowly rise to the surface where they form a thick, brown slick. Now, the fertilization process begins. “The other form of reproduction is called ‘brooding’. It occurs when separate sex corals reproduce through internal fertilization. During this process, the male coral releases sperm into the water that then swims to a female of the same species containing ripe eggs to fertilize these internally. “Once fertilized, the eggs will develop into coral larva - called a planula - that can float in the water for several days or up to two months before settling on the ocean floor to start a brand-new coral colony. This is where new life begins for the corals of the Great Barrier Reef.” “Year after year, this shows that despite the pressures on the Reef from climate change, there is still hope for the future,” added GBRMPA Chief Scientist Dr David Wachenfeld. “But we have to act now. We need the strongest possible global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and everyone on our planet can play a role in delivering a healthy Reef for future generations. “We encourage the global community to visit the Reef when travel is possible again – because when you see it and fall in love with it, you ultimately want to help protect it. “The Reef is an amazing sight at any time of year, but the coral spawning is one of nature’s greatest spectacles and incredible to witness. You just need to be in the right place at the right time to see it.” Each year, dive operators along the Great Barrier Reef offer bespoke coral spawning trips ranging from an overnight dive tour to multi-day liveaboard experiences. Travellers can also base themselves at one of Queensland’s island resorts on the Great Barrier Reef to book a night dive during coral spawning. For more information on coral spawning, visit:



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GIANT CAIRNS SNORKELLER VISITS SYDNEY A giant snorkeller floated into Darling Harbour in early December inviting Australians to holiday in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef and discover why the tropical destination is the preferred summer playground for visitors from around the world. The Sydney activation on 3-5 December was part of Tourism Tropical North Queensland’s ‘Summer Great. Leave Greater’ campaign supported by Tourism and Events Queensland. Pedestrians at Cockle Bay were able to see the eight-metre inflatable snorkeller and evening projections on the Australian National Maritime Museum’s roof showcasing the beauty of the world’s largest and most-diverse reef. TTNQ Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the Summer Great campaign showcasing unique tropical summer experiences would encourage holidaymakers to fly to Cairns where one-in-five people’s livelihoods depend on tourism. “Holiday numbers traditionally spike to around 58,500 a day in ‘Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef’ but the pandemic has seen visitation fall to 8,900, so capturing the domestic audience and their pent-up desire to travel has never been more important,” he said. “This summer presents a unique opportunity to experience internationallyfamous Cairns as a pure Aussie destination.”

4,000 CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS FOUND IN GREAT BARRIER REEF TURTLES Toxic chemicals are accumulating in Great Barrier Reef marine life, including turtles and fish species popular with consumers, according to a new report by Griffith University and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia. The report entitled Chemical pollution on the Great Barrier Reef: an invisible threat lurking beneath the surface was launched in early December at the Reef Live event in Cairns. It reveals that the WWF-led Rivers to Reef to Turtles project detected about 4,000 chemical compounds in coastal green turtles living on the Great Barrier Reef. The turtles showed signs of poor health associated with exposure to chemical pollution. “Based on the science we now know that it is possible turtles are absorbing more than 4,000 compounds, which is staggering,” said Christine Madden Hof, WWF Marine Species Project Manager. “We found heart medication, gout or kidney stone medication, industrial adhesive, sealant and lubricant, metals including cobalt, herbicides and pesticides in turtle blood. “The fact that many of the compounds could not be identified means turtles are being exposed to new and emerging contaminants, making corrective action all the more urgent,” she said. Ms Madden Hof described turtles as the canary in the coal mine and said: “We suspect contaminants are also impacting the health of other Reef species from whales, dolphins, dugongs and sharks through to the fish, prawns and mud crabs caught by commercial and recreational fishers”. The report cites previous studies which found chemical pollution in Queensland’s two most high-profile fish species — barramundi and coral trout.




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There are few underwater experiences this SCUBA hardware isn’t equipped for. With rear-inflation, the BC’s design offers optimal in-water trim and comfort. The Torquay F300 regs are balanced, making for easy and efficient breathing, independent of depth or tank pressure. With 40lbs of lift (+18 kg), the BC’s capacity is higher than most. Weighing in at only 3.55 kg, the Corsair is also light enough for travel. Whether you want to dive the warm waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, or dive for a feed of crayfish in New Zealand, this package is suited for both tropical and temperate diving. All provided with the benefit of free service parts for the life of your gear, the Corsair value package is simply unbeatable.

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NEW CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE HAWKSBILL TURTLE Australians are being urged to surrender their tortoiseshell products, such as jewellery, combs and sunglasses and other trinkets, as part of a ground-breaking new project to save the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. WWF-Australia, Australian Museum Research Institute and Royal Caribbean International have joined forces to launch ‘Surrender Your Shell’, which will use cutting-edge technology to extract DNA from products to track the illegal trade of tortoiseshell. Researchers will use this DNA to trace tortoiseshell products back to the turtles’ nesting beach and develop a database or ‘ShellBank’ for the first time in Asia-Pacific. This information will help identify vulnerable turtle populations, so WWF-Australia can work with local communities, governments and the tourism industry to improve turtle protection. To support this initiative, the Australian Government has adopted a policy that for six months will allow Australians to send historically purchased tortoiseshell products to WWFAustralia, along with details of where and when they were purchased, without the risk of facing prosecution. “The simple act of popping something in the post can make a huge difference to an entire species. By surrendering tortoiseshell products like earrings, artwork and bracelets, you can add to our ShellBank and help ensure the survival of this special creature,” said Christine Madden Hof, WWF-Australia’s Marine Species Programme Manager. “Despite international trade being banned, poaching and the sale of hawksbill turtle products still takes place in our region. It is unclear where poaching is most prevalent, but with the help of the turtle DNA, we’ll be able to map poaching hotspots and work with local governments in the Asia-Pacific region to combat these illegal activities.” It is estimated nearly nine million hawksbill turtles have been traded for their distinctive shells over the past 150 years, bringing the species close to extinction. The Pacific Ocean’s population has declined by more than 75 percent and now just 4,800 breeding female hawksbills are thought to survive. The Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) - the scientific research arm of the Australian Museum - brings both collections-based research and wildlife forensic science expertise to the ‘Surrender Your Shell’ project. “Hawksbills from different regions are genetically distinct. By extracting each shell product’s unique DNA, Australian Museum scientists will help trace the tortoiseshell back to its original nesting population to identify those populations that have been targeted in the past and may still be targeted today,” says Dr Greta Frankham, Wildlife Forensic Scientist at Australian Museum. “Some of the pieces will join our curated Herpetology Collection at the museum, so people can feel good about giving up their tortoiseshell treasures not just for this vital cause, but also for future research and display. To participate, Australians just need to track down any


tortoiseshell products they’ve collected, or been gifted, over the years. Real tortoiseshell items are brown, orange, amber and yellow in colour and feature irregular patterns. If people suspect a product is real, they can take the following steps to support the project: • Visit to enter your details, including when and where the item was purchased, to retrieve a unique identification number. • Attach the unique identification number to your tortoiseshell product, package appropriately and either post through the Australia Post eParcel Returns portal or visit a Post Office with your surrendered tortoiseshell and post to WWF-Australia. • Ensure you post your item before 1 June 2021. • The first 100 items sent through the Australia Post eParcel Returns portal will be paid for by WWF-Australia. Tortoiseshell trade can be prevalent in tourism destinations around the world and Royal Caribbean International is supporting the initiative to help make tourists aware of their role in combatting the illegal trade. “We’re proud to support the crusade to save this precious species, and to raise awareness with Australians, and our guests, on the part they can play in bringing these turtles back from the brink,” says Gavin Smith, Royal Caribbean International VP and managing director, AUNZ. “The ocean is our lifeblood and we are committed to preserving it — through our own innovation, our Save the Waves programme, and through important collaborations like ‘Surrender Your Shell’.” For more information on how you can help protect hawksbill turtles by surrendering your shell, visit:




Contact reservations@ We’re the team to help you go diving again!

In August 2020, Lady Musgrave Experience launched a new custom-built aluminium dive vessel, Underworld. At 12 metres in length and powered by two 350 horsepower Yamaha engines, its cruising speed is 23 knots and its top speed is 40 knots. Set up to cater for 20 divers plus four crew, Underworld will service the company’s Outer Reef Double Dives, featuring the pristine waters of Lady Musgrave Reef and boasting some of the world’s most-amazing marine life. Underworld will also be utilised for their Tobruk Dive Experience, the premier scuba diving tour to ex-HMAS Tobruk off the Queensland coast halfway between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.


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© Dive Munda, Allways Dive

A massive shoutout to all the Dive Munda International Youth Day campaign sponsors (you know who you are!), ambassadors Miss Solomon Islands, Gladys Habu and soccer star, Raphael Lea’I, partners Solomon Airlines, Agnes Gateway Hotel, Scuba Schools International and Tourism Solomons, the awesome Dive Munda staff and, most importantly, the Solomon Islands youth! Dive Munda exceeded all expectations due to the overwhelming support of their sponsors! They received in total 95 sponsorships and committed to train 105 youth before the end of 2020, trained to become SSI Open Water divers by Dive Munda’s local instructors, led by Girls That Scuba ambassador and the only active female dive instructor in the history of the Solomon Islands, Euna Zio. Further, Dive Munda is committed to continue to work with the amazing youth in 2021. The team want to ensure the youth continues to dive and train, although they know it will be very hard for the youth to afford this, so they will work with their sponsors, partners, ambassadors and guests to ensure the youth stays active in diving.

You can become involved or continue to sponsor or partner with Dive Munda in 2021 as well! Simply pick the project and initiative below and let them know in what way you want to participate. Some of the incredible initiatives they will embark upon in 2021 (and they have already secured a few exciting partnerships): 1. Work with local certified girls to start off the Munda plastic recycling project, making arts and crafts for sale and also collecting rubbish and plastic. We will work with Plasticwise Solomon Islands on this project. 2. Work with all our local Munda certified youth to spearhead our coral restoration and rehabilitation program started last year with We are starting a ‘volunteerism’ programme with visiting guests to partake in this initiative. 3. Embark upon monthly beach and underwater clean-ups to give the youth more dive experience and also make a difference in our communities and in our ocean. Dive Munda are an SSI Blue Oceans Centre. 4. Continue to develop and train the youth - in partnership with SSI, Dive Munda will offer the awesome SSI Coral ID Ecology programme at no cost. 5. Work with the Coral Sea Foundation and the award-winning Sea Woman of Melanesia project to further develop the young female certified divers to become community reef caretakers and custodians of our oceans, reef, sharks and fish! 6. Empower the certified youth to become the spokespeople for the protection and care of our land creatures too, especially our local cats and dogs. Here Dive Munda will continue to partner with Magical Munda Animal Health. 7. Hope to find more funds and partnerships in 2021 to continue to train the youth, and take some of the shining youth stars up to dive professional level. 8. Specifically, Dive Munda will focus on training females to become dive instructors, as well as yoga teachers.



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Q: I fractured my wrist in an accident on my bicycle last week, and my doctor splinted it with a waterproof cast. I’m leaving on a dive trip this weekend. What issues should I be concerned about when diving? A: Diving is not recommended with any fracture regardless of the type of cast. ‘Waterproof’ is a misconception — there isn’t a cast that is truly 100 percent waterproof. Your doctor provided a cast that is approved for showering, bathing and even swimming if done in moderation. Moist skin can become irritated under a cast, causing superficial breaks. The risk of developing an infection from treated or chlorinated water is low, but never zero. Opportunistic microorganisms in salt water and untreated water from sources such as lakes, rivers and quarries exponentially increase the risk for infection. Additional concerns include the decreased functional capacity of the hand and increased risk of further damage from donning and doffing heavy gear and climbing up and down swim ladders. Once the healing is complete and your physician releases you for full and unrestricted activity, diving is not an issue. — Lana Sorrell, EMT, DMT


Q: Are there any issues with diving within a few hours of getting a chiropractic adjustment? A: There are no studies investigating the relationship between chiropractic adjustments and scuba diving. The possible medical fitness-to-dive concerns would be the underlying need for an adjustment (eg: lower-back and/or neck pain, headache, etc) and whether the condition represents any physical or functional impairment that might interfere with dive safety or the ability to respond appropriately to an emergency. Furthermore, some people might experience complications or side effects for a few days following a chiropractic adjustment. These symptoms can include headache, fatigue, pain and swelling that may appear as shooting radicular pain, or weakness in parts of the body that were treated — all of which could be mistaken for decompression sickness (DCS) and lead to an unnecessary recompression treatment. Similarly, DCS symptoms could be incorrectly attributed to possible complications or side effects from the adjustment or the underlying condition being treated. While we do not believe there is any physiological association between dive safety and a chiropractic adjustment, we just don’t know. The bottom line is that based on the assumption that the underlying disorder is not a contraindication for diving and the adjustment goes well, it would be wise to allow several days before considering a dive to ensure you are in top condition. — Daniel A. Nord, EMT-P, CHT


PART THREE Scuba Diver Australia and New Zealand Editor-at-Large Adrian Stacey concludes his Cairns odyssey with a liveaboard exploration of the remote Ribbon Reefs PHOTOGRAPHS BY ADRIAN STACEY



One of the first things that I noticed about diving on the Ribbon Reefs was the noise, the symphony of crackling and popping is created by tiny reef shrimps known as snapping shrimp




fter enjoying two days of outstanding diving at Osprey and Bougainville Reefs with Mike Ball Dive Adventures, we relocated to the impressive Ribbon Reefs. There are ten Ribbon Reefs in total, and they run along the edge of the Continental Shelf a few hundred kilometres north of Cairns. Nothing but the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean lies before them. As a result, they are situated superbly to benefit from the abundance of nutrients that the ocean currents have to offer. They provide a haven for a vast array of reef fish and a place for pelagic creatures like manta rays and sharks to come and feed, or receive a very welcome exfoliating treatment at one of the many cleaning stations. One of the first things that I noticed about diving on the Ribbon Reefs was the noise, the symphony of crackling and popping is created by tiny reef shrimps known as snapping shrimp. These diminutive crustaceans have one oversized claw that they snap together to stun their prey. This is done so quickly and with such force that they create what is known as a cavitation bubble. When the bubble implodes, it creates a shock wave that can reach speeds of 97 km/h, release one of the loudest sounds in the ocean, and achieve a temperature of 8,500 degrees F, which is almost equal to that of the surface of the sun. But unless you are the little shrimp’s unfortunate prey, this sound is a good thing. It is a clear sign of a healthy, vibrant reef. The noise attracts juvenile fish trying to find a new home, they in turn attract the predators, and a healthy ecosystem is the result. This fantastic reef system offers a very different experience to the sheer plunging walls and isolated grandeur of Osprey and Bougainville. Predominantly comprising of hard corals, a labyrinthine of bommies of varying shapes and sizes sit on the sandy ocean floor, at significantly shallower depths than their counterparts in the wilderness of the Coral Sea. Besides fantastic hard coral gardens, the Ribbon Reefs offer incredible biodiversity and a catalogue of animal encounters from large over-friendly potato cod to small brightly coloured nudibranchs. An unseen battle rages between rival coral colonies for reef supremacy. Prime real estate is hard to come by in this underwater metropolis, and the corals fight tooth and nail for their right to colonise their own little piece of reef substrate. There is often a clear band between rival colonies where they have killed each other off, usually done by digesting or stinging the enemy. Above the reef, the battle for life is just as intense. Small reef fish cower in the labyrinth of corals avoiding the unwanted attentions of cuttlefish, reef sharks and bluefin trevallies. Turtle chilling on the reef

Ribbon Reef number ten was the location of our first day of diving in the area. This reef is home to the famous Cod Hole, aptly named after the colossal potato cod, some up to two metres in length, that frequent the site hoping for a feed. Mike Ball no longer feeds these docile creatures, but they do drop a sealed bucket full of fish heads off the back of the boat to lure the monstrous cod in closer, although I don’t think they need much encouragement. They are inquisitive to say the least and the most-challenging part of photographing these creatures is getting them far enough away from your dome port to get a good shot. The diminutive pygmy seahorse can also be found at this site, which could have potentially created a bit of a dilemma for photographers. Healthy teeming reef

Giant clam provides a splash of colour

Potato cod

This reef is home to the famous Cod Hole, aptly named after the colossal potato cod, some up to two metres in length, that frequent the site hoping for a feed

Hard corals as far as the eye can see

Fortunately, it was at Cod Hole that we were introduced to the open deck policy that Spoilsport operates on some dive sites. As long as you have a buddy or a self-sufficient diver qualification, you are free to come and go as you please. So, one dive with a wide-angle lens and one dive with a macro lens is possible. You do, of course, need to tell the crew when you are planning on diving and for how long, so they can keep track of who is in the water. But other than that, the site is yours to explore at will.


The other reefs we visited were also exceptional in their own different ways, of particular note was Snake Pit, named after the sea snakes that frequent this site. Although none were in attendance while we were there, we did encounter a large tawny nurse shark, whitetip reef sharks, juvenile blacktip reef sharks and large schools of fusilier. The rocky topography was encrusted with hard corals and decorated with crinoids of varying colours. Cuttlefish did their best to blend in with their surrounding while brightly coloured nudibranchs did the exact opposite. Mantas are also regular visitors, coming to the site to take advantage one of the numerous cleaning stations housed here. For the final day the boat leapfrogged down the string of reefs back towards Cairns. The first stop was at a site called Cracker Jack, a towering pinnacle that rises from a depth of 35m to 10m below the surface.



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Anemonefish Shoal of snapper

Huge sea fans cling to the side of this vast monolith, joined by whip corals and broccoli corals in a multitude of colours. A big school of big-eyed jack were suspended just off the reef in the water column, monitored by large tuna and sharks. Back on the reef, leaf scorpionfish swayed awkwardly in the current while a large moray eel poked menacingly out of its burrow. Next up was perhaps my favourite dive site on this leg of the trip, Steve’s Bommie. Here an impressive spire rose from 25m to just below the surface. At its base was a profusion of sea fans and hard corals, covered in a rippling mass of glassfish. As we spiralled up this coral-encrusted column, we encountered a massive school of yellow snapper and luna fusilier, giant frogfish and numerous ugly looking stonefish. Grey reef sharks lurked in the periphery of our vision. Anthias pulsed around its upper reaches and scores of anemones are anchored between the hard corals at its pinnacle. Once again, the open deck was in operation, and this was particularly important at this site for two very good reasons. Firstly, this is a magnificent site, but it is relatively small. By the end of a dive, the tiny summit of the pinnacle would become very crowded if too many people were in the water at the same time. So, with an open deck, you can wait until

you are the only person diving. The other reason was the fact that I had an afternoon flight the next day, so after a very short surface interval, I could squeeze in another dive without pushing my luck. My travel planes did unfortunately mean I had to miss the final dive of the trip, which was a shame, but the Great Barrier Reef has left me wanting more, so I am sure I will be back. That evening we headed back to Cairns and were treated to the customary Spoilsport BBQ and karaoke night. This included a singalong with the affable captain Peter, who is not only very experienced and knowledgeable, but is also a talented guitarist. In fact, all of the crew were very approachable, knowledgeable and eager to help, it is clear that they are very passionate about their jobs and in particular the Great Barrier Reef. It was also evident that they were pleased to be out on the water again even if most of their spare time was spent relentless cleaning every surface as part of their COVID-safe plan.

The Spoilsport crew




Spoilsport at sunset

Working on a boat in the COVID-era must be challenging, but the crew coped admirably, and the quality of the trip and particularly the diving had not been adversely affected


Working on a boat in the COVID-era must be challenging, but the crew coped admirably, and the quality of the trip and particularly the diving had not been adversely affected. After disembarking the boat, I still had a couple of hours before my flight, unfortunately this was not enough time to enjoy a trip on the impressive-looking Sky Rail. I had wanted to experience this excursion before departing Cairns, but sadly it had been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions before my liveaboard. Sky Rail is a cable car that climbs the mountains that overlook Cairns, passing over ancient rainforest and towering waterfalls. The tour can also be combined with the Kuranda scenic railway for the return trip down the mountain. This excursion offers an excellent way to spend the day offgassing rather than rushing to get on a flight like I had to. On reflection it would have been better to spend an extra night in Cairns, that way I could have enjoyed the last dive of the trip and some of the many above-water activities that the region has to offer.


All in all, my visit to Cairns had been a real eye-opener. The vast array of above-water actives that the region has to offer had been a very pleasant surprise. The dayboat diving that I had experienced with Passions of Paradise and Down Under Dive had exceeded my expectations, and my liveaboard trip with Mike Ball Dive Adventures had been spectacular. n



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Underwater photographer Don Silcock explains why he is so addicted to the thrill of diving in the company of big animals all around the world PHOTOGRAPHS BY DON SILCOCK

There really is something quite unique about an eyeball-to-eyeball underwater encounter with a big animal. Basically, you are but a temporary visitor to their domain – one they may not be the absolute master of, but they are far more in control than you can ever hope to be



cuba diving and underwater photography has evolved incredibly over the last ten years or so, to the point where there are now dedicated specialities, niches and genres in all sorts of areas from technical diving to super-macro photography. For me personally, the area that gets my juices flowing the most is what is typically referred to as ‘big animals’ and is somewhat loosely defined as in-water encounters with the large and potentially dangerous creatures of the sea. My initial experience of big animals was here in Australia back in 2004 when I did my first great white shark trip to South Australia’s Neptune Islands. I can still remember how scared I was on that trip, so much so that I could not sleep properly for days before we left Port Lincoln!


I am a technical person by nature and have to understand how things work. So never having been on a white shark trip before, my mind was going over and over what could go wrong and what I might be able to do about it… For example – I knew that we would be in cage at the back of the boat using a hookah system. Which meant that we must be tied on to the boat, so ‘what if’ a great white bit through the rope and towed us away? Yes, I know stupid… but if you don’t know, you don’t know! Since that rather inauspicious beginning, I have gone on to dive with and photograph tiger, great hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks in the Bahamas and bull, ragged tooth and oceanic blacktip sharks in South Africa. Plus, humpback whales in Tonga and Japan, sperm whales in the Azores, grey whales in Mexico, whalesharks in Mexico and Mozambique, together with oceanic mantas and America crocodiles in Mexico. COVID-19 allowing, I am signed up for beluga whales in Canada, more crocodiles in Mexico, southern right whales in Argentina and blue whales in Timor Leste this year. I think you get the picture big animals are addictive…


Big underwater animals are almost always open-water, pelagic creatures that are on the move and are of no fixed abode



Hammerhead shark

There really is something quite unique about an eyeball-toeyeball underwater encounter with a big animal. Basically, you are but a temporary visitor to their domain – one they may not be the absolute master of, but they are far more in control than you can ever hope to be. So, the first thing to understand is that the encounter very much takes place on the animals’ terms. You can (and I have…) travel half-way around the world, at not inconsiderable expense, to get the opportunity to be in the water with the specific animal, only to discover they just are not interested in any kind of interaction. The second thing about big animals is that no matter how big the animal actually is, the ocean is much, much bigger and, because it’s a three-dimensional medium, there are multiple directions for them to disappear into that endless blue! But all that said, when the creature does interact with you, it’s hard to describe the sheer intensity of the experience – a unique mixture of acute fear, incredible excitement and absolute wonder. Or as a male friend of mine once said, ‘it’s a bit like having sex with your boss’s wife…’ - no first-hand experience of that by the way! Ragged tooth shark



Oceanic whitetip shark

Mother and calf


In more normal times, Don is based from Bali in Indonesia, but is currently hunkered down in Sydney… His website has extensive location guides, articles and images on some of the best diving locations in the Indo-Pacific region and ‘big animal’ experiences globally.

Humpback whale


Big underwater animals are almost always open-water, pelagic creatures that are on the move and are of no fixed abode. In some cases, such as whalesharks, they are in a constant state of migration from one rich source of food to another. Or, like the humpback and grey whales, they have rich summer feeding grounds in the polar ice caps and winter breeding grounds in sheltered archipelagos or bays like Tonga and Baja in Mexico, which they migrate between – journeys that involve distances of epic proportions. Sometimes there are populations of specific creatures that frequent certain areas at specific times of the year, usually to mate - such as the ragged tooth and tiger sharks in South Africa. Or occasionally there are resident populations, like the American crocodiles of Chinchorro in Mexico, but you can only get there


for a few months each year because of weather constraints. The bottom line is that it’s usually complicated… but the common factors are that there will typically be some form of limitation on the number of people allowed in the water at any one time, and there will often be logistical restrictions like the availability of good operators or boats. All of which means that demand usually exceeds supply, and the available capacity is often booked up well in advance by specialist underwater encounter tour companies, or well-known underwater photographers who lead trips to the location. There is very little chance of organizing an independent trip to most of the locations at the optimum times to be there and personally, I decide when and where I want to go well over a year in advance, pay my deposits and then save up for the balances!


My initial experience of big animals was here in Australia back in 2004 when I did my first great white shark trip to South Australia’s Neptune Islands

Great white shark


The fairly high cost and specialised nature of big animal trips means that they really are not for everybody, but if you do sign up and go on one, be prepared to meet some remarkably interesting people. I have personally had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with everything from multi-millionaires to truly addicted adrenaline junkies on my trips, with the full spectrum of personalities in between. For example, on one shark trip to the Bahamas, a guy I struck up an on-going discussion with over the course of the week together explained how he did an ‘adventure’ every month. Then let slip that his next one was a high-altitude supersonic flight in a special Russian Cold War-era fighterbomber… He also shared with me how he had relocated from London to Monaco to avoid the traffic! Sperm whales Manta ray



One final word of warning as I wind up this intro into big animals… If you are reading this article, it’s likely that you have more than a passing interest in signing up for such a trip. It’s also probable that you also have a personal ‘bucket list’ of aggregations and special destinations that you really want to do. So did I… and I thought that four to five trips would do it. But it really does not work like that, because each trip you go on will lead to interesting discussions about places the other participants have been to – usually over an adult beverage, or two! The bottom line being that the more trips you do, the longer that bucket list will get. Like I said, big animals are addictive… n


Singapore Kuala Lumpur


Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Perth ChristmasIslandTourism


DIVERS ALERT NETWORK: ASIA-PACIFIC Divers Alert Network, widely known as DAN, is an international non-profit medical and research organisation dedicated to the safety and health of divers. WWW.DANAP.ORG



49-year-old female certified recreational scuba diver called the DAN Emergency Hotline from George Town, Grand Cayman, around noon on a February day. She was experiencing a sudden, intense and sharp abdominal and back pain that had started 12 hours after her last dive, which had been on the previous day. That dive had been the third of a single-day series of mild, recreational repetitive scuba dives on air with no mandatory decompression stops. She had proper safety stops with the first two dives and maintained adequate surface intervals between all three dives. Her dives had been uneventful until the last one, when she ran out of air after being at 10m for approximately 30 minutes. She had not been paying close attention to her air gauge and had to perform an emergency-controlled ascent to the surface. Her buddy was too far away, so she ascended without any assistance. The diver likely started the dive with a half-empty cylinder by mistake. She denied having any other symptoms, including skin discolouration, limb or joint pain, or any perceivable neurological deficit. She had no relevant past medical history, hypertension or other cardiological or vascular diseases. Regarding the sudden onset of a severe pain 12 hours post-dive and a relatively long stay at a shallow depth before the last ascent, the diagnosis of decompression illness (DCI) was not the first choice, although it couldn’t be excluded. With limited information available, the acute abdomen and possible acute cardiac condition (heart attack) had to be excluded. The acute pain in the abdomen could be caused by an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or a gynaecological or urinary event such as a miscarriage or a severe urinary infection The general recommendations for this diver were to seek further care at the closest hospital emergency room (ER) and to hydrate and get oxygen in the meantime. At the local ER she received an initial assessment, laboratory tests and a physical examination, with particular attention to neurological function. We do not know the extent of her abdominal examination. She had no positive findings except for the non-specific abdominal pain. While not producing any new conclusive information, the examination and test results led the medical team to a clinical diagnosis of possible DCI. The hospital staff quickly moved her to the hospital’s hyperbaric chamber to start immediate treatment with a US Navy Treatment Table 6 recompression protocol. Her pain lessened during the chamber treatment but worsened immediately afterward. The hospital team reassessed the diver and found an abdominal rigidity


upon palpation; imaging showed an intestinal obstruction. The diver had surgery to remove the small damaged part of her intestine. She recovered well and returned home to the US a few days later. She had no significant repercussions that interfered with her general health or her return to scuba diving after an extended recovery period. In most cases, DCI has no specific and exclusive symptom and can be a diagnosis of exclusion. We first have to rule out all other possible causes, especially serious conditions that need other immediate intervention, before deciding to treat the diver with recompression in a hyperbaric chamber. The findings of a serious medical condition will change from its initial presentation, and symptoms and clinical conditions can change in a matter of hours, demanding a reassessment of the possible diagnoses and recommended treatments. That’s why in the event of a suspected dive accident divers should always go to the nearest medical facility and not directly to a hyperbaric chamber. Divers and ER staff should keep in mind that divers can have other health problems not directly related to diving. In the case of abdominal pain, an acute abdomen should always be excluded. This diver could have experienced this same obstruction and pain while hiking in the woods or working in an office. Fixating only on a diverelated diagnosis resulted in delays in obtaining a correct diagnosis and proper treatment. If you call the DAN Emergency Hotline, our medics can help you understand what is happening and assist you in getting the help that you need, wherever you are. n


In the event of a diving incident, we encourage all divers to call the DAN Hotline promptly for advice: • Within Australia: 1800 088 200 • Outside Australia: +1 919 684 9111 • Within Indonesia: 21 5085 8719




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PHOTOGRAPHY Following his last article on photographing seals, Martyn Guess provides some insight into, and also tips on, black and white photography underwater PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARTYN GUESS


s I haven’t been able to dive and take pictures as much as I would normally have been doing, due to the lockdown and pandemic, I have spent a lot of my spare time looking at my catalogue of images trying to find new images to process. As part of this exercise, I have looked at re-processing quite a few older images and also converting many to black and white, a genre I really like. As a result of spending hours converting images, I thought I would try and enthuse the readers of my articles to think more about black and white for their underwater images. With all the beautiful colours we see underwater, you might think why he is going to talk about black and white photography. The simple reason is that while we see things in colour, black and white can often produce a far more impactful image (See Image 1). Textures and compositional lines, contrast and shapes can all look much better without colour. You can still use techniques for composition like rule of thirds, as well as looking for good contrast and light and shadows. There is something really appealing about black and white images, they can be very moody, engaging and also very striking (image 2). There is simply something magical about this genre. Remember that when photography first came about, all the images produced were in monochrome and so the genre has been around much longer than colour! Colour can sometimes be a distraction, it can be lifeless, particularly for example insipid background water columns underwater. Render the same image in black and white and it can take on another dimension (image 3). We are often lucky underwater with the quality of the light and shadows, particularly at dusk and dawn. At these times it can be difficult to take powerful colourful images, because

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Diver in the sunbeams under Missool Pier – a colour image would have had a strange colour cast

Diver and Stanier 8F Locomotive Thistlegorm wreck Red Sea. This image is much more impactful in B&W


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Moray being cleaned by shrimp works well in B&W creating a spooky look which grabs the viewers’ attention

Moody image of diver in Southern Red Sea caves

of the strong contrast between light and dark, but these are excellent tools to use in black and white images. Also, on grey overcast days, when we lose so much light underwater, consider shooting in black and white and you will be surprised how different your images look. Maybe change your normal settings and purposely look to overexpose or underexpose, changing settings gradually to see what turns out best for you. The dark shades can never really be too dark as they make the lighter and white shades stand out and this will really help your images to pop. So, don’t be afraid in post processing to push the sliders to check out the effect on your images. Experienced black and white photographers see their potential images without colour. They look for deep shadows and contrast and the grey grades between black and white, light and dark. This is something you have to train yourself to see and it is certainly worthwhile looking for a suitable scene underwater to try out and practice. I know a lot of underwater photographers, me included, who often come across a great scene or a great moment of action but their normal colour shot does not work. It could be an odd colour cast or perhaps the camera settings were not quite right, or the direction with the sun was wrong and the fantastic opportunity just doesn’t produce an image with the wow factor they wanted. If you are savvy you will try a black and white conversion in post processing and chances are that the picture takes on a different perspective and the impact of the moment is restored (image 4). There are quite a few things which contribute to black and

white images. There has to be a reason for the image not to be in colour. Think about the shot and if you can’t come up with a reason for it not to be in colour then maybe simply its not meant to be anything other than in colour. Black and white pictures can look great, but they don’t always so don’t change just for the hell of it. You can get used to the types of images that will work simply by clicking on the black and white tab in post processing to see what they look like as you scroll through your collection of images. Another way is to use your cameras menu to switch to monochrome or black and white and when you shoot, all the pictures will appear without any colour.


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Martyn has been diving for over 30 years and taking underwater images for nearly as long. He is a well-known and successful underwater photographer with many successes in National and International competitions and regularly makes presentations to Camera and Photography clubs and Dive shows as well as The British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSOUP) and other underwater photography groups. Today he shares his passion and knowledge - As well as teaching personalized underwater photography courses he leads overseas workshop trips for Scuba Travel and his articles regularly appear in Scuba Diver Magazine.

Photo Finish


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UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY You then don’t have to visualize the black and white image it is there for you to see. If your camera is also set to take Raw files (which I seriously recommend you do) you will taking images with as much information as your camera can provide so when you process the images they will appear as colour so you haven’t lost any of the information in the photo file. You then have to convert back to black and white to see what you saw in the cameras LCD when you were taking the shot. If you subsequently prefer the colour image, then you have all the file information and you are not losing any flexibility. In film days we simply wouldn’t be able to do this as when shooting in black and white, specific film was used which would not render any colour at all. The famous photographer Ansel Adams reportedly said that he got so used to black and white that ‘I can get a far greater sense of colour through a well planned and executed black and white image than I ever achieved with color photography’. There are various elements which make a good black and white image. Contrast – an image with high contrast provides impact. Which is what you want if your images are to stand out. Shadows can become part of the subject itself and also a major part of the composition leading the eye into the frame. Shadows often have a significant part to play in a black and white image – be careful and look at the image carefully as you might need to adjust the composition. Texture can really be shown off well with black and white. If I come across a potential subject that has course texture such as a shark (see image 5), then high contrast and good lighting with black and white can transform how the texture is viewed. Composition - think carefully about composition. There can be a big difference between an image with colour that needs to be composed so that the colours work together. In black and white there is not this complication, but darker almost black parts of the image will appear much stronger and effect the way the image is composed. Black and white shows off the texture of the shark’s skin


There are a number of ways that you can make black and white images. I use a piece of software called Silver EFEX pro2 by NIK Collection. It is relatively inexpensive. It is easy to set up your Lightroom so that you can move in the development module from LR to Silver EFEX Black and white can work well for abstract high and back. There contrast images – skin of a puffer fish are loads of presets to flick through, easy tutorials and the software can be bought cost effectively with a suite of other NIK software processing tools such as noise reduction and sharpening. In Lightroom the easiest way to convert images to black and white is to toggle B&W at the top of the basic panel or just press V on your keyboard. You can also convert to B&W by reducing saturation or depending on camera by changing the profile under camera calibration to monochrome. The best way to convert however is to use the HSL panel and click on B&W and adjust individual colours in the black and white mix. Be careful though as big adjustments can add noise to the image. Think about increasing contrast and reducing brightness to enhance the difference between the light and dark tones in your image. You can also look at reducing contrast and lightening shadows to provide a more underexposed look. Remember that black and white photography removes any distraction potentially created by colour. This can help the viewer to focus on other key elements of the image such as the subject itself, as well as shapes and patterns. Black and white can be excellent for abstract images. Find a suitable patterned subject underwater and maybe just use one strobe to the side of the camera to cast shadows across the frame which will help to add to the impact of the image (image 6). I really recommend that you search out black and white images from other photographers and check out what you particularly like and then try to emulate that particular style next time you are underwater or converting library images. n

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Jean-Pierre Nathrass showcases seven of the top dive sites in Raja Ampat, and presents a list of creatures large and small you should expect to encounter PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRANDON CELINE




hile the Last Paradise is an incredible tropical destination, with many white beaches lined with coconut trees and blue waters, it is underwater where Raja Ampat really comes to life. Known as the most-diverse marine ecosystem in the world, these warm tropical waters offer the best diving experience for divers of all levels. The waters of the Dampier Straits that separate the islands of Waigeo and Bantana are where you will find over 100 of the world’s best dive sites. From gentle slope dives, incredible walls, and unique jetty dives, Raja Ampat has it all. These colourful dive sites are home to at least 75 percent of the world’s known coral species, where over 1,000 species of fish and 700 species of molluscs make their home in these nutrient-rich waters and dense coral formations. From the incredibly rare and small pygmy seahorse that can be spotted by the eager eyed and patient to the majestic oceanic manta rays that dance and glide over the shallow reefs in the summer months, divers who visit are treated to a diving experience that is unrivalled. Raja reefs are vibrant and colourful

Shoal of snapper


Some sites can be snorkelled


Raja Ampat is known for its incredibly diverse marine life and the large number of dive sites the area has to offer. While every dive site has unique attractions and worth the visit, we have compiled a list of our favourites. Melissa’s Garden - Near the Fam Islands in the West of Raja Ampat, three inconspicuous islands give no indication that below is one of the most-biodiverse dive sites in the world. Melissa’s Garden is a shallow large pinnacle with gentle slopes that stretch between the above islands. The fields of coral that grow on the reef are hugely impressive. A sea of colours as far as the eye can see. With groups of the same colour growing together it is easy to think that these corals were planted. Among the colourful hard coral growth thousands of fish swim. Divers often comment that when diving Melissa’s Garden there is too much to see and take in. This site is all that makes Raja Ampat the best diving destination in the world. Sauwandarek Jetty - This is an utterly unique dive site. From the large schools of fish that are found under the jetty to the massive turtles that make their homes in the sloping reef, Sauwandarek Jetty is an easy dive site to navigate and boasts some of the most-impressive coral growth and marine life that makes your jaw drop. This dive site is part of a coral regrowth programme and many wire structures, including an airplane can be seen near the jetty sporting new corals. This is the perfect dive site for divers and snorkellers to experience masses of fish on the colourful shallow reefs. Mike’s Point - A single uninhabited island marks this incredible dive site, that is found in the centre of the Dampier Strait. This pinnacle has a unique topography found on a dive site. One side of this pinnacle is home to a wall that stretches into the depths and is lined with overhangs, small caverns, and large boulders where large groups of grouper and sweetlips can be found. On the other side the reef gently slopes where fields of colourful coral are home to smaller schooling fish and macro marine life. This is a dive site that cannot be described in words but rather needs to be experienced. Neu Reef - A relatively undived reef, Neu Reef lies in a massive reef system with many different dive sites. What sets Neu Reef apart from the rest is the incredible diversity that can be found on this slope dive. When dived in stronger


Divers exploring the reefs

When dived in stronger currents, the reef is home to thousands of schooling fish, from fusilier, snapper and barracuda that can be seen hovering above the soft coral growth

Blacktip reef sharks

Sponges and corals brighten up the reef


Situated in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Meridian Adventure Dive is a PADI five-star Resort and winner of the PADI Green Star award. Scuba divers enjoy the professional service that has become synonymous with both the PADI and Meridian Adventure names. The sweeping spine of Indonesia’s archipelago is an underwater treasure trove, and the Raja Ampat Islands are often overlooked. Raja Ampat is one of Indonesia’s most captivating diving grounds and is truly a paradise on earth. WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM.AU


As you make your way between these pinnacles you can expect to see barracuda, wobbegong sharks and many reef sharks

Raja Ampat’s reefs are world famous

currents, the reef is home to thousands of schooling fish, from fusilier, snapper and barracuda that can be seen hovering above the soft coral growth. While on the slack tides, the reef is perfect to hunt for countless macro creatures, from the tiny pygmy seahorse to the blue ring octopus. One totally unique sighting that divers can look forward to are the garden eels that are found int the sandy patches between the slopes of Neu Reef. Mayhem - Do not let the name fool you, the dive itself is an easy pinnacle dive, the mayhem is in the masses of marine life that converge on this dive site. Mayhem is home to masses of reef sharks and the occasional manta sighting. Mayhem is the perfect dive site to just. Relax and look at all the life around you. Citrus Ridge - Tucked away in the Yangelo area, Citrus Ridge is found in the channel that runs through the islands of the region. The stronger currents that flow through this cut brings masses of fish that group together between the citruscoloured soft coral growth that is found on the pinnacles that gives the site its name. As you make your way between these pinnacles you can expect to see barracuda, wobbegong sharks and many reef sharks. End of the dive in the shallows in the clear waters of the mangrove forests that line the coastline of this area. Cape Kri - This might be one of the most-famous dive sites in Raja Ampat. This slope dive is found by the island of Kri and the reef stretches for hundreds of metres. The deep waters off the slope and the location of the island are the perfect combination for large game fish sightings. The stronger currents that flow around this dive site attracts large numbers of tuna, giant trevally, and reef sharks. For those who prefer pelagic life. This is the dive for you.

sizes, with most not being much larger than the size of your pinkie nail. These seahorses will spend their entire lives on the same patch of coral but are still incredibly elusive. Sea turtles - of the seven species of sea turtles, four of which can be found in Raja Ampat. Green, hawksbill, leatherback and olive ridleys all call the region their home. These turtles can be found on many dive sites in the area and often more than one will be seen on the same dive. Some are also known to make nests on certain dive sites and have grown to very impressive sizes. Epaulette shark - The epaulette shark also known as the walking shark is part of the carpet shark family and a unique sight to see. These small sharks are found on shallow reefs in the area where the hide from predators while feeding on smaller fish and molluscs in the tidal pool. Once the water level drops, these sharks are found walking on land. These unique sharks can survive on land for a few hours on end and make use of their long tails and pectoral fins to move around. Blue-ringed octopus - This tiny and highly toxic octopus is found in the shallow reefs of Raja Ampat. This octopus has distinct vivid blue rings that decorate their bodies, but do not be fooled by their impressive looks. These tiny creatures are highly toxic, and their venom can kill 26 human adults in minutes. While this octopus is incredible to observe to keep your distance when you spot one. Dugong - While not a common sighting, Raja Ampat is home to a unique marine mammal. The dugong can be found in the shallow seagrass areas found in many bays in Raja Ampat. The mammals are related to the more common and well-known manatees. The dugong has been given the nickname of mermaids by the local community. These incredibly shy animals can grow up to two metres and 300kg in size, but are gentle when encountered.


With the incredible marine diversity and dive sites that cater to all levels of divers, Raja Ampat must be a visit destination for all those who want to be truly surrounded by the underwater world. n


The most-biodiverse marine ecosystem in the world. On your visit to Raja Ampat keep an eye out for some of the most unique and rare creatures in the world. Manta ray - Mantas can be seen in numerous diving destinations, but Raja Ampat is the only place in the world were the oceanic and reef mantas can be seen interacting on the same reefs. These mantas can be found during the summer months on popular dive sites like Blue Magic and Manta Sandy. Pygmy seahorse - Raja Ampat is home to hundreds of macro marine creatures. One of the rarest is the pygmy seahorse. These tiny seahorses come in many colours and


Snorkelling on the reef


WRECK HUNTERS SEASON ONE 2021 Barefoot luxury in the heart of Indonesia

Calling would-be undersea detectives! A unique opportunity to take part in the beginning of a diving archaeology programme is opening up in the summer of 2021* on the Caribbean island of Utila. The Wreck Hunters project is offering a onemonth, limited availability window for divers to be a part of the Season One team. This all-inclusive package (prices to be announced on the website) is about getting to the heart of the story of a wreck called ‘The Oliver’, its rich history and the life of 18th Century mariners. Learn the skills of undersea archaeology, from traditional to cutting edge techniques. If you’re a relatively experienced diver (PADI Advanced Open Water with at least 30 dives), or equivalent (See website for full details), this could be just what you’re looking for. Project Director Mike Haigh’s ideal candidates have a ‘good sense of humour’ and enjoy team work.

So if you think this project would help put a smile on your face, why not get in touch to find out more at

Bunaken National Marine Park *COVID restrictions may result in a change of operation dates.

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ith domestic and international borders closed for months, many divers have been booking dive trips in their home state, so as domestic borders start to open, now is definitely the time to start thinking about where you’d like to go in 2021. But as has been said so often, we’re tedious with the phrase: ‘welcome to the new normal’. With COVID-19 social distancing rules, many dive resorts and liveaboards have reduced capacity, some are still closed, most liveaboards have changed their schedules and itineraries, and some are already fully booked until after the Easter holidays. Read our guide on where to go, and when. With most operators offering flexible booking terms, we highly recommend booking now for a mid-year holiday – with reduced capacity, places will fill fast. Start thinking now for trips from April onwards.


If you’re in WA, whaleshark season continues until late-April on Ch=ristmas Island, and it’s the start of whaleshark season on the Ningaloo Reef.


Lord Howe Island has limited availability in May, as do Lady Elliot and Heron Islands, but worth booking soon as they will disappear fast. May is the start of manta season on Lady Elliot, another good reason to lock something in. May is also peak season for great white sharks at the world-famous Shark Café off the Neptune Islands, and there are a few spaces left on the MV Rodney Fox. It’s also the start of the giant cuttlefish aggregation in Whyalla.


June and July is minke whale season on the Ribbon Reefs in the far north Great Barrier Reef. Snorkelling with these intelligent, inquisitive creatures is described by all who experience an encounter as life changing. Seven-day minke whale tours are available with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Divers Den – 2021 tours are almost fully-booked already. © Tourism Australia

© Scott Portelli


July and August is peak manta season on Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Island. While it’s possible to see mantas in the Southern Great Barrier Reef year-round, they are usually present in greater numbers in the winter months. Mid-July is also the start of humpback whale season on the Ningaloo Reef, with day trips available with Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks. If you time your trip well, you could even swim with both humpbacks and whalesharks.


WA’s remote Rowley Shoals can only be dived for a short window between late-September and November – and these tours book out years in advance. Be prepared for pristine coral, beautiful swim-throughs and exciting drift dives!

NOV/DEC – INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS AND FAR NORTH QLD – TURTLE NESTING SEASON This is a great time to dive Cocos Keeling Islands – and November sometimes sees the start of the famous red crab migration on Christmas Island, as well as the start of whaleshark season, which continues until April.

November is also the start of turtle nesting season in Far North Queensland, with special expeditions to the reefs surrounding Raine Island (book now for 2022), where you’ll likely dive with hundreds of turtles, available with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. Turtles can also be seen in great numbers on Heron and Lady Elliot Islands between November and April. n



Great tuition from beginner through to instructor training for family groups, small groups and one-to-one training. We are a PADI 5-Star IDC centre and offer 18 PADI Specialty course options on our Master Scuba Diver program.

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Make an appointment for our personal fitting service, great for anyone wanting to get kitted out with scuba. We specialise in divers under 55kg and over 100kg with options to make you comfortable under water. 40 unique brands to choose from, we fit divers of all sizes.

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While not as well known as the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Southern Reef is the catalyst for many of Australia’s most-famous underwater experiences and encounters PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHELSEA HAEBICH



The above-water scenery is equally beautiful

Colourful wall on the Great Southern Reef


sk any interstate diver about South Australia and they will probably mention one of three things to you that they know about diving here – great white sharks, leafy sea dragons and giant cuttlefish. While each of these remarkable creatures varies wildly to the next in form and function, they all owe their uniqueness and specialization to one powerhouse of an entity - the Great Southern Reef. However, until recently the importance, dynamics, beauty and richness of this huge reef system was largely unrecognized and much still remains undiscovered. So, what is the Great Southern Reef and why dive it here in South Australia? While Australia is famed for its spectacular tropical coral reef systems, found in places like Ningaloo in Western Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, to the south of these destinations lies cooler waters that are rich in nutrients and feed one of the mostpowerful, productive temperate ecosystems on the planet. Consequently, it’s full of unique lifeforms. So, for divers, this huge natural powerhouse gives ample opportunity to discover new destinations and animals not seen anywhere else in the world. So, where do you start? Let’s look at what makes the Great Southern Reef so… well, great! Bordering almost half of Australia’s land mass, the Great Southern Reef covers approximately 71,000 sq km and rivals the Great Barrier Reef for size and diversity. Its 8,000km network of reefs reach along Australia’s southern coastline and see it encompass five different states, from New South


Wales on the east coast, right around to Kalbarri, 500km north of Perth, in Western Australia. Geographically, as far as ice-free coastlines go, it’s the longest continuous temperate coastline in the southern hemisphere and because it runs east to west, the average mean temperature difference is relatively small across the whole length of the reef. The range of habitats that adjoin the Reef also vary from protective mangroves and mudflats, to exposed, energetic rocky coastlines, sheltered reefs, towering kelp forests and sandy beaches. Within this temperate ocean reef system, bioregions have also formed. In South Australia, this is due to two distinct currents and its geography. The most dominant is the Leeuwin current. Warm waters forge their way south, along Western Southern blue devil


This seasonal ‘isolation’ as well as the relative geographical isolation of the Gulfs has meant flora and fauna, often found nowhere else, have continued to evolve and exploit this area

Giant cuttlefish

Leafy sea dragon

Australia’s coast, turning at Cape Leeuwin to head east across the Great Australian Bight. Covering a significant length of the overall Great Southern Reef, these warm temperate waters reach all the way to Kangaroo Island and the west coast of Tasmania. Here it meets the cool temperate upwelling waters of the Flinders current from the south-eastern oceans of Australia. Pushed up from the continental shelf off the coast, it brings cold nutrient-rich water to this area. Both these currents mix around Kangaroo Island making this area a very productive and distinct marine environment. Testament to this is the well-known lobster, abalone and fishing industries that have developed, and the sea lion colonies of the Neptune and Pearson Islands. All supported by the abundant fish life found there. The most unique region of South Australia’s portion of the Great Southern Reef are the two Gulfs - Spencer Gulf, the home of the giant cuttlefish migration, and the Gulf of St Vincent, of which the capital city Adelaide overlooks. What is unique about these Gulfs is that during the warmer parts of the year, they effectively become isolated marine environments. Water, warming and evaporating, raises the salinity, water density and average temperature, creating a boundary where the open ocean currents don’t mix as easily. This seasonal ‘isolation’ as well as the relative geographical


isolation of the Gulfs has meant flora and fauna, often found nowhere else, have continued to evolve and exploit this area. This makes it a mecca for macro photographers looking for something different to add to their experiences. Here in the Gulfs, fantastic shore diving exists from Jetties that reach out into these southern temperate waters. As well, there are many reef and wrecks that scatter the coastlines, easily accessible by boat. The wrecks act as artificial extensions of the rocky reef system and allow divers to explore the life that settles in the deeper reaches of the Great Southern Reef. Despite these varying bioregions when you drop under the surface at any one of the shore, or offshore dive sites, apart from the temperature difference to the tropics, there is one main feature consistent with the entire reef and underpins its entire ecology. The blue-green waters are beautifully contrasted with one of my favorite kelps, the golden kelp (Ecklonia radiata). This key species of kelp is the backbone of the Great Southern Reef and is also its most visually identifiable feature. It creates shelter, food and habitat for breeding for a huge range of species in the ecosystem. Ecklonia radiata is a species that is found the entire length of the Reef, working like a forest canopy for the life that resides under it.


Jetty dives are very popular

If you are not one for packing the macro camera or searching for the tiny things, these kelp beds offer up some ruggedly beautiful underwater landscapes to immerse yourself in. If the marine micro world doesn’t appeal and swaying landscapes of kelp aren’t your thing and you need even more variety, you can also choose between many accessible wrecks encrusted with sponges, offshore sponge gardens and shallow seagrass meadows. All these diverse landscapes make up the Great Southern Reef. Fortunately for divers, depending on what you are looking for, much of the Great Southern Reefs productivity, colour and energy exists in the relatively shallow coastal waters, less than 30m deep, allowing many easy opportunities to discover and explore what resides in this significant reef. With so much variety and uniqueness to be found, how do you go about diving this magical part of the Great Southern Reef? When I can escape from my daily grind and look to recharge, I am fortunate that I can easily immerse myself

Fortunately for divers, depending on what you are looking for, much of the Great Southern Reefs productivity, colour and energy exists in the relatively shallow coastal waters

Expect plenty of macro life too



The kelp reefs provide a rich habitat

You never know what you will encounter...

Life beneath the jetties Crab portrait

in this dynamic world and what it has on offer. Most of the diving is within an hour of my home in Adelaide, either by car to a shore dive, or by boat to one of the many wreck or reef systems. Accessibility is a big reason for visitors to dive the Great Southern Reef while here. It’s a huge drawcard having such an amazing Reef system, and the variety of habitats not found in the tropics, right here on your doorstep. Flying or driving into Adelaide you want to make your first port of call a dive shop. Most shops offer boat schedules, group shore dives and personal guiding services to get you to where you want to go. You only need to bring your wish list, and what you want of your dive gear as hiring what you need can be easily arranged. My personal preference would be to get yourself a professional guide and talk to them about what you want to see. They will be best informed to make the pick of the best sites and conditions to match your wish list. The next big question to ask yourself is what do you want to see! Kelp reefs, sponge gardens, grass meadows or wrecks? The variety of life and dive sites that the Great Southern Reef supports is amazing. If you are here for the kelp reefs that are home to the iconic leafy sea dragon, you might head down to dive the beautiful kelp wall of Victor Harbours’ The Bluff dive site.



While there don’t miss seeing the beautiful serpentine male herring cale sliding through the kelp or sneak a peek at a crayfish or two. Perhaps what you prefer is colour, so some offshore sponge walls are in order? My pick being the Aldinga Drop Off, a beautiful wall located in the Encounter Marine Park Sanctuary Zone. Here you will find blue devils, nudibranchs, gorgonian fans and a rainbow of colourful sponges, all vying for access to the nutrients in the passing current. Maybe you have read about South Australia’s treacherous maritime history and you wish to explore one or more of the many historic wrecks sitting just offshore? Encrusted with beautiful sponges and home to schooling and pelagic fish, you can get your fill of wide-angle and macro on many of these dives while indulging your thirst for some maritime history. Top of the list here for many is diving the ex-HMAS Hobart, a 133-metre missile destroyer that saw active service with the Royal Australian Navy until its decommission in 2000. Sitting in 30m and exposed to strong nutrient rich currents means it’s covered in anemones and sponges and a refuge for reef fish, large snapper and wrasse that hang out with you on your safety stop.

Blenny sporting vivid colours

The Great Southern Reef is very healthy

Top of the list here for many is diving the ex-HMAS Hobart, a 133-metre missile destroyer that saw active service with the Royal Australian Navy until its decommission in 2000 For something more relaxed and family inclusive, you might prefer the shallower dives that let you explore the vibrant green seagrass meadows that edge the shallower parts of the Great Southern Reef. Wool Bay, Port Victoria and Port Hughes are perfect destinations for a trip away and some slow diving in the grasses where stingrays are found foraging for crabs and pipefish watch your every move. There is so much to explore of this reef system that I have hardly scratched the surface. As divers wanting to explore a new world, to see something different, or add something to their ‘bucket list’, these cooler temperate waters, in my opinion, couldn’t be more enticing and so ruggedly beautiful. The more I dive into the Great Southern Reef, the more I learn and discover. It’s why I fell in love with diving here. Whatever your desire, well-equipped dive shops have boats, schedules and knowledgeable, passionate professionals to introduce you to South Australia’s part of the Great Southern Reef and now there couldn’t be a better time to do it.



With overseas travel restrictions looking set to be in place for some time to come, and divers needing to get their intrepid fix of nature, this rugged, challenging and beautiful reef will get more visitors and the attention and appreciation it deserves - and very much needs. Thankfully through science, diving, photography and tourism, its profile is lifting and it’s getting more protection. In a strange turn of events, COVID has had some positive impact. By turning people to look to their own backyards for adventure and new experiences, more and more people are discovering that there is more than one Great Reef system in Australia. Come down and explore it sometime. n



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Dive into



Don Silcock waxes lyrical about Papua New Guinea’s underwater delights

Over the


Exploring New Zealand’s Rainbow Warrior wreck


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he most-memorable events in the investigation of a historic wreck site tend to be the recovery of artefacts. Depending on the object being recovered, this can also become a high-profile event with media interest at some level or other. In this article, I will be looking at the recovery of large objects – both robust and fragile – from the seabed. In most situations where finds are recovered from the site, unless that material weighs less than a few kilograms, the object will have to be raised using some kind of assistance. In the UK, any person or company that owns, operates or has control over lifting equipment has to abide by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Regulations 1998, or LOLER for short. Although designed for the commercial environment, the four principles that LOLER set down for lifting operations should be followed by anyone involved in removing materials from the seabed. Namely: • Plan the operation properly • Use people who are sufficiently competent • Supervise them appropriately • Ensure that the ‘lift’ is carried out in a safe manner


To most divers, the instrument that would immediately jump to mind to use to raise objects would be a lifting bag. However, the operation of these tools can be fraught with danger, as a quick search on YouTube will demonstrate. So, we need to devote a little time to the safe use of lifting bags. Basically, lifting bags have two purposes, the lifting of an object or reducing the load of an object to a near-neutral state on the bottom - very useful if you want to move a heavy object a short distance. As we are here dealing with the recovery of objects, I will focus on the lifting process. The first matter to deal with is the size of bag to use. Ideally you want a bag 25-35 percent larger than is necessary. If the bag is too large, there is danger that it will break the surface, discharge its air and vanish back off into the depths, with whatever prize artefact is attached to it. This problem also occurs when the support crew attempt to recover the bag. It is a good idea to attach a length of floating rope to the bag so that two or three people can grab hold of it and pull it on board. Now under LOLER regulations, the recommendation for


rigging strops is 7:1. So, if you want to raise something weighing 50kg, you will need a rope or strop with a safe working load of 350kg. For attaching the rigging to the bag, small shackles or stainless-steel, locking karabiners are the best choice. It is also useful to attach a ‘holding-backline’ to the lifting bag (remember to use knots that can be undone under load); this will not be able to arrest an uncontrolled ascent, but at least will allow you to relocate the bag (and object) should things go wrong. Give plenty of thought to the attachment points on your load and try to get the centre of gravity about right. Many lifting bags are fitted with dump valves which can be operated by a diver; okay for short lifts but not a great idea for any reasonable depth. You get bent. The bag does not. Finally, always use a separate air source to inflate the bag. If you use a three- to seven-litre cylinder with a blow gun attachment, you can clip the cylinder to the bag and inflate using the blow gun. If Boyle’s law catches you out, it is just the cylinder that is heading for the surface and not you. An alternative to lifting bags is to use solid plastic drums, or any other non-expansive object that will hold air. Again, you need to select the correct size of drum for the lift – but in this case, any excess air will just escape from underneath the drum, leaving the buoyancy constant. If the object is not too heavy, even ‘pot’ buoys can do the job. Other methods involve the use of powered winches or the use of cranes. A word on packing. If you are raising delicate objects, then it is obvious that you will need to protect them from damage during the lifting process. However, the same principle applies to any object that is being raised that is of historical interest. The techniques that we have covered so far work well for more-robust items, a list that can include anchors, cannon, amphoras and even lead and copper ingots. But what about more delicate large objects? As part of the Wreck Hunters course, we will be covering the recovery of artefacts so that divers gain some experience in this area. Next time we will be looking at the techniques used to recover smaller objects, techniques that vary depending on the type of material in question.


Game Changer

They said the only way to stay warm when diving was with a wetsuit. Then we developed Chillproof and changed the thermal protection market with a revolutionary tri-laminate fabric essentially re-inventing the 3mm wetsuit. Now after years of development and testing we have created Titanium Chillproof, the next level of watersports protection. SHARKSKIN Titanium Chillproof features a new fabric that will revolutionise the way you dive.

Ryan Roberts Cave diving in Tulum, Mexico - 9 days of diving in 25 degrees c with an average of 3 hours underwater each day. “SHARKSKIN Chillproof Titanium kept me warm and very comfortable compared to my colleagues diving 5mm neoprene. Titanium Chillproof is a game changer!”

Powered by titanium nanotechnology to enhance warmth, increase circulation and improved metabolic function. Titanium Chillproof thermal properties are equivalent to 4.5mm to 5mm neoprene due to unique titanium nanotechnology that captures the bodies far infrared radiation to generate and retain your bodies heat. Neutrally buoyant, windproof, breathable, flexible, lightweight and antimicrobial – Titanium Chillproof is a Game Changer!


Test Extra

SHARKSKIN CHILLPROOF TITANIUM | SRP: ANZ$49-$299 Adrian Stacey: Sharkskin have recently launched their new range of thermal sportswear for divers, the Chillproof Titanium. Accompanying these new products have been phrases like ‘game-changing’, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘provides the warmth of a traditional 5mm wetsuit’. Like most people, getting in and out of a wetsuit is not something that I enjoy, so I was intrigued. When the opportunity came to test these garments on a recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef, I was genuinely excited to discover if these bold claims held any water! With the water temperature hovering around 25-26 degrees C, I would usually be wearing a 5mm wetsuit as I am prone to feeling the cold, especially when on a liveaboard doing multiple dives per day. On my first dive, I decided to put the claims by Sharkskin to the test and opted for the long sleeve zip-top and board shorts. The first thing that I noticed was how easy the fulllength zip made the garment to don and how comfortable the plush lining is. As this unique material does not compress, there is little need for compensation at depth, and as it is neutrally buoyant, there is no need for much additional weight to help you descend.



During my testing of this fantastic product, I was very comfortable for the entirety of my first dive. It was only by the final dive of the day that I did find my body temperature was dropping and that I required additional thermal protection. I opted to use the sleeveless top under the zip-top, and with this extra layer, I was pleasantly warm. I used this configuration for the remainder of the trip and did not feel cold once. It is windproof and dries quickly when it has been worn, so if you have a long RIB or boat journey after your dive, you do not get cold. The Sharkskin Chillproof Titanium offers a range of apparel, including a long-sleeve zip-top, a sleeveless vest, long pants, hood and socks. All garments are black, and I have to admit that they do look very stylish, with subtle logos and minimal branding. They are also reasonably priced, with the long-sleeve top coming in at $299, which is only slightly more than the original Chillproof long-sleeve zip top. These garments do stretch a little when wet, so it is worth making sure that they are snug when trying them on. In this day and age, when luggage space and weight is always a consideration when travelling, having a product that weighs very little and takes up very little spaces is a massive bonus. The Chillproof Titanium is stylish, extremely comfortable and most definitely lives up to its billing. Game-changing indeed.



Test Extra




Adrian Stacey: The Osprey F400 regulator is the top-of-the-range offering from Ocean Pro, an Australian manufacturer of high-quality scuba equipment. As their flagship regulators, my expectation was high, and I am pleased to say that these regulators did not disappoint. The F400 is excellent, aesthetically it looks very nice, but more importantly, it offers supurb performance. The environmentally sealed balanced first stage feels solid and well made. It is a compact unit that does not jut out from the tank value very far and therefore does not dig into the back of your head when looking up. The second stage is lightweight but feels robust and sturdy, and there is a large easy to use purge button at the front. Of particular note is the ease of breathing and the ability to fine-tune the airflow of these regulators. This can be done easily and quickly using the craqcking resistance control on the side of the second stage and, unlike some regulators that I have used, it really does make a difference to the amount of air been delivered. As a photographer I was impressed with how the Osprey performs in an inverted position and the dreaded wet breathe while photographing a subject when upside down is no longer a problem. Ocean Pro do not use any plastic packaging. The first and second stage arrive in an eco-friendly zip-up material box and are wrapped in a T-shirt, which I thought was a great idea. It would be good if the box were large enough to fit the regs and all gauges when fully assembled, but it is a perfect size for a comprehensive spares or medical kit. At a time when we become more and more aware of the impact we have on the environment, especially where plastics and the oceans are concerned, it is good to see a manufacturer stepping up and doing their bit.


I have now used these regulators on both of my recent trips to the Great Barrier Reef, and I have not been disappointed. They have been a fantastic bit of kit to dive with, the mouthpiece is comfortable, the airflow makes breathing effortless, and the commitment that Ocean Pro are making to safeguard the environment makes for a guilt-free purchase.






t: 02 4984 2092 e: a: 97 Stockton St, Nelson Bay, NSW, 2315 SDI/TDI SCUBA, Snorkelling, & Spearfishing Retail & Training Centre. Shore dives in marine sanctuary, grey nurse shark double boat dives.

t: 07 34098888 e: a: 132 Dickson way, Point Lookout, QLD 4183 Amazing diving all year round. Manta Rays, Sharks, turtles and whales along with a huge variety of marine life.

LETS GO ADVENTURES t: 02 4981 4331 e: a: Shop 8W, d’Albora Marina, Teramby Rd, Nelson Bay, NSW, 2315 PADI facility Introductory dives through to Instructor Courses. Guided shore & boat trips for divers & snorkellers. Retail Sales & Servicing.

SCUBA HAVEN t: 0407 457 542 e: a: 20 Merrigal Rd, Port Macquarie, NSW, 2444 SCUBA Diving Port Macquarie and Laurieton Areas. Offering Dive trips, Courses, Introductory dives, Sales and services.

SOUTH WEST ROCKS DIVE CENTRE t: +612 6566 6474 e: a: 98 Gregory Street, South West Rocks, NSW Australia’s best Shark and Cave dive. Family owned and operated for over 40 Years.

WINDANG DIVE & SPEARFISHING t: 02 4296 4215 e: a: Shop 1, 239 Windang Road, Windang, NSW, 2528 Scuba Diving Courses to Instructor. Spearfishing needs and servicing of all brands of scuba and spearfishing.

QUEENSLAND BUNDABERG AQUA SCUBA t: 07 4153 5761 e: a: 17 Walla Street, Bundaberg, QLD, 4670 Bundaberg has world class wreck diving sites, access to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the best coral reef shore diving in Queensland.

LADY ELLIOT ISLAND ECO RESORT t: +61 7 5536 3644 e: a: Lady Elliot Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef, QLD Lady Elliot Island ‘Home of the Manta Ray’ boasts 20 incredible dive sites and is renowned for amazing marine encounters.


WESTERN AUSTRALIA SOUTHCOAST DIVING SUPPLIES t: 08 98417176 e: a: 84b Serpentine Road, Albany, Western Australia, 6330 Diving Albany means diving anything from wrecks to reef, plunging drop offs to awesome canyons with unbelievable colours and fishlife.

OZAQUATEC SCUBA SERVICE CENTRE t: 07 3399 1413 e: a: 4/89 Gosport St, Hemmant QLD 4171 Brisbane’s largest SCUBA servicing centre. Servicing all brands of SCUBA gear, Air/Nitrox fills and SAI Global accredited Test Station for all your tank hydro needs.



t: (03) 9939 4913 e: a: Unit 17/30-34 Maffra Street, Coolaroo, Victoria, 3048 A fully equipped SCUBA service centre with a passion for servicing so we can safely explore the underwater world!

t: 07 4041 1600 e: a: Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street, Cairns, QLD Dive, snorkel and sail the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns onboard a sailing catamaran with locally owned Passions of Paradise.

t: 03 9702 3694 e: a: 11/53-57 Rimfire Drive, Hallam, Victoria, 3803 DGA is a PADI 5 star training dive store with a huge range of scuba diving, snorkelling and spearfishing gear.

SCUBA WORLD t: 07 5444 8595 e: a: 207 Brisbane Road, Mooloolaba, 4557 QLD, Australia We create safe, comfortable, enthusiastic divers who always have a fun, personal and enjoyable experience at Scuba World.

TASMANIA EAGLEHAWK DIVE CENTRE t: 0417013518 e: a: 178 Pirates Bay Drive, Eaglehawk Neck, TAS, 7179 We have world-class temperate water diving, with sites suitable for divers with skill levels from novice to advanced technical.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA RODNEY FOX SHARK EXPEDITIONS t: 08 8363 1788 e: a: 107 Henley Beach Road, Mile End, SA, 5031 Great white sharks, SCUBA, Ocean Floor Cage, Surface Cage, Australian Sea Lions and our own wine all on the 32m liveaboard MV Rodney Fox!


SCUBA CULTURE PTY LTD t: 03 9808 0033 e: a: 117 Highbury Road, Burwood, Victoria 3125 Full service dive shop providing equipment sales, service, hire, training, dive club, dive travel and air/ nitrox fills.

WARRNAMBOOL DIVING t: 03 5562 1685 e: a: 179A Fairy Street, Warrnambool VIC 3280 Warrnambool offer some of the best shore dives along the great ocean road with access to the ship wreck coast.


ONLY $42 Contact Adrian on WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM.AU +61 422 611 238 or email


NEW ZEALAND AUKLAND AQUATECH t: +64 2156 3563 e: a: 4 WOULDBANK Way, Welcome Bay Aquatech is a scuba service centre. We service scuba regulators / full face masks / oxygen regulators. Underwater Scooters.



t: 09 988 9508 e: a: 108 Cameron Street, Whangarei, NZ Friendliest dive shop in town. Stocker of Hollis, Ratio Dive computers, Atomic Aquatics, Bare, Oceanic and Zeagle.

t: +64 9217 4892 e: a: 110 Ocean View Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island, Auckland, NZ, 1081 NZ’s most fun little dive shop! We’re your choice for online retail, diving & snorkeling adventures – just 35 mins from Auckland CBD!

DIVING ACADEMY LTD (AUCKLAND SCUBA) t: +64 9478 2814 e: a: 49B Arrenway Drive, Auckland 5* PADI centre, beginner to Instructor courses (student loan approved), quality equipment retail, rebreathers, scooters, dive trips, servicing, air fills.

GLOBAL DIVE t: +64 9920 5200 e: a: 132 Beaumont Street, Westhaven, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand NZ’s Premium Dive Store. Leaders in Training, Servicing and Travel. Home of Fourth Element, OMS, Shearwater, XDeep, Light&Motion, DUI, Cinebags.



DIVE ZONE WHITIANGA t: +64 7867 1580 e: a: 10 Campbell Street, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand Dive charters, training, service and retail store. Many and varied dive spots. Beautiful coastal town location. Offshore islands & Marine Reserve.

GO DIVE PACIFIC t: 0274 344 874 e: a: 66 Wellington Street, Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand Dive one of the biggest cruise ship wrecks in the world, the Mikhail Lermontov, suitable for recreational to advanced technical divers.






t: 09 438 1075 e: a: 41 Clyde St, Whangarei We’re Northland’s largest SCUBA, Spearfishing & Freedive retail store offering great deals on gear along with SCUBA and Freedive courses.

t: 09 426 9834 e: a: 8 Keith Hay Court, Silverdale, Auckland, New Zealand Air, Nitrox & Trimix fills. SSI & TDI Rec, Tech & Rebreather courses. 2 dive boats. Brands: Hollis, Oceanic, Zeagle, Atomic, Bare/Stahlsac service centre.

t: +64 9402 7551 e: a: 7 Williams Rd, Paihia 0247, New Zealand We run daily trips to the Canterbury wreck, The Rainbow Warrior wreck and reef sites in the Bay of Islands.

t: 04 939 3483 e: a: 432 The Esplanade Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand Wellington’s Padi 5 Star Centre, right across the road from Taputeranga Marine Reserve. Come and dive or snorkel with us.













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300 species of sharks and rays threatened with extinction The WWF reports that are than 300 species of sharks and rays now threatened with extinction


ew assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released in December show 316 chondrichthyan species – sharks, rays and skates, and chimaeras – are now threatened with extinction. The Red List updates include over 420 assessments of shark and ray species, of which 154 species are classified as ‘threatened’, or at risk of extinction in the wild. Among them are four hammerhead shark species (Sphyrna family) and four species of angel shark (Squatina family) that are endangered or critically endangered, making them some of the mostthreatened shark families, as well as the giant manta ray (Mobula birostris), which is now facing a very high risk of extinction. “These findings are sadly predictable,” said Dr Andy Cornish, Leader of Sharks: Restoring the Balance, WWF’s global shark and ray conservation programme. “As IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group continues to pull the curtain back on the state of sharks and rays, the crisis should be triggering alarm bells for anyone who cares about the health of our ocean. Twenty years have passed since the international community recognised the threat of overfishing through the International Plan of Action for Sharks. Yet, obviously, not nearly enough has been done to halt the overfishing that is pushing these animals to the brink of extinction.” The IUCN update grimly notes that the first shark or ray species may already have gone extinct. The lost shark (Carcharhinus obsoletus) was classified as critically endangered (possibly extinct), meaning there is a chance it is already extinct in the wild, but more surveys are needed to prove that. As its ominous name suggests, this species was only described from museum specimens in 2019, so has been lost since the moment it was found. Of around 200 previously data deficient species, meaning the available information was not sufficient to evaluate their conservation status, 57 are now threatened. Together with the


case of the lost shark, this reveals an alarming trend when newly described species or those we do not know enough about are already in peril. This highlights the importance of species-specific information – particularly speciesspecific shark and ray fishing data – to allow for effective conservation. Since the last global Red List update for sharks and rays was conducted in 2014, these marine fishes are fast becoming one of the most threatened groups of vertebrates on the planet. “Governments must take measures that reduce the overfishing of sharks and rays as a matter of urgency,” Dr Cornish said. “We also desperately need to scale up efforts to recover populations of the most threatened species. Failure to do so will inevitably result in a wave of extinctions happening on our watch. We must seize the moment to stop that from happening. “We already have the solutions required in most cases. Management strategies effective in recovering populations are typically a combination of well-enforced catch limits or prohibitions on catching the species, together with protection of critical habitats. A nice example is the barndoor skate (Dipturus laevis), which has recovered sufficiently to no longer be threatened with extinction. “Our ocean is in crisis due to pollution, climate change and overexploitation of marine life on a massive scale. Sharks and rays, which have evolved over 400 million years ago, are among the worst affected by overfishing. Populations continue to decline, and yet over 1,000 shark and ray species play various key roles in marine ecosystems, making them intertwined with the health of our ocean and the people who depend on it.” n




There are many moments like this in the future.


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