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WHY WAKATOBI?:

FINNING TECHNIQUES:

TALKING TECHNICAL:

10 REASONS THIS DIVE HOTSPOT DESERVES TO BE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST

OUR PANEL OF INDUSTRY GURUS OFFER SOME HOT TIPS TO HAVE YOU LOOKING LIKE A PRO

IANTD SUPREMO PHIL SHORT DISCUSSES HIS GROUNDBREAKING EXPEDITIONS

ISSUE 1 | APR/MAY 18 | $6.95

Spearfishing

‣ Yongala ‣

NZ’s Rainbow Warrior

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Welcome to the first issue of SCUBA DIVER ASIA-PACIFIC Scuba Diver magazine has rapidly established itself as the freshest, most-innovative diving title in the UK since it burst on to the scene in early-2017, and now the team (who between them boast more than 30 years in the diving industry) are expanding into an exciting new arena - the Asia-Pacific region. Scuba Diver Asia-Pacific is a bespoke magazine servicing Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, and each month will be packed with information on local diving hotspots as well as features on locations throughout Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and beyond. Readers will also find a host of comprehensive equipment reviews, alongside up-to-the-minute global

EDITOR IN CHIEF

Mark Evans Email: mark.evans@scubadivermag.com

Ross Arnold Email: ross.arnold@scubadivermag.com

MAGAZINE

CONTRIBUTORS

PUBLISHERS

Stuart Philpott, Jason Brown, Gavin Anderson, Al Hornsby, Richard Smith, Martyn Guess

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MARK EVANS, Editor-in-Chief

ADVERTISING & SPONSORSHIP

DESIGN

Matt Griffiths Email: matt@griffital.com

diving news, useful hints and advice from a panel of acknowledged industry experts, educational columns, competitions, and interesting Q&As with diving icons. Whatever your diving interests, Scuba Diver AsiaPacific has got you covered, with dedicated sections on underwater photography, technical diving, freediving and spearfishing. We also work closely with all of the main training agencies, including PADI, SSI, TDI/SDI, GUE, IANTD and RAID. Visit your local dive centre today and pick up your FREE copy of Scuba Diver Asia-Pacific.

To stock Scuba Diver in your centre, email: subscriptions@scubadivermag.com Rork Media Limited Tel: +44 (0) 800 069 8140 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden,

London, England, WC2H 9JQ Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the publishers. Copyright for material published remains with Rork Media Limited. Use of material from Scuba Diver is strictly prohibited unless permission is given. All advertisements of which the creative content is in whole or in part the work of Rork Media Limited remain the copyright of Rork Media Limited.

ISSN 2515-9593

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WHY WAKATOBI?:

FINNING TECHNIQUES:

TALKING TECHNICAL:

10 REASONS THIS DIVE HOTSPOT DESERVES TO BE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST

OUR PANEL OF INDUSTRY GURUS OFFER SOME HOT TIPS TO HAVE YOU LOOKING LIKE A PRO

IANTD SUPREMO PHIL SHORT DISCUSSES HIS GROUNDBREAKING EXPEDITIONS

ON THE COVER

+

Spearfishing

p001_APScubaDiverApr18.indd 1

‣ Yongala ‣

NZ’s Rainbow Warrior

Medical Q&A

ISSUE 1 | APR/MAY 18 | FREE

WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

PHOTOGRAPHER: GAVIN ANDERSON

02/03/2018 07:56

REGULAR COLUMNS

FEATURES

Dedicated underwater photography workshop, and an ultra-rare fish found off Tasmania.

Our Brit-Down-Under Adrian Stacey heads off the Australian coast from Ayr to dive the iconic shipwreck of the SS Yongala, which went down in 1911 taking all 122 people on board with her.

8 News

26 Dive like a Pro

A panel of training agency experts offer advice on different finning techniques.

36 Underwater photography

Martyn Guess offers some tips on getting the most out of your macro photography.

62 Our-World UW Scholar

Introducing Olivia Johnson, the 2018 Our-World Underwater Scholar for Australasia.

82 The Zen Diver

Kids Sea Camp’s Tom Peyton explains how to use diving to create the ultimate ‘chill-out’ zone.

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20 Australia

30 New Zealand

The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 by the French Secret Service had international repercussions for France, but now the vessel has a new lease of life as an artificial reef in Matauri Bay in the Cavalli Islands.

40 Indonesia

Well-travelled photo-journalist Walt Stearns is an avid fan of the luxurious Wakatobi Dive Resort in Indonesia, and here he provides ten reasons why this hotspot should be on your diving bucket list.

46 FREEDIVING: Interview with a Mermaid

Scuba Diver talks to Linden Wolbert, who has managed to carve out a niche for herself as one of the world’s top professional mermaids. Plus, a review of BodyGlove’s child-size monofin.

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CONTENTS

50 SPEARFISHING: News and What’s New

Some hot new shiny additions to the spearfishing marketplace, including a laser targeting system, plus a survey about Taravana Syndrome among spearos, and a look at New Zealand’s ‘code of practice’.

54 Australia

Leafy seadragons are one of the most weird-and-wonderful creatures yet to be found in our vast oceans, and Gavin Anderson was determined to capture them on camera when he visited Rapid Bay Jetty.

63 Divers Alert Network Asia-Pacific

Each month, DAN AP will examine a potential diving incident and how it can be avoided (if possible), or best dealt with after the event. This issue, why oxygen first-aid is the most-important first aid for injured divers.

66 TECHNICAL: Q&A with Phil Short

IANTD supremo Phil Short is the man to go to when you want to explore somewhere exceptionally deep, or far inside some unexplored cave system. We chatted to him about his career, and what the future holds.

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GEAR GUIDE 72 What’s New

New products recently released or coming soon, including the Finnsub Speleo, Fourth Element Xerotherm and Aqualung Phazer fins.

74 Group Test

The Scuba Diver Test Team heads to North Wales to trial a selection of budget-priced regulators.

78 Test Extra

The Mares Dragon SLS BCD is given the once-over by editor-in-chief Mark Evans.

80 Long Term Test

The Scuba Diver Test Team gets to grips with a selection of products over a six-month period, including the Aqualung Outlaw BCD, Apeks XL4 regulator and the Fourth Element X-Core vest.

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NEWS

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 social media. www.scubadivermag.com/news | .com/scubadivermag | @scubadivermag

Volunteer divers in Australia have carried out a record-breaking mission killing nearly 47,000 crown-of-thorns starfish in seven days on the southern Great Barrier Reef. The starfish were found in their thousands months ago, eating through sections of Swains Reef which is located 250 kilometres off the central coast of Queensland. It was Gladstone charter operator Bruce Stobo who led the team of 25 divers on the nine day mission. Mr Stobo, told ABC Radio Australia: “They tell me, unofficially, that it’s the most amount of starfish that [have] been killed in a single trip in that time.” Stobo, who donated his catamaran to the mission, has been working on the Swain Reefs for 21 years with his boat charter and dive equipment businesses. He was compelled to act after he learned of the destructive outbreak which was in his ‘backyard’. Queensland Parks and Wildlife identified the crown-of-thorns starfish infestation during a survey in November 2017, yet the divers were taken aback by the the number they found. The starfish were so abundant in certain areas that they were ‘piling on top of each other to get to the coral’. Similar missions have culled up to 30,000 crownof-thorns starfish. Mr Stobo told the publication: “Everyone was absolutely surprised. We had professional divers on board who’ve been working up north, and one in particular who’s been doing it for eight months full-time, and he said it was the most that he’s seen in one area.” The divers conducted the mission in groups of 12, each diving three times per day, for an hour each dive. The starfish were injected with bile salts, with divers competing with swells and currents while they set about the huge task at hand. “For the first couple of days, we did training on board so we were getting our technique right and after day two, we got into the thick of it and the weather was fantastic, so it allowed us access to some huge aggregations,” Stobo told ABC. Queensland Parks and Wildlife were also involved in the expedition, surveying the reef and pinpointing concentrations of starfish. The mission coincides with the Australian Government’s $60m Great Barrier Reef Protection Plan to improve the health of the reef.

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PHOTO CREDIT: MARK EVANS

DIVERS KILL ALMOST 47,000 CROWN-OFTHORNS STARFISH ON GREAT BARRIER REEF

MPA announced for Easter Island

The final step to protect the unique waters around Easter Island was confirmed on 27 February when Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a decree to create a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The new Rapa Nui MPA covers 720,000 km2, an area of ocean about the size of France, and guards against industrial fishing and extractive activities, while protecting the traditional fishing practices of the Rapa Nui. It was achieved through the hard work and leadership of Rapa Nui groups, including a coalition of business leaders, fishers, and more than 20 local organizations, along with support from the Bertarelli Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation, Dona Bertarelli said: “This is an incredible moment in the history of Easter Island. The Bertarelli Foundation is very proud to have accompanied the Rapa Nui for the past six years, as they campaigned to protect their waters and their heritage.” The area around Easter Island, which is located in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean, around 4,000km west of Chile, is one of the most unique marine environments in the world and home to at least 142 endemic species, including 27 that are threatened or endangered. The Rapa Nui MPA contributes a huge stretch of ocean to the global push for 30% of the ocean in protection by 2030, the target recommended by scientists and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Dona Bertarelli stated: “Chile has shown its leadership to conserve the global ocean, and looking forward, there is a lot more work to be done by countries everywhere if we are to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.” Large scale MPAs are acknowledged as essential to building resilience of the ocean in a changing climate, helping to protect marine life and conserve complex ecosystems.

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WORLD’S RAREST FISH FOUND OFF TASMANIA

PHOTO CREDIT: ANTONIA COOPER VIA UNIVERSITY OF TASMANIA

Divers in Tasmania have found a new population of what is believed to be the world’s rarest fish. Known for walking on the seabed, red handfish (Thymichthys politus) were previously only found in a 50 metre by 20 metre long reef in Frederick Henry Bay near Hobart in south-east Tasmania, with a single population of just 20-40 of the species identified. Seven divers confirmed the second site – a nearby similar-sized reef – which is estimated to be home to the same number of fish. The divers from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and the citizen-science project Reef Life Survey (RLS) spent two days searching the reef after a member of the public reported seeing a red handfish in the area. “We were diving for approximately three and a half hours and at about the two-hour mark we were all looking at each other thinking this is not looking promising,” IMAS Technical Officer Antonia Cooper said. “My dive partner went to tell the other divers that we were going to start heading in and I was half-heartedly flicking algae around when, lo and behold, I found a red handfish.” “Finding a new population that is definitely distinct from the existing one is very exciting. It means there’s potentially a bigger gene-pool, and also that there are potentially other populations out there that we’ve yet to find,” she added. Rick Stuart-Smith, a University of Tasmania researcher with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, co-founded Reef Life Survey in 2007 with Professor Graham Edgar to collect data on global marine life. He said eight individuals in the new group were identified, and that this could offer hope that there might be other undiscovered populations out there. “Finding this second population is a huge relief as it effectively doubles how many we think are left on the planet,” Dr Stuart-Smith said. The future could be looking up for these odd little fish, as Stuart-Smith said researchers would “review the viability of a captive breeding programme for red handfish now that the known wild population was large enough to cope with the capture of a few breeding pairs.”

Technical diving in North Sulawesi

Oasis Explorers is a newly launched technical training facility located at the luxury dive resort Bunaken Oasis in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The facility is the first in the Bunaken Marine Park to offer multi-agency technical training, trimix and CCR compatibility, and a vastness of unexplored deep dive sites, all in the TECH DIVING setting of an award-winning luxury dive resort. Expect a state-of-the-art filling station, specialised equipment, experienced surface support and expert advisors. Oasis Explorers will also be working on opportunities in North Sulawesi for more detailed scientific surveys, environmental awareness for deep-water marine species and the first comprehensive mapping project beyond recreational depths. Please send enquiries to: tech@bunakenoasis.com

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INDUSTRY NEWS JOIN DOUG ALLAN ON THE SEARCH FOR WHALESHARKS DIVING DS N E I WITH FR MALDIVES INDONESIA EGYPT S PA I N NEW: Euro-Divers in Lanzerote!

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ALL YOU NEED IS CHOICES AND WE HAVE THEM! M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N AND BOOKINGS:

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Steppes Travel has teamed up with award-winning BBC cameraman Doug Allan to offer a spectacular cruise around Raja Ampat, Indonesia, an area that is home to jungle-coated islands, white sandy beaches, ancient cave systems, tribal groups – and whalesharks. Those lucky enough to get a space on board this exclusive itinerary will spend eight days snorkelling and diving some of the world’s most-pristine coral reefs, as well as enjoying plenty of in-water time to photograph and film the world’s largest fish at Cenderawasih Bay, where the whalesharks enjoy an unusual relationship with the local fishermen.

DOUG ALLAN

Doug Allan is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-known and respected wildlife and documentary cameramen – David Attenborough names him as his favourite, which is no small accolade, and he has twice won the underwater category in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. He is no stranger to the ‘big stuff’, having filmed whales in almost all the seas of the world and fronting the BBC series Ocean Giants, and he also did a stint in front of the camera as one of the presenters on Operation Iceberg, as well as providing some of the more-memorable footage in that series. He’s been giving talks for many years on wildlife, diving, his experiences while film-making and the craft of nature photography - as well as contributing to various radio shows and penning two children’s books - and will make the consummate host for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. This awesome liveaboard expedition, which is on board the 40-metre, six-cabin Tiare (a luxurious yacht built using salvaged materials from traditional Javanese homes), departs on 21 November 2018. For a detailed itinerary, or to book your place, contact: https://www.steppestravel.com/enquiry

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INDUSTRY NEWS Rising temperatures turn turtles female on Great Barrier Reef New research has found that rising temperatures are turning nearly all green sea turtles female in an area of the Great Barrier Reef. The unbalanced ratio could threaten the future of the population, the scientific paper warned. It examined two genetically distinct populations of turtles on the reef and found that the northern group of about 200,000 animals was overwhelmingly female. The southern population was 65 percent to 69 percent female, females in the northern group accounted for 99.1 percent of juveniles, 99.8 percent of subadults and 86.8 percent of adults. The paper, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California State University and Worldwide Fund for Nature Australia, is published in Current Biology. The paper said: “Combining our results with temperature data show that the northern GBR green turtle rookeries have been producing primarily females for more than two decades and that the complete feminisation of this population is possible in the near future. “Furthermore, extreme incubation temperatures not only produce female-only hatchlings but also cause high mortality of developing clutches,” it said. “With warming global temperatures and most sea turtle populations naturally producing offspring above the pivotal temperature, it is clear that climate change poses a serious threat to the persistence of these populations.” According to the Guardian, ‘sea turtles are among species with temperature dependent sex-determination and the proportion of female hatchlings increases when nests are in warmer sands.’ The research was facilitated through the Great Barrier Reef Rivers to Reef to Turtles project by the World Wildlife Fund Australia.

GET PACKED AND BOOK YOUR DIVE TRIP WITH PLANET DEEPBLU As the fastest-growing online community for divers, Deepblu aims to redefine the diving lifestyle and the way people plan their dive trips. Planet Deepblu is an interactive map providing users with an intuitive and seamless experience as they research dive spots and connect with dive businesses all over the world. Their database of over 20,000 dive spots is growing every day and helps divers browse dive logs and photos to learn what it’s like to actually dive there. Users can explore hundreds of different dive experiences and find in-depth reviews on dive sites, shops, resorts, and more. Dive businesses are now able to feature their own enhanced business profiles, sharing where they operate and the services they offer. Deepblu’s recent update allows users to book a dive and communicate directly with dive businesses through the Deepblu app. www.deepblu.com/planet

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Are you passionate about diving and dreaming about making it your professional career? Well now is your chance! Join blue o two for their brand-new Cruise Director Internship Programme (CDIP) and receive first-hand training in the high-end dive liveaboard industry from their experienced, professional Cruise Directors. CDIP is available in one or more of the following destinations: Indonesia, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Palau, the Philippines, Red Sea, Solomon Islands or Truk Lagoon. The world-spanning fleet of blue o two, Master Liveaboards and Siren Fleet offer qualified dive professionals a unique opportunity to gain invaluable experience as a Cruise Director. The programme is for a period of 90 days and will allow you to dive daily in some of the most-amazing diving destinations around the world! Who is this programme for? Enthusiastic and eager divers, with a minimum qualification of Divemaster or equivalent, with great interpersonal and communication skills, who are service and customer-minded, with a good team spirit and a willingness to take charge, and dedicated to making every single cruise the best possible experience for their guests. The internship offers a period of 90 days on board one or two of blue o two’s vessels, including full board, and a complete training schedule from the Cruise Directors, as well as ‘learning by doing’. The Cruise Director Internship Programme costs US$3,000 and includes 24-hour training from some of the best dive crews in the business. http://www.blueotwo.com/Careers

WAOW liveaboard catches fire and sinks

EXTRA POWERFUL IN LOW LIGHT CONDITIONS

PARALENZ.COM 14

Yet another SE Asia liveaboard is no more – overnight on 31 January, the Water Adventure Ocean Wide vessel, better known as the WAOW, caught on fire and subsequently sank during a storm while moored up in Biak Harbour. Thankfully, there was no loss of life or physical injury. Owners Julia, Michel and Gérard put out a heartfelt press release, in which they offered their ‘sincere gratitude to our crew, their enthusiasm to provide the services we wished to offer on board, and the exemplary courage they have been demonstrating throughout this sad event’, and a big thank you to all the clients who had sailed on her. They also expressed special thanks and gratitude to Pinisi boat builder Hadji, their first employee Wulan, their former director Andrew, current director Reto, cameraman Steff, and behind-the-scenes wizard Stephane. Their final poignant comment was: “Like diamonds the WAOW is, at least in our memory, eternal. But life goes on, with new opportunities for each of us: seize them and enjoy them.”

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INDUSTRY NEWS UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY MODELLING WORKSHOP

Scuba Diver contributor Stuart Philpott has teamed up with Pharaoh Dive Club in the Egyptian Red Sea to craft a unique underwater photography modelling workshop where those taking part will get an insight into what is needed to take eye-catching cover shots, and work with experienced underwater models. Over the years, Stuart has become highly skilled at taking picture compositions featuring underwater models, either in the foreground, as the main subject for a front cover portrait, or placed somewhere in the frame to add perspective for a wide-angle scenic composition. Stuart has used his experience to design a five-day workshop that completely focuses on the art of using models in underwater photography. He has compiled a series of presentations that will give photographers a unique insight into how to take underwater photographs using models in a variety of different composures and settings. Stuart will discuss how to set up the best compositions, the pitfalls he has encountered and useful tips he has learnt throughout the years. This will be accompanied by daily practical sessions at local shore diving sites, day boat diving and inflatable excursions. The plan is to practice new skills and pick up ideas from the group, as well as being prepped by Stuart. There will be daily image reviews with plenty of constructive critique and friendly banter. The schedule includes a freshwater swimming pool session using bubble curtains, different lighting effects, different colour kit set-ups, etc. There will also be a wreck photography day and a trip to The Rock and its famous anemones for some creative marine life/model compositions. Throughout the week, models will be using scuba, snorkelling gear, scooters, a variety of kit configurations as well as different swimsuits and wetsuits. Initially photographers will work and dive as pairs to refine their skills before spending some in-water time with the underwater models. To get the best results, participating photographers should be equipped with their own camera, strobes or some form of external lighting, wide-angle lenses and a laptop computer to download images and do some basic picture editing. Cameras can be compacts, mirrorless or DSLRs.

WORKSHOP DETAILS

The workshop runs from 23- 30 May 2018, and the package includes seven night’s accommodation at Roots in a Deluxe Chalet, ‘soft’ all-inclusive, return airport transfers, unlimited unguided diving on the house reef, two dives by inflatable boat, two dives by hard boat, and the guidance/assistance of Stuart Philpott, who will be working with divers in the water, including sessions with Miss Scuba UK models. Price: £1,125 per person sharing (flight not included). www.stuart.pharaohdiveclub.com

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Dr Oliver Firth has gained considerable experience in the field of diving and hyperbaric medicine since joining LDC in 2006. He is an Approved Medical Examiner of Divers for the UK HSE, and a medical referee for the UK Sport Diving Medical Committee. He is involved in the management of all types of diving-related illness, including recompression treatment, as well as providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy for non-diving conditions. He remains a passionate diver and has participated in various expeditions and conservation projects throughout the globe. Q: I am a regular blood donor and was wondering whether you could see any reasons I can’t dive? I really want to try diving and I asked the staff at my last donation session whether it was okay, but they didn’t really know. Assuming it is possible, is there a recommended time I should leave between giving blood and diving? A: Blood has been called the ‘river of life’ and has many functions besides being a vampire’s next meal. It transports gases, nutrients, waste products, cells and proteins all over the body, as well as being important to heat regulation. Each time they take an armful of your vintage claret, your circulating volume drops by about half a litre (470mls to be precise). The average human has a total blood volume of about five litres, so we’re talking less than 10 percent of that with each donation. The body responds by moving fluid from the tissues into the circulation, so that the volume loss is replaced within 24 hours (quicker if you drink lots of fluid). Even though the body makes about two million new red cells per second, it still takes up to eight weeks to replace all the cells that have been removed. This is why you are limited to three to four donations per year. The consequences of all this on diving are several. In the first 24 hours after a donation, you are more prone to fainting due to the reduction in your circulating volume and hence your blood pressure. (This is why you are force-fed water, tea, biscuits and preferably Guinness afterwards.) In essence, you are dehydrated. Divers get notoriously dehydrated anyway, through immersion, breathing dry compressed gas, being cold/shivering etc, so I would certainly advise no diving within 24 hours, preferably a bit longer to be on the safe side. There is no evidence that donating blood increases your susceptibility to narcosis or oxygen toxicity. Nitrogen is dissolved in the plasma, and for various reasons the plasma volume and delivery of blood to the tissues increases after a donation. Theoretically then, the risk of DCI might increase slightly, but so many other factors are involved that the effect is probably tiny and not worth worrying about.

Q: I’m a 60-something white-haired businessman and I also freely admit to being an overweight smoker who does no exercise. After a particularly stressful day at work I was driving home and felt a bit unusual. I pulled over and noticed my shirt was drenched. Then my chest became uncomfortable... One heart attack later, I was discharged from hospital on a jarful of pills and with instructions to chill out, diet, exercise and generally remove anything exciting from my life. This was two months ago. There’s no way I’m giving up diving, but my learned dive buddy reckons that these beta blockers I’ve been put on might be harbingers of diving doom. Can you enlighten me on their particular perils, please? A: Indeed I can. Beta receptors are distributed throughout the body, and among other things control heart rate and the strength of heart muscle contraction. Beta blockers (such as atenolol, carvedilol and in fact any other drug that ends in ‘-ol’) tend to slow the heart and reduce the force of contraction. Hence they are used to treat high-blood pressure and angina, and are often prescribed after heart attacks or heart failure to reduce said organ’s workload. These drugs could be problematic to a diver, however, for three reasons. Firstly, by blunting the heart’s ability to respond to sudden unexpected demands (eg. strong currents) – if the heart rate has an artificial brake on it, it won’t be able to pump harder when it needs to. Secondly, we know that simply immersing a human in water causes a large amount of blood to move from the peripheral to the central circulation, and the resulting back pressure on the lungs can cause leakage of fluid into the alveoli (airsacs), a risk thought to be elevated by beta blockers. And finally, blockage of beta receptors in the lungs may cause constriction of the airways. Ideally therefore, divers should avoid these drugs, if there are alternatives; if not, then the lowest effective dose should be used, and thorough testing carried out to ensure the above risks are minimised. Do you have a question for Dr Firth? Email: divingdoctor@scubadivermag. com and we’ll pass it on.

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DIVE MUNDA

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The Yongala is smothered in marine growth

ADRIAN STACEY explores the wreck of the SS YONGALA, a much-lauded dive site off the coast of Australia, but will it live up to the hype? Photographs by ADRIAN STACEY


Is this the best WRECK DIVE in the world?

Anemones, soft and hard corals cover every inch

Huge shoals of barracuda swirl over the wreck

The coral growth is simply spectacular

Large rays are a common visitor

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any destinations claim to be in the top ten dive sites of a particular country, or of the world, and it is very difficult to refute such claims because diving is a very personal experience. Just as with art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people prefer wrecks, some people prefer reefs, some like big stuff and others like small stuff. But it is fair to say the people at Yongala Dive can put their hand on their heart and say this is one of the best dive sites in Australia and, probably, one of the best wreck dives in the world. It really is that good. The SS Yongala was on her 99th voyage when she was caught in a cyclone and disappeared with-out a trace. All of the 122 people on board perished in the disaster. The ship had been enroute to Cairns from Melbourne. She was due to be fitted with a radio on her 100th voyage, a piece of equipment that could have saved lives, or enabled the Yongala to avoid tragedy altogether. The sinking of the vessel, just south of Townsville on 23 March 1911, was a mystery, and the Yongala remained undiscovered until 1958. A more-recent tragedy to befall the wreck was in 2003, when an American woman drowned while diving with her husband during their honeymoon. The hus-band was later charged with her death. For those wishing to dive on the Yongala, there is a choice of where to depart from: the city of Townsville, or the small town of Ayr. Boats leaving from Townsville take around three hours to complete the trip to the Yongala, compared to the 30-minute boat journey from Ayr. We decided to opt


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for the shorter boat journey provided by Yongala Dive, who are based 15 minutes from Ayr in the tiny settlement of Alva. If you are looking for exciting nightlife, bustling bars and foam parties, then Ayr is not for you, and Alva is certainly isn’t; other than the dive centre and a few houses, there is literally nothing there. If, however, you simply want to dive on the Yongala, then this is the best option and it does not get much more convenient than staying in the hostel above the dive cen-tre. We booked two days diving and arrived the evening before. The next day we were up early, eager to get out to the SS Yongala. First, there was a thorough briefing during which it was strong-ly emphasised that divers are not allowed to enter the wreck, partly out of respect for the people who lost their lives when it sank, and partly to preserve it. The oxidisation caused by the air bub-bles from divers could be a major cause of the deterioration of a wreck. These rules are vigorously enforced and divers who flaunt them can face very stiff fines, and with good reason: for a ship that has been submerged for over a century, it is in remarkably good condition. The area around the wreck has also been classed as a protected zone, which means fishing is strict-ly prohibited. A permit is required for boats wishing to make a visit and few permanent moorings further reduce the impact dive boats have on the SS Yongala. The ship rests on its starboard side at a depth of 28m and the top of its port side is around 15m from the surface. Once the briefing had finished, we were taken down to the beach where the RIB was launched. For a pleasant change the weather gods were smiling on us. There was barely a ripple on the water and when we reached our destination, the visibility was fantastic. By the time I had descended only 10m through a huge school of barracuda, I knew it was going to be an amazing dive. With around 25-30 metre visibility, it did not take long for the stern The Yongala is a photographer’s dream shipwreck

RIBs run out to the Yongala when conditions allow

Sometimes it is hard to tell you are even on a wreck

of the SS Yongala to come into view, an oasis of marine life that sits on the vast sandy ocean floor. Shrouded in fish and covered in coral, it was difficult to know where to look first; I felt like a kid in a sweet shop. After a couple of calming breaths, we made our way along the slanting remains of the deck towards the bow, where we were told we had a good chance of seeing sharks. Along the way we passed broken masts alive with corals and sponges, small schools of fish huddled in their shadow. The cargo holds and engine room hid Queensland grouper and Napoleon wrasse in their murky interiors. An endless proces-sion of reef fish made it look like rush hour in London on the wreck. At the bow, numerous cobia pretended to be sharks, and before long an actual shark swam by, a large silky. As we made our way back along the top of the ship over a forest of whip corals, we were accom-panied by a huge marble ray, the creature completely unfazed by our presence. With bottom time and air running low, it was time to ascend back up through the barracuda and giant trevallies and onto our RIB. For the next dive we spent most of our time on the shallower section of the wreck, swimming through the large schools of fish that swarmed around the vast structure, while also keeping an eye out in the blue for anything big. All too quickly, the dive was over but one last gem the Yongala decided to show us before we left for the day was a huge Spanish dancer that must have been about a foot long. On the second day the conditions were even better and this impressive 109-metre-long ship was clearly visible from the surface. Once

The wreck is surrounded by its own eco-system

“As we edged cautiously closer, the huge form of the calf’s mother rose to the surface, making her presence felt and dwarfing our little boat”


ABOUT YONGALA DIVE

The interior looks tempting, but penetration is strictly forbidden

Yongala Dive is the only dive centre in Ayr, offering the shortest journey to the wreck. Their large and comfortable RIB transports guests to the SS Yongala in around 30 minutes. Their staff have a real passion for diving here and are keen for divers to enjoy the wreck while also preserving it as best they can. A two-dive daytrip costs approximately $230, excluding equip-ment. The accommodation is basic but clean and there are facilities to cook your own food if you do not want to make the journey into Ayr. Breakfast can be purchased from the kitchen downstairs, and divers are treated to a BBQ once they have returned from the day’s diving, usually at around 1.30pm. Aussie water tower

The wreck even has a street named after it

again, we were the only divers present as we descended for our first dive of the day. The visibility was at least 30 metres and the temperature remained a chilly 22 degrees Celsius, which is about average for the time of year. With nitrox in our tanks for the day’s diving, we decided to explore the sandy areas around the boat. We found multiple cobias resting here. As we approached they lifted off the ocean floor, resembling a squadron of Spitfire fighter planes that had just been scrambled. Further exploration unveiled a couple of large guitar sharks and several stingrays. Back on the wreck the activity was relentless. The large marble ray that had been checking us out the day before had today invited some of his friends to watch the strange-looking creatures that moved awkwardly around his realm. The three large specimens skimmed back and forth over the hull, sometimes playing a game of chicken with the divers. One of the guitar sharks that we had disturbed earlier in the dive glided past us, restless after our intru-sion. For our final dive, we went for a relaxed cruise around the wreck; a turtle appeared out of one of the many holes that pepper the structure, and huge, shy Queensland grouper moved cautiously over the bow, seemingly embarrassed by their immense size. An eagle ray dropped onto the wreck for-aging for crustaceans on the coral-encrusted structure. Back at the stern, a large school of snapper had gathered and as we ascended for our safety stop, we encountered a school of batfish and yet more schooling barracuda, giant trevallies and cobia. With the diving finished, it was time to return to the dive centre. As we skimmed across the pond-like surface of the ocean toward the shore, our vigilant captain spotted something in the distance. Veering away from land, we made a detour towards what

“If asked what sort of marine life can be found on the SS Yongala, you could simply point to a fish identification book and say ‘all of that’”

The coral can reach staggering proportions

had caught his eye. Our reward was finding a juvenile humpback whale frolicking in the water, breaching, fin slapping and rolling onto its back waving to us. As we edged cautiously closer, the huge form of the calf’s mother rose to the surface, making her presence felt and dwarfing our little boat. Content that we posed no threat, mother allowed her offspring to continue with playtime. It was a fitting end to a couple of amazing days diving. If asked what sort of marine life can be found on the SS Yongala, you could simply point to a fish identification book and say ‘all of that’. From the schooling barracuda that hang in the water col-umn above the wreck to the rays that rest on the sand at its base, fish seem to be drawn here like a moth to a flame. On every dive there was something different to see and I have the feeling that even if I had dived here every day for the next few months, the same would be true. A diving holiday to this vast country without an excursion to the SS Yongala would be almost criminal. n


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DIVE LIKE A PRO

This month, our panel of experts tackle the subject of FINNING TECHNIQUES, and offer up a plethora of helpful hints and advice to get you gliding around like a dive god in no time PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS, RAID AND TDI/SDI

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othing screams ‘dive guru’ as much as the sight of someone in a nice horizontal trim, effortlessly gliding through the water using a frog kick, and making fine manoeuvres such as helicopter turns and back finning seem a walk in the park. Getting a measured, smooth finning style in an array of techniques is what sets more-experienced divers apart from those just setting out on their underwater journey, but all it needs is practice, practice, practice. We asked a selection of highly qualified instructors from the main training agencies for their insights into this topic, and they came back with some useful hints and advice. PADI TecRec Instructor Trainer Martin Robson said: “If you want to learn to ‘frog kick’, practice on dry land first. Lay across a table or bench, ideally watched by an instructor who can coach you (a cave instructor would be ideal). Get videoed practicing in the water. I actually swim behind my students, holding their ankles and making their legs ‘frog kick’ until they get the feel of it. Practice just beneath the surface with your hands against the side so you don’t actually go anywhere.” Matt Clements, PADI UK Regional Manager and a PADI Master Instructor, explained: “Finding the right set of fins is key, you need to try a few different styles out. I tend to use the frog kick at a leisurely pace, which with subtle ankle movements allows for turning and back finning. Your fins should also allow for powerful kicks also for use against currents, or to get to your buddy in an emergency. To get the most out of the flutter kick, you need to kick from the hip and using the full range of leg movement.” Vikki Batten, who is Director of Rebreather Technologies, and a Training Supervisor and Instructor Examiner, at PADI said: “Simple fins give you the widest variety of fin strokes, so don’t worry about too many fancy bits unless you have an injury or weakness to compensate for. Most people don’t have good awareness of their finning technique, so get some training from an expert who can help you develop both powerful and subtle fin strokes.” Mark Powell, TDI/SDI Business Development Manager, said: “Most divers are only ever taught a single finning technique, the flutter kick. This is simple and easy involving the same leg movement as a front crawl stroke in swimming. However, it has a number of disadvantages, biggest of which is that it tends to kick up silt, even if you don’t touch the bottom. There are a number of other finning techniques, including the frog kick, helicopter turn and back kick. Each of these can be very useful in the right situation, and divers should be able to use the most appropriate kick for the situation.

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Practicing finning techniques on tech sidemount

CCR divers drop down a reef

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Exploring a shipwreck on CCR

Silty bottoms and bad techniques are a lousy combination

Good finning techniques are vital inside shipwrecks

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“Frog kicks can be used as a replacement for flutter kick when swimming in silty conditions as all the force is directed backwards during the power stroke and so it avoids disturbing the bottom. Helicopter turns are very useful for adjusting your position in the water, or for turning around to check on your buddy. Back finning can be used to hold position or to back away when trying to take a photograph, approaching a reef or other delicate surface, or when trying to maintain your distance on a decompression stop. By expanding their repertoire of finning techniques, divers can gain a number of benefits. Using the right technique at the right time can help to reduce silt being kicked up on a wreck and, as a result, visibility of dives is increased. It can allow divers to switch from using one set of muscles to another and so reduce fatigue, and finally it can allow a much greater level of control over the diver’s position in the water. All of these can increase the enjoyment and comfort of a dive, and that’s something that should appeal to divers of all levels.” Sophie Heptonstall, National Diving Officer of the British Sub-Aqua Club, said: “Mastering different finning techniques can often be undervalued at the start of diver training when there are so many new skills for a diver to learn, however good basic finning technique is essential for economical, stress-free and relaxed diving at initial qualification level and becomes increasingly important with more adventurous diving. “When it comes to fins, comfort is important, particularly in the foot pocket to reduce discomfort in the water. The range of materials and style of fins now available are vast and it’s important to try different types to see how they perform in the water using different fin strokes. Ask shops, dive sites, clubs or friends if you can try different types before you buy a new pair. The rigidity and shape of the fins can make a big difference in effort and propulsion.” She continued: “Correct weighting and trim are the backbone for good finning technique. How you are positioned in the water makes a significant difference to a diver’s propulsion and efficiency. Practice your surface and underwater finning, if possible get someone to take video of you in the water so you can see your ankle, leg and fin positioning. This will help you work on improving your technique. “It is important to choose the right kick for the dive. The flutter kick is great for maximum propulsion where there is no risk of disturbing the sea bed or damaging marine life; the frog kick is useful for relaxed diving where there is little current and no risk of disturbing the sea bed or damaging marine life; the high flutter kick / high frog kick is a good technique for silty conditions or a confined space; and the reverse frog kick is a great alternative to pushing with the arms or sculling to back away from something underwater.” Garry Dallas, Director of Training for RAID UK and Malta, said: “Surfacing after an hour’s dive may feel like you’ve just undergone a strenuous workout at the gym. Not surprising, considering you’ve just burnt off around 650 calories - roughly equivalent to that well-earned hot chocolate and burger you’ll enjoy on your surface interval! “Have you ever paused to think why you’re so tired post-dive? Simply put, you’re working too hard underwater! Constant flutter kicking throughout a dive, trying to keep up with the diver on point, fighting the effects of each kick, and pushing a larger frontal surface area through the water all contribute to excess exertion and air consumption. “Spending nearly 20 years analysing diver’s kicks, I can put diver’s nemeses of correct effective finning techniques into perspective. For example, kicking from the hips uses the largest muscle groups (quadri-

27


ceps and gluteus maximus) in the body, trending the forward or reverse bicycle kick, which is not very efficient. Having one stronger leading leg - noticed when asked to swim in a straight line without any point of reference - results in swimming in an arc or a circle! A graceful frog kick and glide is balanced, anti-silting, effective and effortless.” He pointed out: “Tech fins are not just for tech divers! Neutral or slightly negative fins rule! Split fins can still cause cramp. Equally, ankle weights do not stop your feet from floating, they simply hold your feet down without air in your boots. Having excess weight on your feet requires excess air to support them neutrally in the water to feel comfortable while hovering. Tim Clements, IANTD General Manager, explained: “IANTD places great emphasis on efficient propulsion. Moving through water requires 25 times as much effort as air, which when combined with the bulk of technical diving gear, means we either have to work smarter or harder to explore our diving objectives. This comes in several parts: streamlining, good trim and efficient propulsion. Let’s take a look at how we can improve how we can get more progress forwards (or backwards) for the same effort. Good propulsion also minimises silt disturbance and environmental damage in delicate caves or reefs and maximises positional control. “It is important to have several propulsion techniques. A full power frogkick might be ideal for making progress in a strong current, but fine control over position or attitude in cave navigation, photography or teaching requires either flutter, modified flutter or delicate back kick technique. Dolphin kick is another useful number, especially when modified into a single move forward. Knowing when to use each of these is a skill in itself. Underlying good propulsion is, of course, crisp buoyancy control - if you’re baling up and down in the water, then great propulsion technique is wasted effort. Whatever technique you use, practice it slowly, placing emphasis on accurate movement and thinking carefully about where you are pushing water with your fins. Don’t try and break the laws of physics!” He continued: “IANTD courses firstly require divers to be stable and streamlined, proceeding to work on trim and propulsion. Development of the last two often proceeds together for many divers, with a flatter profile making movement easier, but good propulsion makes the diver flatter. This ‘chicken and egg’ technique development is common, but it is also important to recognise the many situations that make good propulsion in ‘non-flat’ attitudes important - caves, wreck, reefs, teaching, photography, science, etc, can all take us away from a perceived ideal ‘spirit-level flat’. “IANTD aims to train divers for the many real diving scenarios they will encounter - the advice from us is to become proficient in many techniques. Also, pay attention to other factors that also help such as good trim, streamlining and buoyancy stability.

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Tech divers displaying good trim and fin placement

The frogkick is a powerful method of propulsion

Finally, make propulsion part of your visualisation and post-dive team debrief to identify improvements or different techniques. Aim to self-improve beyond your formal training and reap the benefits in the enjoyment of your diving. If you would like to spend more time on propulsion with an instructor, then the Essentials course is for you.” GUE’s John Kendall said: “One of the things that most of my students find hardest is to unlink their finning and their buoyancy. By attaining a good flat body position, all the finning techniques become easier and more efficient, and don’t cause us to go either up or down. By far the best way of doing this is to keep your head as far back as you can, and your arms held out in front of you (think ‘Superman’). From this position we can then think about actually kicking. We want our kick to move the water horizontally behind us, anything else is just wasted energy, so a frogkick is a great starting point. Bend your knees and keep your fins parallel to the floor. Then move your feet apart, twist your ankles and bring the bottoms of your feet together. Then enjoy the glide before repeating. Don’t rush the kick, and ensure that the bottoms of your fins ‘push’ against the water. It is important to try and avoid allowing your knees to go up and down during this kick, the power comes from the calf muscles, not the thighs. Practice this kick very close to the bottom in a pool or on a platform, and you will feel your knees touching if you are using your thighs.” n

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Kieran Hatton

CCR Trimix Instructor

Vikki Batten

Martin Robson

Richie Stevenson

Edoardo Pavia

PADI Rebreather Consultant

Cameraman & Explorer

Paul Vincent Toomer Co-Owner, RAID

Cave Explorer

Deep Wreck Explorer

Ian France

CCR Cave Instructor

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RAINBOW WARRIOR

Rainbow colours The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 had international repercussions for France, but now it has a new lease of life as an artificial reef in New Zealand. GAVIN ANDERSON paid her a visit Photographs by GAVIN ANDERSON


The Rainbow Warrior as she was scuttled in the Cavalli Islands

“Time has also covered up the famous Rainbow Warrior Aberdeen lettering on her stern, and the dove and Greenpeace markings on her hull” Anemones and soft corals adorn the wreck

The Rainbow Warrior makes an impressive sight as you approach

T

he first thing that struck me as I descended onto the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior was the colours. I have never seen such beautiful colours on a wreck before - reds and yellows, pinks and blues, all the colours of the rainbow; it’s as if even the marine life is in sympathy with the old girl.

THE SINKING OF THE RAINBOW WARRIOR

In an incident that had enormous political repercussions, the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior was blown up and sunk by divers from the French Secret Service on 10 July 1985 while she was moored up in Auckland harbour, New Zealand, killing one man and injuring several others. On board that evening were the crew and a few friends (they numbered eight in all), enjoying a last drink before turning in for the night. It had been a long, fairly tiring day - they had just finished a meeting to discuss plans for the forthcoming trip out to Moruroa Atoll, where they planned to protest against French nuclear testing. Margaret Mills, the relief cook, had retired early to bed. She heard a couple of thuds on the ship’s hull before nodding off, but thought nothing of it. It was 11.38pm when the peace of the night was shattered as two limpet mines planted by the French divers went off. The explosion tore a massive hole in the side of the ship’s hull, rocking

her violently. Water began to flood into her largest compartment, which housed the engine room. All the lights went out, then the ship began to list. Within seconds the engine room was submerged and water was beginning to flood the lower cabins. The crew knew the ship was sinking and they had to get off. Fernando Pereira, who had been in the mess room, headed for his cabin and was busily packing his cameras into his bag when another bomb went off. It rocked the ship even more violently than the first, and yet more water spilled in from her damaged stern section. She took less than two minutes to sink after the second bomb exploded. The first bomb had been designed to sink the ship; the second was attached to the stern to make sure that if she was raised, she would be unrepairable. It had cracked the stern in two places, and bent the propeller shaft and propeller. It had also blown in the aft ballast tank, which was full of water and formed the deck on which Fernando Pereira was standing. He tragically died. The French Government denied any involvement. It was only after two months of constant international pressure and increasing evidence that they finally admitted that they were behind the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. The scandal rocked France. The United Nations ordered the country to pay several million dollars in compensation to Greenpeace, and to make a formal apology. In 2005, French newspaper Le Monde released a report from 1986 which said that Admiral Pierre Lacoste, head of DGSE at the time, had ‘personally obtained approval to sink the ship from the late-President François Mitterrand’. Soon after the publication, former Admiral Lacoste came forward and gave newspaper interviews about the situation, admitting that the death weighed on his conscience and saying that the aim of the operation had not been to kill. He acknowledged the existence of three teams the yacht crew, reconnaissance and logistics (those successfully prosecuted), plus a two-man team that carried out the bombing. The Rainbow Warrior in all her glory prior to the scuttling


THE FRENCH AGENTS

All manner of species, including blennies, have made the wreck their home Pre-dive briefing

Shoals surround the waters above the wreck site

The hull is smothered in colourful marine growth

Twenty years after the bombing, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) sought access to a video record made at the preliminary hearing in which the two French agents pleaded guilty. The footage had remained sealed since shortly after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. The two agents opposed release of the footage - despite having both written books on the incident - and unsuccessfully took the case to the New Zealand Court of Appeal and, subsequently, the Supreme Court of New Zealand. On 7 August 2006, judges Hammond, O’Regan and Arnold dismissed the former French agents’ appeal and TVNZ broadcast their guilty pleas the same day. In 2006, Antoine Royal revealed that his brother, Gérard Royal, had claimed to be involved in planting the bomb. Their sister is French Socialist Party politician Ségolène Royal, who was contesting the French presidential election. Other sources identified Royal as merely a Zodiac pilot, and the New Zealand government announced there would be no extradition request since the case was closed. In 1993, Louis-Pierre Dillais was appointed to an elite espionage position in the office of Defence Minister Francois Leotard. He later became an executive in the US subsidiary of Belgian arms manufacturer FN Herstal and, as of May 2007, lived in Virginia in the United States. In 2007, the New Zealand Green Party criticized the government over its purchase of arms from FN Herstal. At that time, Greenpeace was still pursuing the extradition of Dillais for his involvement in the act. Jean-Luc Kister, leader of the French operation, spoke to TVNZ in 2015 admitting his lead role and feelings of responsibility for the lethal attack. He also pointed to the French President, as commander of the armed forces and intelligence services assigned the operation. Operation Rainbow might have succeeded in its initial objectives, but overall it was a huge own goal. Greenpeace gained worldwide publicity and sympathy. Scorpionfish

A 20th anniversary memorial edition of the 1986 book Eyes of Fire: The Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior by New Zealand author David Robie – who was aboard the bombed ship – was published in July 2005.

A NEW LIFE

Two and a half years after her sinking, the raised and patched-up Rainbow Warrior was towed from Auckland, New Zealand, to the Cavalli Islands, three hours to the north, to be sunk as an artificial reef. On 14 December 1987, a sheltered position was chosen, not far from Motutapere Island, and the vessel’s seacocks were opened. Inquisitive triggerfish were checking out the wreck within 30 minutes of her placing. The wreck now sits on sand in about 25m of water in Matauri Bay. The buoy is usually tied on to the stern section, and on a good day, when visibility is 20 metres or more, you can see the whole stern section and a good part of the ship as soon you descend the line. Most of the time visibility is at least 15 metres, and on an exceptional day it can reach 30 metres. The amazing colours on the wreck were provided by fields of encrusting jewel anemones. Her stern was covered in them and even at depth they were still visible. Apparently, jewel anemones are able to absorb light at a low level of intensity and emit it at a higher one, so we could still see these gorgeous col-

ours at an incredible 20m. I stayed at the stern for some time, mesmerised by the amazing scene in front of me. As I eventually moved out to get a panoramic picture of her, I glimpsed something totally unexpected. At first I thought it was some unusually fast new species of fish, then I realised it was a bird. It came like a guided missile right towards me, swooping past, and then turning away and heading towards the bow. I watched it disappear into the distance, in awe of its sleek swimming style. A cormorant had stopped by to do a spot of fishing! Moving away from her stern I went to explore her bridge,


The Rainbow Warrior is still in remarkable shape

“Apparently, jewel anemones are able to absorb light at a low level of intensity and emit it at a higher one, so we could still see these gorgeous colours at an incredible 20m”

The jewel anemones are simply stunning

Kelp fish

Even the railings are liberally coated with growth

but sadly it wasn’t in great ship shape condition, as it has mostly collapsed, but a good deal of her railings were still there, if somewhat bent. Her relatively shallow position has allowed a good covering of kelp and algae to take hold on her upper surfaces. There is so much life encrusting her that I found it impossible to see exactly where the two explosions that sank the ship had taken place. The patch-up job was

remarkably good. Time has also covered up the famous Rainbow Warrior Aberdeen lettering on her stern, and the dove and Greenpeace markings on her hull. Her famous rainbow colours have also disappeared, but they have been replaced by the gardens of jewel anemones instead! Her relatively small size – 45 metres long - and her shallow depth made her great for exploration and photography. I had time to circumnavigate her a couple of times and check out her most-accessible compartments, including her galley and saloon. Inside I found it very dark and eerie. Moray eel and crayfish lurk in many parts of the wreck while around the outside there were plenty of subjects to photograph, from little blennies peering out of holes to small schools of leatherjackets and blue maomao. Down on the deck the odd kelp fish seemed as at home here as in his normal habitat. Here I almost bumped into a huge scorpionfish, blending into his surroundings perfectly. The bow was even more photogenic than the stern. Here the railings are still complete, and are festooned with anemones and the odd piece of kelp. As well as the dazzling array of jewel anemones, I found curious little triplefins and several blennies. I could have spent hours just photographing them. As I slowly made my way up the buoy line, I looked back down at the wreck. I wondered when and if I would ever get to dive her again. She is not only a lovely wreck, but one with an amazing story. n


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To enter, log on to: www.scubadivermag.com/competition and fill in the answer and your details, and you will then be in the running to win!


ABOUT DEEPBLU

Taiwan-based DeepBlu are the new contender on the dive computer battlefront, but they have an ace in the hole in that the Cosmiq+ Dive Companion syncs via Bluetooth with their mobile app, seamlessly bringing your dive logs, etc, into their ever-growing social community. Pairing your Cosmiq+ takes literally seconds, and then once linked your dive profiles transfer to your social hub. From here, you can add additional information about the dive site, photographs and so on, and then share it to the community. Likewise, you can peruse other people’s dives through the social network. You can build up a network of contacts, ‘chat’ with online dive buddies, and even like, comment on and share other dive site postings. Software updates are automatically sent as notifications, so you can ensure your Cosmiq+ and the online social media are bang up to date. The Cosmiq+ has a clear high-contrast LCD screen which utilises EBTN pixel-less technology and is extremely bright, and the two buttons allow for simple, effortless navigation. Settings can be altered via the computer, or very easily on your phone, and then transferred to the Cosmiq+. The webbing strap is comfortable and quick and easy to adjust to fit around your wet suited or dry suited wrist. It comes in a range of colour schemes - Noir (black body with black or red insets and body) and Lumin (white body with either grey, purple or turquoise insets and straps. www.deepblu.com


HOW TO GET BETTER MACRO IMAGES:

GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT MARTYN GUESS provides some ideas on how we can all get better underwater macro images based on his approach to this close-up type of photography PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARTYN GUESS

I

see so many macro photographs that with a bit of thought could be so much better. Normally these are either subjects against a very distracting background caused by shooting into the reef, or quick what I call ID shots with no real thought of the best way to try and capture an image of the subject. Good macro photography requires us to follow a few basic rules and then to apply these to our images. The image needs to be well composed, striking and colourful with maybe some interesting behaviour or good eye contact and importantly, it has to be well lit.

SUBJECT SELECTION

It’s easy to follow the guide and shoot what he finds for you. However, not every subject is worth the effort and the time. Consider how accessible the critter is – is it in a cleft in the rock that it is impossible to get a camera close to it or is it facing the wrong way, or is the critter against a really complicated background? In these situations, a good photograph is going to be very difficult if not impossible, so my advice is to acknowledge the spotting, thank the dive guide and move on! Spend more time on a good subject in a good position.

BEHAVIOUR

Look carefully for any type of behaviour as an image with a critter doing something interesting or unexpected will draw the viewer’s attention. Take the honeycomb moray in the picture, for example. Ordinarily I would have been satisfied just trying to get a well-lit shot but as I settled down I noticed that deeper under the rocks were loads of shrimps. I decided to wait a while to see whether they would come close to the moray. The shrimps and the eel live in a symbiotic mutualistic relationship whereby the shrimps are protected from predators, and in return the shrimps clean their protector’s teeth and skin. If you are aware of this you will understand that waiting might give rise to some interesting behaviour. When it does, make the most of it. The cardinalfish in the picture is a classic example of interesting behaviour with the male fish mouth-brooding the eggs and periodically aerating them by opening his mouth. If you know about this behavior, you watch out for it and get a much more interesting shot. The best people to teach you about behaviour and to point it out is the dive guide, so make a point of chatting with him or her and encouraging them to point behaviour out.

PEAK OF THE ACTION

Following on from watching for behaviour, once spotted the trick is to take the shot at the optimum time – such as when the critter opens its mouth, or maybe turns to look at you. You just have to be observant and press the shutter at the right moment, or keep shooting throughout and pick the image that displays the action at its absolute peak. The latest cameras with fast processing and frame rates will allow you to cover the action! The image of the mandarinfish mating typifies peak of the action.

EYE CONTACT AND ANGLE OF VIEW

If the critter you are photographing has eyes or rhinophores (in the case of nudibranchs), then it is important that these are sharp and that you get the sense in the image that the critter is looking at you. I place my focus point over these areas to make sure they are the sharpest part of the image. Most cameras will let you take control of the focus and do this, so check out the camera focus menus if you are not sure how. However, what will definitely help with the impact of the image and composition (and this applies to all camera formats) is if you get low to the subject and look up towards the eyes and rhinophores. Nudibranchs are a macro favourite...


MY ESCORTED TRIPS

Want to learn how to take or improve your underwater macro images? Why not come on a photo-specific trip. These trips are meticulously planned to the best destinations at the best time of year where the conditions should be perfect for building a portfolio of great images. The workshops, which are for all levels of experience but mainly aimed at people with a few trips under their belts, include classroom sessions and presentations as well as in-water help and guidance, all done in a relaxed and non-competitive friendly environment. Next year, there are macro photography trips through Scuba Travel to Anilao in the Philippines, the new mecca for interesting critters (May 2018), the Azores for macro, reef and shark photography (September 2018), and Bali for macro and wide-angle opportunities (October 2018). Harlequin shrimp

Mating mandarinfish can be a challenging subject ...and octopus are also a good model


BACKGROUNDS

Getting low and shooting up into the water column will dramatically improve the image as you will more easily be able to get darker or black backgrounds, or indeed take control and get a blue background if desired. The water background is a simple plain background against which to set the subject, adding impact to the overall image. The trick is the location of the subject and being able to shoot at a suitable angle, which avoids a distracting background, such as the reef. I see many images where the photographer has shot downwards or into the reef and all you then get is a subject, which visually is fighting with either the colours or substance of the background. The colour of the water column background is primarily controlled by the camera speed. So if you want a black background, increase your speed and if you want a blue or lighter background, bring the speed down to a level that will freeze the action but slow enough to give you the colour you are after. There are many ways that the background can be controlled and give something more pleasing – different lighting techniques and careful use of the aperture and shooting into the water column are the most important. Opening the aperture up to say F5.6 can help to blur the background, as the aperture will limit the depth of field. In this way the subject will be sharp depending where you focus and the background nicely blurred. The image of the octopus shows the effect of an open aperture and slow speed. Similarly, a small aperture, say F22, will give you a good depth of field but in combination with a relatively high speed will help darken the background if shot into the water column (See the image of the harlequin shrimp). Look out for colourful simple backgrounds such as sponges and then try and spot a critter or wait for something to appear to photograph against it.

Cleaner shrimp busy doing a spot of dental work on a moray eel

CAMERA SETTINGS

I recommend switching off auto and taking control in Manual, Aperture and speed set to take control of depth of field and background. If your camera has it, single point auto focus with 3D tracking to follow a moving subject or assist as you move slightly. If your camera allows, set up for back button focus. The latter allows you to focus and recompose easily and helps the image to be slightly sharper with no focus lag. ISO set ideally low to minimise digital noise but used carefully to facilitate use of other settings – for example, where the speed would be too low to avoid camera shake. A lot of information to take on board, but concentrate on these basics and I am confident your images will start to take a quantum leap forward. n Next time - macro lighting techniques…

Mantis shrimp with eggs

BIOGRAPHY MARTYN GUESS

Martyn has been diving for over 30 years and taking underwater images for nearly 25 years. He has been very successful in national and international competitions and regularly makes presentations to camera and photography clubs as well as BSOUP (The British Society of Underwater Photographers). Today he shares his passion and knowledge - as well as teaching underwater photography courses, he leads overseas workshop trips for Scuba Travel.


THE JOURNEY

CONTINUES… Andrew Watson - Turtle

Steven Nazario - Shark

It has been a fantastic month for us and the participants in our complementary onboard photography workshop. I am delighted to have received such a great variety of photographs, once more demonstrating the fascinating biodiversity of our reefs. It’s the time of year again that we are heading out to the Coral Sea, over 100 miles north of Cairns, offering rare encounters with the fascinating, ancient Nautilus. These beautiful animals excite our divers and researchers alike. The Coral Sea provides us with vibrant reef sites and our close encounters with the majestic reef sharks will leave you with an unforgettable memory. We are excited to see you onboard! Yours truly, Mike Ball SPECIAL EXPEDITION! Our 4 & 7 Night Nautilus Expeditions commence on the 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st of May 2018

Sam Roberts - Leafy Scorpion Fish

3 Abbott Street, Cairns, Queensland, 4870 Australia Reservations: +61 7 4053 0500 | resv@mikeball.com | www.mikeball.com

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The reefs are incredibly healthy

Stunning views from the infinity pool at night...

The accommations are simply sumptuous The dive sites are dramatic

...and during the day Sunset meal on the jetty

A fleet of dive boats at your service

Dinner for two?


The ‘Why’ of

Wakatobi Seasoned underwater photographer WALT STEARNS presents a dozen reasons why this far-flung dive resort deserves top billing Photographs by WALT STEARNS

HIGH CRITTER COUNTS

Wakatobi Resort is located with the area known as the Coral Triangle, which nurtures the planet’s highest levels of marine bio-diversity. On the reefs surrounding the resort, divers and snorkellers can tally more than 500 varieties of hard and soft corals, 2,000-plus species of fish life and many thousands more invertebrates. Keen-eyed divers can spend hours searching out tiny treasures such as pygmy seahorses, discovering perfectly camouflaged reef dwellers, or scanning the shallows for burrowers. Healthy reefs attract swarms of colourful tropicals, while schooling fish patrol the edges of walls and the tops of underwater seamounts.

W

The Pelagian liveaboard

akatobi Resort (www.wakatobi.com) is consistently ranked as one of the top-rated diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. But what exactly does that mean? Certainly, the quality of the underwater experience is important, but so too are factors such as the setting, amenities, guest comfort and conveniences. It is a combination of all of the above that earns Wakatobi top marks with its guests. But don’t take my word for it. Here are a dozen reasons why the resort remains near the top of so many diver’s bucket list destinations.

PROTECTION PAYS OFF

In an era where even the most-remote diving destinations are subject to the effects of human activity, a policy of managed and enforced protection is the only way to assure the health of the underwater ecosystem. Wakatobi Resort sits within a marine reserve created and operated by the resort’s founders. Covering more than 20km of reef line, the Wakatobi Collaborative Reef Conservation Programme creates a no-take zone that encompasses some of the most-spectacular and biologically-rich underwater landscapes in the region. And it’s a programme that works. Since the establishment of the reserve in the mid-1990s, all destructive forms of fishing have been eliminated, dive sites are protected by permanent moorings, and there is a strict no-touch policy in place for all diving guests. As a result of these efforts, fish populations have increased, and corals have returned to near-pristine status.

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION

Wakatobi’s Collaborative Reef Conservation Programme doesn’t just put a halt to destructive fishing practices and reef degradation, it creates a sustainable alternative by making healthy reefs a source of revenue for the local community. A portion of all guest revenue generated by the resort is used to make direct lease payments to area villages. Revenues also sustain other community initiatives for education, clean water and electrification. By giving the surrounding community a stake in preserving the reefs, Wakatobi has been able to transform local attitudes and encourage a sense of stewardship. And by placing many reefs into a status that creates fish breeding sanctuaries, Wakatobi’s programmes have actually helped local fishermen enhance their catch within designated fishing zones.

CRUISING IN COMFORT

Wakatobi Resort operates a fleet of custom-built dive boats. These spacious 21-metre vessels are designed for passenger comfort, with shaded decks, extra-spacious benches, dedicated gear storage bins and a separate camera table that is out of the way of other divers and snorkellers. Bathrooms are located at the rear of the boat, and at deck level, while water entry is from the middle of the boat. This keeps divers well away from engine exhaust when entering and exiting the water. Underway, the boat’s efficient single-engine design keeps motor noise to a low burble. Boat crews are dedicated to delivering personal service both aboard and in the water. Thorough briefings are provided before each dive, and each guest is given the appropriate level of attention to ensure both safety and maximum diving freedom.


FREE NITROX

THANK YOU TO HUNG FROM CANADA


Visibility can be outstanding

Cuttlefish

UNDERWATER DIVERSITY

The dive sites surrounding Wakatobi Resort offer a diverse range of underwater scenery. Many begin as shallow reefs that rise to within a metre or two of the surface then transition dramatically to steep slopes or walls. Some sites are set in protected bays, while others take in open-water seamounts and pinnacles. At many sites, the reef topographies are ideally suited to multi-level profiles, and it is quite common for divers to log bottom times of up to 70 minutes while remaining within a no-stop dive profile. By working with tidal currents, it is also possible to make extended drift dives at certain locations. Night dives showcase a different cast of marine characters, and the dive centre offers the special programme of fluo-diving, which reveals the fluorescing abilities of corals and other marine life.

Breakfast with a sea view - perfect

A SHORE WITH MORE

Guests don’t have to board a boat to discover some of the best diving and snorkelling in all of Indonesia. Directly in front of the resort is the House Reef, which has been named one of the world’s number-one shore dives. Exploring this vast area is as easy as wading in from the beach, or entering from the ladder at the end of the resort jetty. The outer edge of the reef runs parallel to the shore in a series of steep slopes, walls and undercut ledges. Divers have been known to spend entire days working along small areas of this formation, discovering a wealth of interesting subjects at every turn. Just inshore of the reef, a seagrass meadow shelters a menagerie of juveniles, invertebrates and sand-wellers. There is always shore supervision, and to enhance access to the full extent of the House Reef, the dive staff operates small taxi boats that ferry divers and snorkellers to more distant areas up current so they can leisurely meander their back. Photographers will be in heaven

SNORKELLERS WELCOME

Though it’s called a dive resort, Wakatobi is also a great place for snorkellers. In addition to the extensive shallow formations of the House Reef, there are dozens more sites where the corals rise close to the surface. Snorkellers are always welcome to join the divers at these sites, and are given the same levels of personal attention with snorkel guides while on the boats and in the water. The ability to mix diving and snorkelling groups allows diver/snorkeller couples and families with younger children to better share the experience.

AFTER THE DIVE

Some guests spend every possible moment of their Wakatobi experience in or under the water. Those who don’t have plenty of additional options. Beach time can include a range of watersports such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and wakeboarding. In the months between May and September, light seasonal winds turn Wakatobi into an ideal destination for the exciting sport of kite surfing. The resort now has a dedicated kiting centre, and can accommodate everyone from beginners to experts. Those who would rather stay dry can indulge in a spa visit, wander the island’s nature trail, take a tour of a local village, or sign up for an Indonesian cooking or culture class. The library and lounge in the Longhouse is always available for reading, games and there are often scheduled slide shows and marine life presentations by the resort’s photo pro.

BAREFOOT LUXURY

It’s a phrase that has become a bit cliché. But how else would you describe a setting where spa services, fine dining, attentive personal service and million-dollar ocean views mix with charming beachfront bungalows set in a palm grove, and private villas perched on the shoreline. Each of these oases of personal relaxation is served by an attentive staff, and reached by sand pathways that encourage you to shed both your shoes and any residual stress. Meals are a highlight for many guests. The resort’s team of internationally-trained chefs


WARM WELCOMES

The resort in all its secluded glory

The majority of Wakatobi’s staff come from the local community, where hospitality is a deeply ingrained cultural trait. Guests are welcomed with the same genuine warmth as if they were invited into a private home. When staff members smile and greet you by name, it’s not a gimmick, but rather a genuine expression of welcome. The staff also takes pride in going the extra mile to deliver the extra details of personal service and make sure that guests want for nothing, while at the same time respecting each individual’s privacy. It’s a combination that is almost guaranteed to put you at ease, and spoil you for a return to the outside world.

REMOTE YET ACCESSIBLE

Wakatobi is located on a small island hundreds of miles from city lights. But getting there is easy, thanks to private direct charter flights from Bali, which arrive at the resort’s own airstrip in just two-and-a-half hours. To ease the transition, Wakatobi also maintains an airport concierge staff in Bali, and provides guests access to a VIP airport lounge. The concierge team greets arriving passengers, assists with all details of transfer, and can arrange hotels, transportation and activities for those wishing to make a Bali layover. Once at the resort, guests can choose to tune out the world, but enjoy full connectivity when needed through a combination of internet, cellular and satellite links.

Even the house reef has a great wall dive section

showcase their talents with a diverse range of international favourites and Indonesian specialties, and can accommodate a wide range of dietary requirements and special requests.

THE BIG BOAT OPTION

In addition to its land-based facilities, Wakatobi Resort operates Pelagian. This 35-metre luxury dive yacht conducts one-week liveaboard cruises to more remote areas of the Wakatobi archipelago and the southern coast of of Buton Island. Carrying a maximum of ten guests, and offering roomy hotel-like cabins, Pelagian combines five-star service and fine dining with unique access to a range of dive sites. These include seldom-dived reefs, offshore seamounts and some of the region’s best muck-diving venues. Many guests will combine a stay at the resort with a Pelagian cruise.

CONCLUSION

There are many more reasons why a stay at Wakatobi Resort is truly a world-class vacation. But to discover all this idyllic destination has to offer, you’ll need to go and experience it for yourself. n Amazing sunset to round out another diving day


FREEDIVING Q&A

INTERVIEW WITH A MERMAID Scuba Diver Editor-in-Chief MARK EVANS chatted to Linden Wolbert, who has found fame as one of the most-successful professional mermaids in the business, but how did she get started?

PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHAN WHELAN/DEEPERBLUE.COM, GREG BROWNING, RIC FRAZIER AND COURTESY OF MERMAIDS IN MOTION LLC

Q: When did you first get into freediving? A: I learned about the sport of freediving in 2004, tried a monofin for the first time in 2005, and then trained with PFI and got my Advanced Freediver rating. I then travelled to Tokyo with the US Freediving Team for a televised competition in November 2006 and received my Level E AIDA International Judge certification.

Linden has an irrepressible bubbly personality

Q: When did you first don a mermaid’s tail, and did you expect to become a professional mermaid? A: The first time I tried on a monofin was when Mandy-Rae Cruickshank-Crack let me try hers on in Grand Cayman after she finished her dives for the day during the Sink Faze freediving competition. I was instantly hooked... I loved it! I went so fast underwater, I couldn’t believe it. I truly felt like a mermaid! At that moment, I dreamed of creating a mermaid tail to accompany this amazing piece of dive equipment. I knew there was a lot of potential there for creative outlet... which manifested into ocean ‘edutainment’ for children. My dream was realised! Q: What events and shoots do you get involved with as a professional mermaid? A: I have such a wide range of things I do as a mermaid. My ethos is to educate and inspire children to learn about and protect our oceans. My YouTube series, Mermaid Minute, has garnered millions of views and is the project I am most proud of. I began my career doing high-end parties and events in Hollywood, which really took off quickly. Since I was the only mermaid performing in Los Angeles, word got around rapidly about my company. I swiftly gained a list of A-list clientele, which has made for some ‘mermazing’ experiences and stories! I have many repeat clients today who have hired me since my humble beginnings in 2005. I do birthday parties, al-fresco hotel rooftop pool parties, aquarium swims, commercial events, fundraisers and charity benefits, you name it. In addition, I have done underwater stunt doubling for films and commercials. Perhaps my favourite performances as a mermaid have been granting wishes for ill children around the world with life-threatening conditions. Q: Back to that amazing tail. What are the most-important attributes for a mermaid’s tail, and how was your tail constructed? A: I am a minimalist. I like things to look simple and sleek... and my mermaid tail is no exception. I dreamed of creating a tail that was very realistic, hiding my legs and heels very effectively. I desired a tail built for speed and endurance, that would withstand all manner of challenging environments. Swimming pools, oceans, hot springs, puddles, lakes/lochs, sandy beaches, rocky coastlines. With the ‘kelp’ of my friend and Hollywood special effects artist Allan Holt, this vision became a reality after seven months of true

Classic mermaid silhouette shot


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blood, sweat and tears. The shape of my tail fluke is a crescent, unlike many of the other ‘tails’ out there, which are shaped like a whale or dolphin tail. I wanted my design to appear unique, but also to emulate some of the fastest fish in the world. We created a mould of my body, and then sculpted clay around a fiberglass replica of my legs. A large negative mould of that clay tail was created after we hand-sculpted the entire thing, scale by scale. It was painstaking. We injected a medical-grade silicone into the mould with some neoprene and a customised monofin and voila... (well, I really simplified the process for you here!) we had a gorgeous, realistic, resilient mermaid tail that lasted me for almost ten years! Tail 2.0 was created from the same mould by Vincent Van Dyke Effects. I am still using that tail today! It weighs roughly 50 pounds on land and is neutrally buoyant in the water. It is a true ‘mer-sterpiece’, but is a real bugger to travel with! Q: What is your most-memorable experience as a professional mermaid? A: My most-memorable experience was granting a wish for a little girl called Lauren Cosgrove in Scotland. I swam out of the frigid waters of Loch Lomond and sat with her on the shoreline, answering her questions about mermaids and the ocean. It was so captivating being there with her that I forgot how cold I was. When I got out of the water over 20 minutes later, I was severely hypothermic. It was worth every goose bump! Little Lauren’s face, her energy and the sense of wonder I shared with her was nothing short of pure magic. Q: What is your most-embarrassing experience as a professional mermaid? A: Hmmm. Great question! I’ve never had a wardrobe malfunction (thank goodness!) and I truly love what I do. I mean... I guess being asked to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Justin Timberlake at his surprise birthday party was quite embarrassing... since I have a horrible singing voice... and he clearly doesn’t... but he was very polite and smiled anyway. Bless him. Q: You host the Mermaid Minute educational videos, and work tirelessly to promote the undersea world to children. Why are kids so important to you? A: Yes! Mermaid Minute and ocean ‘edutainment’ is my passion. I fell in love with the oceans from afar. I grew up in landlocked Pennsylvania, and my only window into the ocean was the TV. I watched PBS, namely. I was enchanted by Jacques Yves Cousteau, NOVA, and wildlife documentaries from the BBC. Since my heart was captured by wildlife films and books at that tender age, I believe other children should be able to have that same experience, too. It is an age for seeds to be planted, and love of certain things to blossom. Kids are inheriting the planet from us. They are heralds for the future of our oceans and our earth. If they love something and care about it, they will shout about it from the

Linden is dedicated to educating kids about the marine world

Linen in ‘mermaid mode’ for a beach photoshoot

rooftops! Why not encourage them to be ambassadors for our seas, so they will share it with all who will listen? They are little sea sponges who have boundless energy and enthusiasm to make a positive difference in this great world of ours! Kids are the best! Q: You worked with BodyGlove to create a child’s monofin. What was that experience like, and how have they been received? A: I partnered with BodyGlove in 2013 and designed my signature kid’s swim line, complete with monofins, PFDs (personal float devices), towels, boogie boards, masks, goggles and much more... and am continuing to develop adult monofins and other mermaid-inspired swim products for 2018. I never expected to be an ‘entrepremermaid’, but that is what has happened! It’s been a very exciting process, from which I have learned volumes! I could never have imagined I would be a product designer, but the experience has been extremely enriching. Taking what I know of swimming, ‘mergonomics’ and the water, I have done my best to help design functional, beautiful products with the support of an incredible team. We are thrilled with the continued growth and popularity of the Mermaid Linden by BodyGlove line. I truly believe we created the best children’s monofin on the market. I cannot wait for the adult monofin release in several months, along with some other top-secret products! Q: What does the future hold for Mermaid Linden? A: Based on my career history, anything is possible! My wildest dreams have been granted beyond expectation. Opportunities have come up beyond my wildest imagination! I sometimes reflect back over the past decade or so and cannot believe how much has happened... where I’ve travelled, the people I’ve met, the work I have produced, the children I have smiled with. And yet, there is so much more I’d love to do! My ultimate dream for the future is to have a full-length ocean educational programme for children both online and on network television.And that’s just the start! We’ll have to ‘sea’ where the currents take me, I suppose… n


PRODUCT REVIEW BODYGLOVE MERMAID LINDEN MONOFIN MARK EVANS: California-based Linden Wolbert has an unusual profession – among other things, this highly talented freediver is a professional mermaid. Now her purpose-built, custom-made tail cost several thousand dollars, but she has utilised all of her experience with a variety of monofins to team up with BodyGlove and create a little monofin especially for children that is essentially a dinky version of full-blown adult versions. Linden, who presents the Mermaid Minute educational videos on YouTube and other channels, is a passionate advocate for getting more youngsters involved in the sea, be it through diving, snorkelling, swimming, conservation or a blend of them all, and so being able to get a monofin that has all the performance characteristics of an adult monofin on to the market was a dream come true. She said: “By teaming up with BodyGlove, I have been able to create a monofin that is perfect for all my little Mermen and Mermaids.” The large plastic blade has high-efficiency water channels for added control, and rubber supports down either side, which not only help with the performance but also cover any sharp plastic edges. The super-soft foot pockets have quick-adjusting Velcro straps which can be released easily and efficiently, in the event the child needs to remove it in an emergency situation. The monofin fits US shoe size 1-4 (and Junior 7-13 with the included soft foam inserts inside the foot pockets). The age recommendation is for ages four and upwards, and I know of several smaller women who can easily fit their feet into the monofin. To test dive this monofin, I drafted in my son Luke, who has been snorkelling since he was four and has completed his Bubblemaker and SEAL Team programmes with PADI. I knew that he had the dolphin undulation movement down pat after seeing him demonstrate it in his swimming lessons, so I told him to maintain the same movement while wearing the monofin, just at a slower pace. His first couple of runs were along the surface, and he was splashing more than getting any propulsion, but once I explained he’d be better in mid-water, he started to come on in leaps and bounds. Within literally five minutes of donning the monofin for the first time ever, he was easily swimming 15 metres plus. As you can see from the photographs, he was very comfortable using the monofin, and even flashed me a cheeky grin as he glided past on one particularly long run. I asked him what he thought of the monofin once we were done for the day, and he replied: “It’s awesome! I can get loads of power and it didn’t feel like I was trying that hard compared with a dolphin kick with no fin on. I can’t wait to try it out in the sea and go swimming with the fish and other animals.” In the interests of making the testing more robust, we also got one of Luke’s classmates, Isobel Gray, to trial the monofin. She is a confident, proficient swimmer, though she had not really done much

Luke took to the monofin very quickly

Merboy in the making?

Getting to grips with the monofin

Isobel was a natural with the fin

snorkelling, but within a matter of minutes she was happily gliding smoothly a good 10-12 metres through mid-water using the monofin and looked very comfortable. Asked what she thought, Isobel said: “The monofin was lightweight and very easy to fit. I loved it because you went really fast and you didn’t actually need to kick that hard – it felt like you were gliding through the water.” www.bodyglove.com

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SPEARFISHING NEWS SPEARFISHING NEW ZEALAND CODE OF PRACTICE

PHOTO CREDIT: JOANNE-WESTON

• Take only what you need • Know and respect NZ Fisheries catch and size limits • Know and respect the rules of safe boating • Respect our marine reserves • Consider the safety of yourself and others • Show respect and consideration of other marine users • Clean your catch away from areas used by other divers, swimmers and beach users • Conduct yourself in a way that encourages others to view your sport favourably • Tow a readily visible dive float (Red, Yellow, Orange, ten litres minimum) • Respect the danger of spearguns, ensuring yours is unloaded and the tip covered when out of the water • Understand the dangers of hyperventilation • Dive within your means and ability (a fish is not worth your life!) • Tell someone your intentions (Where, When, What, How) • Know the weather and tides • Use the dive flag • Educate young people and others in these codes www.spearfishingnz.co.nz

PHOTO CREDIT: SERGOUA

Spearfishing New Zealand, the official organisation promoting and advocating for safe and sustainable use of natural fisheries resources by recreational spearfishers, states that spearfishing ‘is the most-environmentally friendly, selective and sustainable form of fishing. Choosing your catch, and then using your physical and mental skills to capture it without harming the environment or other marine life’. According to Spearfishing NZ, spearfishing in New Zealand dates back to the 1950s, when New Zealand’s Underwater Association’s clubs started to run competitions, and then over subsequent years, the numbers engaged in the sport – whether to get fresh fish for the dinner table or hunting in competitions – has steadily increased. Spearfishing NZ have a Code of Practice, many elements of which are applicable wherever you are on our water planet:

Survey to uncover extent of Taravana Syndrome among spearos Have you ever encountered neurological issues like vertigo, paralysis, visual and/or hearing impairment, a state of confusion or loss of memory after a heavy day of freediving or spearfishing? Well, there’s a chance that you may have suffered from what is known as ‘Taravana Syndrome’ a condition - somewhat similar to decompression sickness suffered by scuba divers - that researchers want to know more about. The syndrome was first detected among the Japanese Ama sponge divers in the late 1950s, but more research is needed. To that end, DAN Europe, the Apnea Academy and the Italian Federation of Underwater Activities (FIPSAS) are collaborating on a survey of as many freedivers and spearfishers they can find that have had such symptoms. The first step is to gather the highest-possible number of cases and people who have had, or suspect of having had, at least one episode that could be included in the studies. To take the survey in English, go to: pierluigileggeri.it

SPEARFISHING NEWS?

Competition coming up? Recently taken part in an event? New product you want to shout about? Spearfishing story or photograph you can’t wait to share? WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Email: mark@scubadivermag.com to be included in a forthcoming issue.

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SPEARFISHING WHAT’S NEW PARALENZ DIVE CAMERA

The Paralenz Dive Camera boasts ground-breaking features and a tough, durable design. It has a built-in depth sensor that eliminates the need for colour filters but gives you all the colours. It can display depth and temperature in the videos, adding a whole new aspect to them. It is a small lightweight package made from military-grade aluminium with a staggering depth rating of 200m - and it is capable of recording 4K video at 30fps for over two hours or 1080p for three-and-a-half hours. It comfortably and unobtrusively attaches to the side of your mask for ease of use. PARALENZ SPEARGUN MOUNT If you want to get shots even more at the point of action, then the Paralenz speargun mount allows you to place the action camera actually on to your speargun, to record you stalking and spearing your prey. www.paralenz.com

LASER TOOLS CO. INC. GRT58DC Introducing the world’s first Speargun Laser Aiming System, designed specifically for blue water and reef spearfishing. The GRT58DC includes a bright laser beam that pinpoints the exact point of the spear’s impact. This means more head shots, less bleed out and more first-shot kills. Here’s how it works the momentary thumb switch turns the laser on right before the shot is taken, ensuring stealthy stalks and minimal school notice. The bright laser dot is enhanced in size for quick-impact placement. This means that the precise shot location is known before the trigger is pulled. Red or green laser beams are available. Green is ten times brighter than red and often used in the pelagic zone. The Model GRT58DC green laser aiming system weights 108g underwater, so disturbance to buoyance is minimal. All components are 3D-printed with a tough resin for corrosion resistance and serviceability. Windage and elevation adjustments are included so that fine laser adjustments can be made even during the dive. A target is included for beam alignment during installation, along with the adjustable mount. The laser itself has a power cord that connects to the remote trigger battery supply, which doubles as a camera mount for live-action videos. Optional spacers are available to space the laser mount above different size bands. www.lasertoolsco.com

MARES VIPER PRO DS Mares have long championed spearfishermen, and offer a wide range of spearguns. The Viper Pro DS features a rigid anodised aluminium barrel with an upper shaft guide, a lower line guide, and an open muzzle configuration, with off-axis holes. The highly sensitive trigger mechanism is in a reversed position, and it has a stainless-steel side line release, as well as a new stainless steel trigger. There is a preformed handle with new high-functionality anatomic grip, and a variable deformation reinforced loading pad. It has a new 6.5mm single-barb Tahitian hardy shaft, and features two 16mm S-power speed circular slings with Dyneema wishbone. The Viper Pro DS includes a Spiro Vertical Reel, and is available in lengths 75cm, 90cm, 100cm, 110cm and 120cm. www.mares.com

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Dive Agency News Each month, we invite all the main dive training agencies to showcase new courses, forthcoming events, staff changes and promotions, and so on. scubadivermag.com/agencynews

Free PADI Master Scuba Diver Application in 2018 Join the best of the best in recreational scuba diving as a PADI Master Scuba Diver. To earn this rating you must log 50 dives and have your PADI Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver certifications, as well as five PADI Specialty course certifications. Visit padi.com or your PADI Dive Shop for more information.

Scuba Schools International is excited to announce the new range of Mermaid Student and Instructor Courses. For those with a lifelong dream of being a mermaid, this can now become reality! SSI has built a whole range of courses from the age of six to adults with Introduction, Confined, Ocean, and Modelling courses along with Instructor Training, all maintaining SSI’s high industry standards. The goal of SSI is to create safe, comfortable and all-round happy mermaids of all ages. Swimming with a mermaid’s tail is both a creative expression and a great way to work out. The experience of teaching both SSI’s Swimming and Freediving courses does not only guarantee highest quality of training and technique, but also fun and safety. The following programmes are available: Try Mermaid: Experience the feeling of being a mermaid, without committing to a full course. Mermaid: Learn all about being a mermaid in both confined water and pool environments. Ocean Mermaid: Take your confined water environment experience to the ocean and learn more about the sea and your underwater friends. Mermaid Model: Acquire the skills on how to achieve the perfect photos to always remember your mermaid experiences. Mermaid Instructor: Share your love for being a mermaid with everyone by teaching a comprehensive course to create safe, comfortable mermaids. www.divessi.com

Congratulations to PADI Dive Shops and PADI Professionals For the eighth consecutive year, PADI is pleased to congratulate PADI Members who in 2017 certified more PADI divers in the Asia-Pacific region than any year in PADI’s 52-year history. Well done on helping more people confidently experience the underworld while creating a growing number of ocean ambassadors to help preserve the marine environment. www.padi.com

The growth of SDI in the Asia-Pacific region is continuing at an even-faster rate. Just since the start of 2018, new SDI dive centres have been signed up in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. Thank you for choosing SDI. In order to keep up with the demand for SDI and TDI instructors, the next Instructor Trainer workshops are all being held in the Asia-Pacific region. In April, there is an ITW in China while in May there is another ITW in South Korea. On 21-29 April, HQ staff member Mark Powell will be travelling to Australia to run an Instructor Trainer Workshop and to support the great work being done by the Australian Regional Office. The ITW will be held in Sydney and there are already candidates from all over Australia booked onto the workshop. If you are interested in taking your career to the next level, then get in contact with the Australia regional office as there are only a few more spaces left on this workshop. www.tdisdi.com

The International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD) has just opened its Indo-Pacific office, which will be serving all IANTD members in Seychelles, Maldives, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Timor Leste, Brunei, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Heading up the team in the Indo-Pacific office will be Christian Heylen, formerly of PURE technical diving in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh. www.iantd.com

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he sun was baking down and temperature in the shade was 42 degrees C. As my new friend and dive buddy Nathan and I hauled our dive gear down along the jetty, the sweat was literally pouring of us. Kitting up and doing a bit of a dive briefing we hit the water, a very pleasant 20 degrees C - heavenly cool and refreshing - and we were soon swimming in among a fantastic assortment of construction rubble, seaweed and complete and broken pylons of the old Rapid Bay Jetty. Shafts of light shone through the jetty on to small schools of fish like stage lights illuminating groups of little actors and actresses! The place was buzzing with energy and excitement and the surrounding seascape was simply amazing. At 470 metres long with a 200 metre T-section at the end, Rapid Bay Jetty offered a massive area to find something as elusive as a leafy sea dragon! Following Nathan out beyond the old pylons into a vast area of seagrass, I felt excited. If anyone knew where to find a dragon, I guessed he would. My dragon quest had been a bit of a mission so far. I had planned to hire a tank and dive on my own, but the local air station at Normanville had closed down and the next nearest obvious shop to hire tanks and get air was an hour and a quarter away at Port Nourlanga! Asking around however, I eventually got a number for NB Scuba (www.nbscuba.com.au) and Nathan, who not only offered personal leafy sea dragon tours, but would meet me down at the jetty with tanks and weights! Now that seemed like a plan I couldn’t refuse. Swimming over the equivalent of a vast underwater meadow, we passed a pair of a squid hovering over a sand patch looking like a couple of spaceships about to propel themselves off into another world. A shoal of zebra fish dipped in and out of the seagrass grazing like their African namesakes on a Savanah plain. There were areas where the grass gave way to rubble encrusted in sponges and other colourful invertebrates. Here I imagined would be great place to look for small critters, but right now it was dragons we were after. Another five minutes went by and I noticed we were in a really thick area of seagrass - this could be dragon territory! Leafy sea dragons are masters of camouflage with green or brown bodies covered in branching appendages, which make them look just like floating seaweed, allowing them to blend perfectly into their background, so I wasn’t sure how we’d spot one, but there must be a knack and I guessed Nathan had it, as I noticed him start to point at something in the grass. At first I didn’t see a thing. I wondered if there was a dragon there at all, perhaps there was something else, but then I spotted it, my first real-life dragon. It wasn’t until I was almost right on top of it that I eventually saw it, a fully grown male with eggs so completely perfectly designed to blend with its surroundings, what a treat. It was as magnificent as I’d seen on TV and print. Hard to believe a creature could look so amazing, so unusual. I was so in awe of my first sea dragon it was another full five minutes until I spotted his girlfriend a very short distance away! Their biology is a woman’s dream, and a guys’ nightmare! A female dragon produces several hundred eggs, which it then lays on the tail of a male dragon. He then fertilises them and carries them, for anything between four and six weeks until they hatch. The transfer of the eggs is thought to take place at night but has never been seen or recorded as yet! Despite this behavior, some females stay around and keep the males company.

Leafy sea dragon

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Dragon

In search of a There are some creatures worth going the extra mile to see. GAVIN ANDERSON went halfway round the world in search of one on his wish list - the amazing leafy sea dragon Photographs by GAVIN ANDERSON


Perhaps it’s just those anxious females that worry they’ve chosen a reliable male! Dragons can grow to almost a third of a metre long, but this doesn’t really make them any easier to find, such is their amazing camouflage! They feed on larval fish, plankton and mysid shrimp, using their long tube-like mouths like vacuum cleaners. I have to admit spending a full 20 minutes of our dive just hanging out and watching the pair as they gracefully danced in the seagrass, quite comfortable in our presence. I did keep my distance - to get the best wildlife images, I believe you need to respect a creature’s personal space, especially that of a dragon. I was more than happy. I’d come a long way and seen a pair of dragons in the first 30 minutes of our dive, but Nathan had more to show me! On our way back to the jetty, we passed a small group of mosaic leatherjackets, a juvenile scalyfin and a massive cuttlefish, but then directly beneath one of the large uprights he led me to a tiny baby dragon, all of two inches long. The majority of a dragon’s eggs which hatch are eaten quickly, so to see this little guy surviving and fending for himself was simply amazing. Leaving the little dragon we headed along the sandy bottom under the jetty on our way to the T-section, where Nathan had told me the larger concentrations of fish tended to congregate. On our way we searched for little cuttlefish and crabs and a variety of other fascinating creatures that live under this amazing jetty, hiding in among the rubble. Nathan had told me about recently finding blue-ringed octopus, his first in diving regularly here over a period of three years. As we neared the T-junction, the light ahead seemed to be diminishing and I soon saw why - there were literally hundreds of old wives, also known as zebra-tail or zebra fish. Old wives were originally classified as a butterflyfish, but are actually more closely related to the boarfish. Their name resulted from sailors, who thought the grunting noise they made when caught sounded something like the nagging of an old woman! In among the huge shoal we found long noise boarfish, moonlighters, sea sweeps, bullseye, silver drummer, magpie perch and more leatherjackets. It was like swimming in an aquarium,

Entry and exit is a simply affair ‘Warty’ crab made a colourful subject

Nathan is a superb guide and knows his leafy sea dragons

Cuttlefish displaying its array of colours

“It is hard enough spotting a sea dragon by day, so we hurried to a place close to the jetty’s T-junction where Nathan knew of another pair and, like a sniffer dog on a drugs bust, he led us straight to them”

Exploring under the Rapid Bay Jetty


RAPID BAY JETTY

The original Rapid Bay Jetty was built in 1940 as part of the limestone and dolomite mine located nearby and was last used commercially in 1990. Diver still used it up until 2004, when it was deemed unsafe and closed and there were plans to demolish and remove it. Only after considerable pressure from divers and fisherman and the local tourist interests was the old jetty left to collapse slowly and on its own, while a new jetty was constructed right next door to the old one and opened in 2009, making diving a lot easier again. Leafy sea dragons

The jetty was a photographer’s heaven

“Dragons can grow to almost a third of a metre long, but this doesn’t really make them any easier to find, such is their amazing camouflage!”

there were so many different fish species. I can’t recall being in such a wonderful setting with so many fish for a very long time. Sinking down to the seafloor I came across a stunning multi-coloured senator wrasse hiding under some soft coral, and a bright purple southern goatfish feeling for tasty morsels to snack on with his whiskers in the sand. Our dive time soon hit 90 minutes and I still had 80 bar left, but Nathan was getting cold so we headed back, exiting up the new jetty’s large easy steps and past a small group of hapless fishermen. The walk back to the cars wasn’t too bad as we left our dive gear and took our empty tanks back to the car. A bite to eat and something to drink and after an hour and a half, we kitted up again and headed back into the water once more.

The jetty by day is incredibly scenic and offers amazing wide-angle vistas, but as the sun falls towards the water, a whole host of cephalopods, crustaceans and unusual shy fish start to emerge and it then becomes a macro photographer’s dream. It wasn’t long before I spotted a beautiful little clingfish in some rubble, similar to our own British clingfish, but somehow cuter. On the pillars, spider crabs started to climb down towards the sea floor, while just behind a pillar a huge cuttlefish hovered over the sand like a spacecraft about to launch itself at some unsuspecting prey. Seeing us, it altered its body colour and shape to disappear into the background. Their ability to match their surroundings and become virtually invisible has had scientists baffled for years, such is the complexity of their mechanisms and science. As we headed over the sand shining our lights on the bottom, little shrimp and prawns jumped out of the way, but one little crab was slower to move - bright orange and completely covered in little warty growths, it made a great photo subject. It is hard enough spotting a sea dragon by day, so we hurried to a place close to the jetty’s T-junction where Nathan knew of another pair and, like a sniffer dog on a drugs bust, he led us straight to them. They were feeding on a shoal of tiny fry, sucking them in with their long snouts and seemed more confident to leave the protection of the weedy bottom as day under the jetty was turning into night. Watching them feed was a real treat and a brilliant end to my days diving in a very special place full of mystery, magic and some very special sea creatures. I was strangely glad the local dive operation had closed down, as finding Nathan and the dragons was a very special experience. n


DEEPBLU: EXPERIENCED APP,

FOR DIVERS OF ALL LEVELS Todd Allen Williams explores the beginnings of Deepblu Deepblu,, and finds out what the future holds for this innovative app Photographs courtesy of DEEPBLU

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rom its beginnings in a small office in 2016, Deepblu has become a force in the diving world which allows divers to find the best dives with the finest operators in whichever spot they’d like to jet off to on this huge planet, so it’s only fitting that the app has evolved a section which is a dive planning platform, called Planet Deepblu. It all started with one idea, an accessible dive computer that was safe, reliable, and had a good user interface. This was combined with the concept of the Deepblu app, which makes it easy to seamlessly upload your dive logs to your smartphone via Bluetooth technology. Planet Deepblu is an interactive world map that, in the words of the company, is designed to help you ‘discover your next dive’. It features dive countries, dive regions, and dive spots fuelled by user-generated content. When logs, videos, photos, and other information are shared with a tagged location, they’re automatically added to the map in their home among the thousands of other dive sites available for browsing. From there, users can rate dive sites, write reviews, and even get in touch with dive businesses. Planet Deepblu’s latest feature allows for direct discussion with dive businesses all over the world, which allows users and businesses to make travel arrangements together. No matter what stretch of land and sea you might be visiting, the app and website can put you in touch with an affiliated dive operator in the region and allow you to figure out all of the details before you even leave home. To better assist in your choice of destination, the team at Deepblu has added dive country bios to multiple sites around the world. Looking for a wreck dive during the dry season in your nation of choice? Find out on Planet Deepblu, where you can discover dive site features, climate, when to go, languages spoken, health and safety tips, costs, and other things to be aware of before you get your bags packed. Planet Deepblu is for the planet of divers, and is the ultimate tool for those who want to know before they go. User-generated reviews and unbiased content allow for a clearer picture than ever available before, so you know that, while the platform is free, you’ll be spending your money wisely when you arrive at your destination. Surprises are great in some instances, but typically, during travel isn’t one of them. While striving to create an environment in which divers can find their next favorite spot, Deepblu makes an effort to travel around the globe, listening to and connecting with divers to find out what they need in their particular region.

Deepblu travels the world in search of ideas from the best dive operators in the business


DOWNLOAD

THE APP

For more about Deepblu, visit: Deepblu.co m To try it out, down load the Deepblu app in the iTunes Store or Google Play Store

Tars Geerts of Deepblu takes a time out to test the waters himself

Bryan Horne, of Substation Curacao and the Dive Task Force, talks to James Tsuei of Deepblu

One such diver is Bryan Horne, who the team met recently on a trip to Curacao. Bryan is the head of Dive Curacao, a business which promotes diving in the region, and works with conservationists with the goal of keeping the seas clean and healthy so that future genera generations may enjoy its natural beauty as well. Growing up with the popular underwater stories of the 1970s, it didn’t take long for him to want to get into the water himself. He said: “I soon grew out of that insatiable imagination as life, school, work and family became more important. Then, one day, on a beach in Mexico, a crazy idea literally surfaced to learn to scuba dive, and that changed everything from that day forward!” …and change it did, for him and those around him. In addition to having dived all over the world, Bryan operates the world’s only research submarine that also provides leisure tours, dubbed Substation Curacao. He frequently descends 300m under the sea to have a peek around. Just as impressive as his once-in-a-lifetime tours are the conservation efforts undertaken by himself and the divers of Curacao. His tour itself allows for monitoring of the deeper reefs in the region, which are good at providing a forecast for problems such as ocean acidification, pollution, climate change, and invasive species. But it’s not all deep-reef observation. A handful of passionate dive operators on Curacao have teamed up to form the Curacao Dive Task Force, which is committed to safe and sustainable tourism. The team of the Dive Task Force engages in education and outreach programmes in order to help visitors have the best experience possible while at the same time taking care of their host country. The members of the group, who of course compete like any business, also work together for the greater good by hosting beach clean-ups, dive and music festivals, and other pro programmes that raise awareness in order to give back to land and sea. All of this comes back to what matters to the traveller… comfort. When good people are coming together to make sure that the seas we dive in are healthy, everyone benefits from their next dive. Deepblu is excited to continue learning, travel travelling, and contributing to the world around them. The company will continue to take every suggestion seriously, interact with divers and dive pros, and strive to make sure that every dive holiday is the best dive holiday. With quality business partners like Bryan all over the world, Planet Deepblu is a platform which will continue to grow in a direction that helps meet the needs of more divers every day. n ADVERTISING FEATURE


Monthly series in which we will focus on a particular HOUSE REEF, kicking off with the world-famous dive site in Wakatobi Text and photographs by WALT STEARNS

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rriving guests receive a preview of what awaits on Wakatobi’s House Reef when their shuttle boat arrives at the resort’s jetty. Right below, cobalt blue waters transition abruptly to lighter shades of turquoise, amber and green as a vertical coral rampart rises from the depths to within scant metres from the surface. In between this deep blue boundary line and the gleam of the white sand on the beach lies a shallow realm of coral heads and seagrass flats, all remarkably healthy and quite dense in places. It’s something you wouldn’t expect so close to a resort. At the outer end of the shelf, the House Reef takes a near-vertical plunge some 75m before bottoming out. Along its face, a thriving array of sponges, hard and soft corals shelter a diverse population of invertebrates and fish, with the mixture of species changing as depth increases. Water clarity in the 30-metre-plus range allows ample ambient light to filter down, adding to the visual drama of the walls and undercut slopes. Passing by the outer end of the Jetty, on the way to the drop-off, it’s hard to not pause and have a peek under the structure to see what’s there. In addition to providing shade for schools of fish, the pier’s large concrete columns and beams are home to an assortment of shrimps and crabs. The wealth of macro subjects I have found nearby is seemingly innumerable. I’ve documented everything from the more-expected, like anemonefish -seven different species inside a 30-metre circle of the resort’s jetty - to the sublime, like leaf scorpionfish and pipehorses. With reef contours of this nature, it’s easy to perform multi-level dives with bottom times of 70 to 80 minutes without going into decompression. And time spent off-gassing in the shallows can often be the most-interesting part of the dive. Searching around the seagrass beds and branching coral colonies in the sunlit shallows have rendered subjects ranging from pyjama cardinalfish to robust, halimeda and ornate ghost pipefish.

Then there are of course the invertebrates, which include a bevy of nudibranch species. And when the sun goes down, the life on the bottom becomes a carnival of colour and small creatures of the weird and wonderful. Though it is easy for photographers to get caught up in their quest to capture many of the reef’s smaller residents, I often favour wide-angle photography. Unlike many near-shore sites, the coral formations on the shallows of Wakatobi’s House Reef are quite beautiful. Plus, not all of the House Reef’s marine life is small, and you are likely to encounter one or more of the resident adult-size green turtles cruising the reef by day, or sleeping beneath an overhang by night. While the pier makes a great entry point, the further you get away from it, the better the scenics get. The one thing you factor into your plan is the current, as it is generated by tide changes. For a few hours of the day currents flow north to south following the reef’s outer edge. Slack high or low tide provides an hour of no current, then conditions reverse as the flow turns to run south to north. During these tidal flows, the currents can be anywhere from mild to robust. The stronger flows can take place in the middle of each phase. Divers and snorkellers need not fight the current’s ebb and flow. In addition to the ‘pool’ being always open (the dive centre personnel have a watch between 6am and 10pm), Wakatobi also provides a taxi boat drop-off service for guests exploring the House Reef. On request, the dive centre’s staff will take you and a buddy to an up-current section on the reef aboard one of the resort’s skiffs for an incredible drift along the wall back to the resort’s jetty. With more than 40-plus named sites within easy access by the resort’s day boats, and the opportunity for dives of up to 70-minutes each, it would be easy to think of the House Reef as just an optional add-on for the afternoon. But don’t rule out the idea of making the House Reef an all-day adventure because, as house reefs go, this one is a cut above the rest. n


SCHOLARSHIP DIARY

The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society is a non-profit, educational organisation whose mission is to promote educational activities associated with the underwater world. It has offered scholarships for over 35 years. owuscholarship.org

WELCOME 2018 SCHOLAR OLIVIA JOHNSON PHOTOGRAPHS BY OLIVIA JOHNSON

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had previously heard about the Rolex Scholarship and had been following the 2016 and 2017 Scholars on their journeys through their social media pages, but had never really known when would be a good time to apply. Encouraged by peers and colleagues, I made a last-minute application before the deadline in December. I could not have been more surprised when I received an email from Jayne Jenkins, Vice President of the Rolex Scholarship Australasian Operations, informing me I had reached the final interview stage. A phone call later that afternoon with Jayne left me questioning whether I was, in fact, awake or dreaming, after she had just informed me I was the 2018 Australasian Rolex Scholar. It still has not sunk in - and I am not sure it ever will! I was born in Hobart, Tasmania, and I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science from the University of Tasmania with majors in Marine and Antarctic studies, Ecology and Zoology. My fascination for the ocean began at a young age with a father who was a commercial diver, and a big love for swimming, snorkelling and fossicking through rock pools. However, I discovered my true passion for all things marine when I was in Year 9 at Taroona High School in a course called Exploring the Ocean. After only a few lessons, I knew this was what I wanted to spend my life learning about and being a part of. I progressed to the advanced course, which allowed me to gain my PADI Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, and Rescue Diver certifications, further opening up what the underwater world had to offer. During my university degree, I undertook a commercial course in Scientific Diving, which

Olivia Johnson

allowed me to gain my ADAS and AAUS certifications. I have further continued my diving education by working with different marine diving research projects at my university, at a local dive centre where I have attained my SSI Divemaster certification, as well as for my honours degree, where I have undertaken a closed-circuit rebreather and advanced nitrox course. After graduation, I received an internship for six-months as a marine biologist at one of the most renowned resorts in the Maldives, One & Only Reethi Rah. From here, I received training in manta ray and turtle identification and cataloguing, coral bleaching events, coral restoration projects, Olive Ridley turtle rescues and ghost net removal. I assisted in turtle DNA sampling, green sea turtle nesting and hatching events, as well as making a positive impact on guests through education and guided snorkelling tours, opening up the underwater world to them. I have been lucky enough to have worked, researched and dived in some amazing parts of the world, including right here in my own state Tasmania, the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii, Maldives and Japan, but I couldn’t be more excited to explore the rest of the world’s oceans during my scholarship year. My key areas of interest include ecology, climate change, bridging the communication gap between the latest science and the public’s knowledge, as well as human interactions and impacts on the marine environment. I feel extremely honoured to have received such a life-changing opportunity, and I hope to make a significant contribution to the underwater world during my scholarship year, wherever it may take me. I endeavour to give back positively and contribute to the oceans in the same way it has influenced my life. My first stop was to New York in April to meet my fellow 2018 Scholars and the Rolex Scholarship family. Receiving this scholarship will provide me with an incredible learning opportunity to help develop a career path in the underwater world and make global connections. I hope to be an ambassador for the conservation and protection of our oceans, and for women in marine research and diving. I would strongly encourage other young divers and scientists who are considering applying for this scholarship in the future to fill in an application, because you just never know who the selection panel may be looking for. n

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THE BOAT’S EMERGENCY OXYGEN CYLINDER WAS EMPTY!

Each month, DIVERS ALERT NETWORK ASIA-PACIFIC will examine a potential diving incident and how it can be avoided (if possible), or best dealt with after the event Photographs by STEPHEN FRINK and MARK EVANS

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id you know that oxygen first aid is the most-important and effective first aid for injured divers? It can prevent symptoms from worsening and can, in some mild cases, successfully eliminate symptoms without the need for treatment in a recompression chamber and the need for possible evacuation. But, equipped with this knowledge, do you take the time to find out if the operator you are planning to dive with is prepared to help you should you need it? If not, read on, these real-life case examples may encourage you to do so.

CASE 1: LIVEABOARD, MALAYSIA: OPERATOR UNPREPARED

It was during a surface interval on the second day of diving that the diver’s symptoms commenced with chest pain. Upon laying down the diver felt nauseous, the chest pain intensified, and severe itching of the chest and stomach began. Red welts appeared and spread, covering most of the torso. Advice was sought from the Divemaster, who thought it was an allergic reaction. The diver, having consumed a seafood lunch, considered this a possibility. Over the coming hours the rash became dark red and very painful (with touch and body movement), although the itching had subsided. Advice was then sought from the captain (also a Divemaster). The diver suggested breathing oxygen (O2), but the captain was positive it was an allergic reaction. Although doubtful, the diver allowed herself to be persuaded to ‘wait and see’. By the next day the rash had improved but there was still some pain. The diver’s husband spoke to the captain and suggested that although it might not be a bend, oxygen was ‘worth a try’. The captain agreed. It was then discovered that the boat’s ‘emergency’ oxygen cylinder was empty, so some was decanted from their nitrox supply. Fortunately, the diver’s symptoms subsided, and by the next morning the rash had all but disappeared. DAN Comment: The Divemaster and captain should have readily provided oxygen, rather than the diver and her husband having to ask. Liveaboards are often a great distance from help, so it is even more important for the boat to be equipped. The diver was fortunate in that she had ceased diving - continuing is likely to have intensified her symptoms, thereby worsening her condition. It is inappropriate and unwise for a Divemaster or captain to withhold oxygen because they don’t think a diver is suffering from DCI. Although dive professionals are taught about the recognition and first aid for DCI and other diving accidents, this is relatively basic and most have little or no additional diving medical knowledge or experience. For this reason, most dive professionals (and other divers) should never put themselves in the position of trying to diagnose any medical problem, such as possible DCI.

CASE 2: MALAPASCUA, PHILIPPINES: EMERGENCY PLAN IN PLACE

Not wanting to miss the chance to see the thresher sharks again, it was the third early morning start for the diver, who was feeling tired. On the way back to shore she started to feel a minor tingling in her knees. Knowing something was wrong, she immediately asked for oxygen. Fortunately, the boat was equipped and she started breathing O2 straight away and continued doing so until the boat arrived at shore (approximately 25 minutes later), at which point the dive shop manager checked the diver’s symptoms and immediately called the DAN Diving Emergency Service (DES) hotline for advice: 1800 088 200 (Within Australia) or +61-8-8212 9242 (from Outside Australia). The diver was advised to breathe near-100 percent O2 for a few hours, for which the operator was adequately prepared, rest and see if the symptoms improved. The diver’s condition did not improve, so she was required to travel by boat and car to reach a chamber in Cebu. Fortunately, the operator was very prepared and the diver could breathe O2 the entire way, nearly four hours, while being accompanied by a staff member from the dive centre. The diver underwent one recompression treatment, to which she responded well, and made a full recovery. DAN Comment: This diver was fortunate the operator she chose to dive with was well prepared and she was able to breathe O2 (although the concentration is unknown) from the very first onset of symptoms to arrival at the chamber. She still required treatment and one wonders what her condition might have been had the operator been unprepared – she might have been considerably worse and may have required multiple treatments and/or been left with residual symptoms.

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CASE 3: LIVEABOARD, NORTHERN INDIAN OCEAN: WE HAVE OXYGEN, BUT DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE IT!

The diver was on a liveaboard near an archipelago in the northern Indian Ocean. The diver has completed ten dives over four days. All dives were on air and conducted within the computer’s no-decompression stop limits. The deepest dive of the series was to 29m; the other dives were to the same or shallower depths. On day three the diver chose not to participate in two morning dives due to a headache, nausea and pain in both hips. Later that same day, feeling better, the diver completed three afternoon dives. Approximately one hour after the last dive, the headache, nausea and hip pain returned along with thigh pain. In this case, the boat was equipped with oxygen but the crew was not familiar with the equipment or how to administer oxygen first aid, which led to a delay in the diver’s treatment. DAN Comment: Fortunately, this incident was not an emergency, as the delay could have been detrimental to the diver. This case serves to highlight that the availability of oxygen is important, but if the staff is not appropriately trained in the provision of oxygen first aid, then it is of little value. Wherever oxygen is available, there should be staff trained and competent in oxygen provision, basic first aid and CPR. It is not enough to simply have had basic training. The staff must practice if they are to maintain familiarity and competency in these skills. n

Wherever I am diving, I take DAN with me

IS YOUR DIVE OPERATOR PREPARED?

Oxygen should be available wherever diving is conducted. Even if a dive site may be only 15-20 minutes from shore, what may seem to be a short delay can sometimes affect the extent of recovery, or in some instances, the chance of survival, especially in the event of a cerebral arterial gas embolism (i.e. bubbles in blood vessels supplying the brain). Before you book your next dive trip or liveaboard, make sure you ask the operator the following questions, so you know you will be looked after in an emergency: • Is O2 available on all the dive boats? • Can the operator’s equipment provide high-concentration O2 to a breathing and non-breathing diver? • How many hours O2 supply do they have? Is it enough to get to appropriate medical care? • Is their staff trained in O2 First Aid? • Do they have an Emergency Plan? As the region’s largest diving health and safety organisation, DAN is here to help operators get prepared in terms of appropriate equipment as well as training. DAN provides a full range of courses from Oxygen First Aid, First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries, CPR, and more. Finally, all divers can call DAN for advice, however, we can only arrange an emergency medical evacuation and treatment (chamber, hospital) for current Members (within the limits of their coverage). www.danap.org

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Worldwide Emergency Evacuation and Dive Injury Treatment Coverage from the experts in diving accident management.

www.danap.org

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Q&A : Phil Short

IANTD UK TRAINING DIRECTOR PHIL SHORT is the man to go to when you want to explore virgin cave systems, venture deep underwater to some long-forgotten shipwreck, or delve into some historical site lying hundreds of metres below the surface. Scuba Diver talked to the expedition expert about what drives his interests. Photographs by JANNE SUHONEN, BRETT SEYMOUR, GAVIN NEWMAN, ANDERS TORTENSSON and courtesy of PHIL SHORT

Q: You are renowned for some of your ground-breaking expeditions - have you always been an adventurer? A: As a young boy, play was anything and everything outdoors, swimming in the local river and making rafts, building tree houses and dens, and even digging tunnels (As a huge early life fan of The Great Escape, especially Steve McQueen… I still am!). This beginning lead to adventure sports holidays with abseiling, climbing, kayaking and, of course, caving. As a college student I had a Saturday job in the local camping and outdoors shop and we were asked to put a notice up for a talk at the local university, Cave Diving. Of course I went and sat enthralled by my now-friend Martyn Farr’s tales of exploration beneath the earth and left with an early copy of The Darkness Beckons, which I read and read again. And as they say, ‘the rest was history’. I was proud and honoured to feature in the recent newest edition of Martyn’s book with a description of Bill Stone’s J2 cave expedition in 2013, where I spent 45 days living underground and exploring virgin cave. Q: How did you get into diving in the first place? A: I started from a background of dry caving, or speleology, and fascinated by the submerged sections of cave where the roof dipped to meet the water, I joined the British Cave Diving Group as a trainee diver and searched out basic scuba training through a dive school in Poole, Dorset. The instructor of that course, Steve Axtell, was an inspiration and his teaching and enthusiasm birthed in me a love of diving that has never diminished, and I doubt ever will. Q: When did you first get drawn to technical diving? A: You’ve likely heard the phrase ‘the right tool for the job?’ Well, I never really thought of myself as a technical diver, just a passionate (obsessed) diver who would learn new skills, techniques and then practice them to safely achieve the dives I wanted to make to visit the parts of the underwater world that interested me most. I still dive single tank occasionally, when it is right for the dive - my wife and I did a 6m shore dive the morning after our sunset wedding in Grand Cayman and it was one of my life top dives! But to answer your question, I first moved into diving with gases other than air and multiple cylinder configurations in the mid-1990s.

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Descending into the J2 cave sump

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In the frozen wastelands of Norway

In the depths of Ojamo mine in Finland at the infamous Hell’s Gate

The J2 cave camp

Hard at work at the Antikythera site

Q: For you personally, what is the attraction of technical diving? A: Really this question is linked to the one above regarding my entry into ‘technical diving’. The real attraction, if you wish to call it that, is safety, using multiple cylinders to give redundancy, using various mixed gases to reduce or eliminate narcosis, and to lower decompression sickness risk. The benefits can be summed up in cave diving pioneer Check Exley’s book Blueprint for Survival, where he covers the vital rules to safely dive in flooded caves, such as three light sources, continuous guideline and most important of all… training! Once all that is achieved the benefit is to see places and things no one has seen before, a virgin newly discovered shipwreck or an unexplored cave. Those lures are genuinely why I do it. Q: You have logged thousands of hours on closed-circuit rebreathers. How much difference has this technology made to your expeditions? A: I have to say the difference has been immeasurable and I can illustrate that with one particular example from my career. On the J2 project in Southern Mexico, led by Bill Stone, my friend Marcin Gala and I were privileged to be the exploratory team beyond sump two and the first human beings ever to pass the 600-metre-long sump four to explore virgin dry cave beyond. Now to pass that 600-metre-long sump did not take just one dive, rather tens

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Squeezing through a gap in Picos in Spain

of dives transporting gear to camp beyond sump two and multiple dives to lay line and pass, survey and then transport gear to explore beyond in sump four. Of course, in modern cave diving, 600 metres is a short sump, but this 600-metre-long sump was over one kilometre of vertical descent and over ten kilometres of horizontal caving to reach! Rebreathers were the only way, as you can’t just nip back to the surface for a cylinder fill. It took a team of 55 people three months to achieve that exploration, with Marcin and I spending nine days beyond sump two alone on the final exploration.

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The newest

in


Checking out an ore cart at 70m in Langban Mine in Sweden

On the Aquarius site in Key Largo, Florida

Surfacing from a cold dive in Finland

In the Ressel system on the Suunto ‘why I dive’ shoot

Q: You have been involved in some seriously challenging expeditions around the world. What is it about putting yourself in these demanding situations that you obviously thrive on? A: The drive to explore. As Hillary was first to summit Everest, as Amundsen was first to reach the South Pole, and as Armstrong was first to stand on the moon, the spirit of human exploration fuels my passion to visit remote parts of our planet and often spend long periods of time cold or hot, wet, dirty, hungry and exhausted for the chance to explore. Q: What has been your worst moment while diving or on expedition? A: A sad, sad memory, but one I keep with me to remember and honour a friend. I was on an expedition to explore and map an undived mine some years back, and the expedition was one of the best for the camaraderie that makes expedition life so great. In the team were divers who have become lifelong friends, almost family and that means a lot.

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On the Tulsamerican B-24 recovery project

One of the support divers sadly passed away due to undiagnosed medical reasons that led to an embolism and we all lost a great friend… It was so hard for me and us all. In our friend’s honour, the expedition continued, pulling us closer still to each other and led on to a second exped in the same mine some years later. I miss you my friend, you are remembered. Q: On the flip side, what has been your best moment while diving or on expedition? A: This is the easiest question you have asked! The person next to you and the entire team on the dive, in the remote camp or underground. That camaraderie is golden and dispels fear, belittles fatigue and hunger, and fuels you with support, shared endeavour and, of course, banter! Q: Which expeditions or projects have been the most-memorable for you over the years? A: Probably the two stand-out projects for me of my career have been the Antikythera Shipwreck expedition and the J2 Cave expedition, although there have been so many wonderful expeditions over the years. What particularly stands out and makes Antikythera special is the fact that my business partner and wife, Gemma, and I were able to complete four seasons of the project together as she is a bottom diver and the team’s medic. What better than to be doing what you love with the person you love! Langban Mine in Sweden

The Antikythera team doing a Cousteau re-enactment

Q: What’s next for Phil Short? A: My wife and I set up a company two years ago called Dark Water Exploration Ltd (www.darkwaterexploration. com) to serve the scientific diving community and in those years we have worked with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, The US National Parks Service, the Greek Ephorate of Submerged Antiquities, Lund University Sweden and the US DPAA among others on Roman shipwrecks, wooden sailing ships, caves and a B-24 bomber and the next year is busy with continuations of some of these projects and the beginnings of some exciting new ones with these teams and others. On a lighter note, I’m actually 50 later this year, so looking for a great dive to pass that anniversary! n

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True exploration in the heart of Bunaken Marine Park

• • • •

Technical Diving Trimix and CCR Multi-agency training State-of-the-art facilities

• • • •

Virgin dive sites Specialised equipment Expert advisors Luxury dive boats

www.oasisexplorers.com Based at Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort and Spa

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What’s New

APEKS RK3 FINS

SANTI DIVING PRIMALOFT SOCKS

The Apeks RK3 fins have been extremely popular since they were first launched, scoring highly in our recent group test and in Long Term Test. Designed in collaboration with the US military and renowned for outstanding performance and reliability, the RK3 is a rugged thermoplastic rubber fin with a chunky spring strap on the heel. The black originals were soon joined by some snazzy white versions, and now the RK3 is available in grey, yellow and orange. www.apeksdiving.com

Santi Diving Primaloft socks are made from the Primaloft Silver series insulation, and are characterized by an ergonomic shape and exceptional flexibility. They are lightweight, durable and breathable, and easy to wash and dry, and they come in sizes ranging from XXS to XXL. www.santidiving.com

MARES JUNO AND JUPITER

FINNSUB FLY SPELEO (WITH OR WITHOUT WEIGHT POCKETS) Finnsub have extended their sidemount range with the launch of the Fly Speleo. This two-layer wing comes in two sizes and two styles (valves/ holes inside and outside) – valves inside are required by real explorers and cave divers, and valves inside are more common in the recreational market. It is equipped with a one-continuous piece of webbing harness, is designed to be perfectly streamlined even when full of air, and the soft weight pack can take up to 14kg of lead. www.finnsub.com

The Juno is a frameless single-lens mask with a soft, comfortable silicone skirt that incorporates a pivoting buckle for the strap. It is available in a wide range of colours – blue/white, lime/black, pink/clear, white/clear, white/black, white/blue, and red/black. For those with a wider face, then the Jupiter is the same style as the Juno but with an XL skirt for bigger faces. The Jupiter – also £35 - is available in black/white, blue/black, red/white and white/black. www.mares.com

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OMS SMARTSTREAM HARNESS The SmartStream Harness has been developed to aid configuration challenges which may arise when donning a heavy rig. By pulling the waist straps forward, the shoulder straps secure to the diver’s shoulders and back. This unique OMS system allows the use of OMS Weight Pockets to be attached, or even extra space to hold a canister light. The Harness features three-and-a-half metres of 5cm nylon webbing and six 316 Stainless Steel D-Rings with weight stops included. One size fits all – you just cut the webbing to fit. The Smartstream webbing with stainless hardware is £125, with aluminium hardware it is £149, and with chemically resistant webbing it comes in at £199. www.omsdive.com

FOURTH ELEMENT XEROTHERM (TOP AND LEGGINGS)

AQUALUNG PHAZER FINS

From beginner to expert, Aqua Lung’s Phazer fin, with its revolutionary composite wave rib technology, provides the perfect balance for divers to produce powerful kicks with easy but energy-maximizing movements. Designed and produced with a tri-material construction and an advanced canalisation system, everything about this fin is engineered to optimize the energy you load and release with every kick. The revolutionary side ribs are the heart of the Phazer. The elastomeric rubber sections of the ribs work together with the wave-shaped structures, accumulating the energy of every kick that is released during the kick cycle. The effect is a solid, powerful yet easy kick, suitable for beginners as well as for expert divers. It is equipped with a new bungee strap and heel-pad for quick and easy donning and doffing. www.aqualung.com/uk

supporting divers

When the Fourth Element Xerotherm came out some 17 years ago, it revolutionised drysuit diving. Here was lightweight, fast-wicking, machine-washable base layer unlike anything else seen on the market – and now it has been given a makeover for 2018. And ladies rejoice, as there is now a women’s version! Like its predecessor, the new Xerotherm comprises of a longsleeved top and leggings, and is again made from Polartec Powerstretch, which was originally developed for NASA. It is designed to be worn on its own under a neoprene drysuit, or layered up under other undersuits with trilaminates. The top has flat seams and a long body to ensure no separation between the top and leggings, and there are thumb loops on the sleeves to keep them in place while donning a drysuit. The leggings have a high waistband for a good overlap with the top, and the unique foot pocket design ensure the leggings do not ride up. You can also get a Xerotherm sleeveless vest for £46.50, and Xerotherm socks for £19.90. www.fourthelement.com

Check pricing with local suppliers/centres in your area

supporting manufacturers


Gear Guide

THIS ISSUE: BUDGET REGULATORS

Each month, the SCUBA DIVER test team assembles to rate and review a selection of dive equipment from a range of manufacturers. Products are split into price categories and are then evaluated for performance, comfort, ease of use, build quality, looks and value for money. The Test Team comprises Editor in Chief Mark Evans and a squad of volunteers, whose dive experience ranges from a couple of hundred dives to well over 6,000.

BUDGET REGULATORS This issue, we look at one of the most vital pieces of the modern divers’ kit bag - regulators, or more specifically, budget regs. Without a solid, reliable reg, you aren’t going anywhere underwater. A large array of manufacturers produce regulators, and our aim here at Scuba Diver is to give you the widest selection in each review. Alas, the budget bracket is a little slim on the ground due to major distribution changes with the likes of Oceanic, Hollis, and Sherwood Scuba.

ON TEST THIS MONTH: • APEKS ATX40 • MARES PRESTIGE 15X • SCUBAPRO MK11/C370 Location: Tested at Vivian

Dive Centre, Llanberis

www.viviandivecentre.com

Date tested: 15/2/18 Water temp: 6 degrees C

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APEKS ATX40 Blackburn-based Apeks Marine Equipment has been around for over 40 years, and since that time the company’s regulators have found a special place in the heart’s - and kit bags - of many British divers. The ATX40 has been around for seemingly eons, and is perhaps best described as the ‘Land Rover Defender of regs’, utilitarian in looks, but gets the job done. It has everything you could want in a cold-water regulator environmentally sealed over-balanced first stage, large purge button, chunky venturi lever, four low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports. There is no getting away from the fact that the ATX40 is looking a little dated these days, and aesthetics are becoming increasingly important, a fact Apeks have recognised when you look at the MTX-R and XTX200, for instance, which are serious lookers as well as top performers. That said, it is still a solid little regulator, which breathes well even under duress, refused to freeflow even when pushed to extremes, and is equipped with a super-comfortable Comfo-Bite mouthpiece. The huge purge is efficient and easy to locate and operate even with thick gloves on, and the same applies to the venturi lever. This particular test unit was a little wet upside down, which is not the norm for Apeks, but still a great little reg. www.apeksdiving.com

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.1kg | HOSE: rubber | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: Looking rather dated, especially the second stage, against its rivals, but still a solid-performing regulator with a fine pedigree - and you can’t fault that price.

SCORE

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MARES PRESTIGE 15X Mares products have always had a sense of style as well as a sense of purpose, and the Prestige regulator continues that trend. The 15x first stage is extremely compact, yet still offers four low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports, while the second stage looks are simple yet effective, and strangely reminiscent of another high-end regulator brand. As with the majority of Mares regs, there is no venturi or cracking resistance control, instead it is equipped with Mares’ Vortex Assisted Design (VAD) technology, a nifty bit of engineering that allows for easy breathing at all depths. It is also the only reg in this price bracket to come with a super-flexible braided hose. The Prestige 15x is a cracking little regulator, which has some neat design features. The small first stage, while being dinky, has well planned ports, which are orientated for the ideal hose routing, and with the Superflex braided hose, there is minimum resistance when you are moving your head. The VAD technology in the second stage does the trick, and it provided a smooth breathe even when we put it through all manner of exercises. The technopolymer body of the second stage is extremely lightweight, and combined with the comfortable mouthpiece, there was little chance of jaw fatigue. Good regulator with some nice touches. www.mares.com

CHOICE

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 772g | HOSE: braided | VENTURI?: no VERDICT: Eye-catching regulator with some neat design flourishes that do aid the performance, all wrapped up in a lightweight package equipped with a braided hose.

SCORE

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Check pricing with local suppliers/centres in your area

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SCUBAPRO MK11/C370 Scubapro has been churning out high-quality dive gear for over 50 years, and the MK11/C370 certainly slots into the roll-call well. The tried-and-tested air-balanced diaphragm MK11 has a compact chrome-plated brass body and boasts four low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports. The C370 second stage body is made from fibreglass reinforced nylon and now features a balanced valve (a major change from the C350 predecessor) and new exhaust tee. It retains its good looks, though - when SubGear was still in existence, the earlier incarnation of this was their regulator for the next price bracket up. It is the only reg in this price segment to feature both a venturi lever and a cracking resistance control. The MK11/C350 was a nice little unit, with good looks matched to a decent performance, but the C370 has upped the ante, and the performance is now noticeably improved. Scubapro has managed to retain the high-end good looks of the second stage while providing an even-smoother breathe. It was nice and dry in all positions, coped admirably with whatever we threw at it, and the venturi - and in particular, the cracking resistance control - really did make a difference to the breathe. Nice large purge, comfy mouthpiece, neat first stage and awesome price point. www.scubapro.com

BEST VALUE

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.23g | HOSE: rubber | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: The MK11/C370 pairing at this price is excellent value for money, and with its flashy metal second-stage inserts, it looks to be worth far more than that price tag.

SCORE

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VERDICT

It was a real shame we didn’t have any regulators from Hollis, Oceanic or Sherwood Scuba, as without them, this particular price bracket ends up as being quite a small ‘group test’, but the three that we did get all put in a solid performance, and all of the test team said they would quite happily take any of these regulators diving as a primary reg. The Apeks ATX still represents a durable, robust product, and while it is never going to win any beauty pageants, it remains a great little regulator that comes in at an excellent price. The Scubapro MK11/C370 is a fabulous little unit, which breathes extremely well, has a wallet-friendly price, yet manages to look like it belongs in the next price bracket up. For this combination of looks and performance, it nabbed the Best Value award. The Mares Prestige was a bit of a revelation. It is quite subtle in its styling, with gloosy inserts in the second stage, but has enough flair to still capture your attention, and in the water it performed very well, and it manages to come in at a good price point to boot. This garnered it the Choice award. Check pricing with local suppliers/centres in your area

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Test Extra

MARES DRAGON SLS

Mark Evans: I have dived various Mares BCDs over the years, and the Dragon SLS has to be one of the most comfortable. This is, in part, down to the wide padded shoulder straps and the richly cushioned backpad, which help support and distribute the weight of the cylinder. The jacket-style BCD wraps around you so much, it almost gives you ‘a hug’, but this makes you feel very secure and stable in its embrace, and both on land and in the water, there is minimal tank movement. The ‘Dragon’ winglets nestle alongside the cylinder, making the whole unit very streamlined, but also providing space for the high-lift aircell to expand. The BCD is constructed from durable Cordura 420, which means it is not exactly lightweight - a Large weighs in at 4.5kg - but it feels very robust and able to cope with anything. There are five stainless steel D-rings for attaching accessories, and two zippered pockets, which are not huge (the space for the integrated weight pockets intrudes somewhat), but big enough for a back-up torch or a small spool. There are also metal grommets for fastening a BCD knife, and a nifty whistle integrated into the upper chest strap clip. The SLS integrated weight system is easy to use, and once installed properly, the pockets are very secure. The lock-in-place system is very efficient - once they are ‘home’, you get a green visual confirmation to show they are correctly in-situ. The big handles do stick out a bit from the front of the jacket, but on the flipside, are easy to grab hold of when you need to jettison the weight pockets. There are also two non-dumpable trim pockets cleverly hidden from sight under the Dragon winglets. The pull dump toggles are chunky and easy to locate and use even wearing thick gloves, and the dump valves are efficient, venting rapidly when necessary. A worthy addition to the Mares BCD range. It is available in sizes XS, S, M, L and XL. www.mares.com Check pricing with local suppliers/centres in your area

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Your diving memories deserve

the best home www.divelogs.com

Recreational, Instructor, and Technical Dive Logs Custom Dive Logs Log Book Stamps Gear ScubaTags Compact Lightweight Binders Custom Dive Slates Dive Maps Archiving Fish Identification Certification Card Holders


Long Term Test SUUNTO EON CORE Mark Evans: The EON Core is the ‘baby brother’ of the EON Steel, and shares the same vivid colour TFT screen, but where the control buttons on the Steel were mounted on the front in the metal body, here they are on the side of a composite frame. The Core runs Suunto’s proven Fused RGBM algorithm, and has air, nitrox, trimix, gauge and even CCR (fixed point) modes, meaning you will struggle to outgrow this unit. It has a rechargeable lithium -ion battery, which gives 10-20 hours per charge depending on usage, and it can connect to multiple PODS for air integration. www.suunto.com

APEKS XL4 NEW ARRIVAL

INFORMATION Arrival date: March 2018 Suggested retail price: * Number of dives: 2 Time in water: 1 hrs 35 mins

AQUASKETCH MINNO 1

Mark Evans: We all know that having a slate underwater is useful, and handy when you need to make note of something, or pass on a message to your buddy that requires more than hand signals, but sometimes carrying one can be a pain in the rear. That is where the Minno 1 excels, as it is just neatly sat on your wrist, and is out of the way until you need it. The chunky dials on the side for scrolling through the no-lessthan-ten-feet of writing sheet are easy to use even when INFORMATION wearing gloves, as is the Arrival date: February 2018 included pencil, meaning Suggested retail price: * this is not just for Number of dives: 2 warm-water divers. Time in water: 1 hrs 35 mins www.aquasketch.co.uk

Mark Evans: So far the XL4 has only been used in temperate water, either right here in the UK or in the seriously cold waters of Iceland, and it has been downright impressive in its performance, but I will soon be heading for assignments in Spain and Fiji, and that will enable me to tap into its secondary talent, that of being a lightweight travel regulator. Having a lighter unit for travelling is handy, but many people cannot justify having two regs - one for the UK, and one for abroad - so having a combo regulator that can cover both angles like the XL4 is a major bonus. www.apeksdiving.com/uk

INFORMATION Arrival date: October 2017 Suggested retail price: * Number of dives: 16 Time in water: 15 hrs 25 mins

SANTI DIVING FLEX 360 Mark Evans: The Flex 360 got its first real run-out for Long Term Test when I donned it for our annual regulator Group Tests. I deliberately do these in February, when the waters of Vivian Quarry are cold, but on the flipside it means it is decidedly on the chilly side for the test team. The perfect testing ground for the Flex 360! It is thinner and less bulky than my go-to undersuit, but I was pleasantly surprised at how warm it still is. Paired up with the X-Core, I was easily able to complete dives of a INFORMATION decent duration before I Arrival date: January 2018 felt the first signs of cold Suggested retail price: * creeping in. A good sign for Number of dives: 11 the coming season. Time in water: 10 hrs 10 mins www.santidiving.com

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FOURTH ELEMENT X-CORE Mark Evans: The X-Core is the perfect base-layer to keep your torso warm when diving, but it is so lightweight and comfortable that it has a multitude of other uses outside of the diving world. I have already drafted it into service for a few extremely cold, wintry dog walks, and it came in equally useful as a base layer under my cycling top when I went mountain biking in low single-digit temperatures. The X-Core kept me nice and warm while I was getting the bike off the back of the car and preparing to set off on the ride, but didn’t make me overheat once I started to build up my body heat as I made some serious climbs. I am sure it INFORMATION will also come in handy to Arrival date: November 2017 keep me toasty when I am Suggested retail price: * out on the RIB and the sun is Number of dives: 13 not coming out to play. Time in water: 12 hrs 15 mins www.fourthelement.com

SHEARWATER RESEARCH NERD 2

Mark Evans: The obvious candidates for purchasing a NERD 2 are underwater photographers, as it is just so handy having all of your essential dive data available with just a shift of your eyes - there is no glancing at your wrist, or fishing around for a console, while you are in the midst of stalking some rare subject matter, for example. However, I can also see regular divers seeing the benefits of having their dive data right INFORMATION in front of their eyes, it just Arrival date: December 2017 requires a brain shift from Suggested retail price: * the norm of computers being Number of dives: 4 wrist or console-mounted. Time in water: 3 hrs 25 mins www.shearwater.com

AQUA LUNG OUTLAW Mark Evans: As with the Apeks XL4, the Aqua Lung Outlaw has seen all of its testing dives so far conducted right here in the UK or on our long-weekend trip to Iceland. It has coped admirably with cold-water diving and all that that entails - drysuits, additional weight, etc - but it will be interesting to see the Outlaw in its natural environment, warmer waters where the diver is in a wetsuit, carrying less weight and able to really appreciate the stripped-back design of the BCD. I do like how INFORMATION it packs down to virtually Arrival date: February 2017 nothing, which will be useful Suggested retail price: * in the face of ever-decreasing Number of dives: 16 weight allowances! Time in water: 15 hrs 35 mins www.aqualung.com/uk

ANCHOR DIVE LIGHTS SERIES 3K Mark Evans: I will be very sad to see this END OF TERM dive torch head back to the manufacturer, as it has been a trusty companion on dives both in this country and abroad. In its handheld guise, it has a phenomenal beam and an awesome burn time, even on full power - it truly does bely the size of the unit just how bright and penetrating the light is. In UK conditions, it sliced through floating detritus with ease, yet was small enough to be almost forgettable on the back of your hand. Then there was the ability to INFORMATION turn it into an umbilical torch, Arrival date: July 2017 which was a handy feature Suggested retail price: * when you needed a longer Number of dives: 42 burn time or more power. Time in water: 41 hrs 25 mins www.anchordivelights.com * = check pricing with local suppliers/centres in your area

www.narkedat90.com


THE ZEN DIVER

Tom Peyton, Vice President of Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures, is called ‘the Zen Diver’ by his wife, and here he offers some hints on how to use diving to create the ultimate ‘chill-out zone’ www.familydivers.com

THE MEDITATIVE POWER OF DIVING PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF KIDS SEA CAMP/FAMILY DIVERS

O

ur small group of family divers slowly descends into the blue water of Belize. The moment we look down, we see three eagle rays gliding underneath us at 15m. A sense of joy erupts in my heart. A sense of awe returns to my body as it floats in zero gravity, and the thought ‘All is right in the world’ floods my mind. My busy mind of scrambled ideas of what to do next is gone. Stress from a long and ardent business meeting carried over from days before magically disappears. I am experiencing the power of being in the moment. My wife and I like to call it ‘Ocean Yoga’. Diving helps me return to my appreciation of the beauty of our remarkable world. That beauty that surrounds us in our everyday life, but we are just too busy to see, too busy to catch because we are struggling through traffic, or mindlessly surfing the web, or losing track of time watching TV as the political theatre spins around the globe. We as a society love distractions, and we generally don’t choose healthy, creativity or nurturing moments as habit. We love the struggle. You cannot become a good diver if you are addicted to struggle. The power of the ocean currents will simply wear you out, and physically use up your precious air. The fine art of diving is to reconnect to a primal calling to live life in a more peaceful and flowing pace. Diving is flowing, mindful and calming much like meditation or yoga. Diving is the practice of reconnecting to the higher parts of ourselves we have lost in the business of daily living. In ‘zen mode’ underwater

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Diver cruising serenely over the coral beds

I have, after 17 years in the dive travel business, noticed this calming effect with our clients. We have noticed the reconnection to family, to the ocean and to others in an organic way - this connection creates an ease on-island while both in and out of the water during our vacation weeks. We have noticed high-power CEOs, stressed parents or kids with ADHD become calmer and tranquil the more they dive during the week. Just for a reality check, it does take a few dives for the repose to settle in, but normally after a few days, they surrender to the transformational serenity of ‘Ocean Yoga’. I personally have noticed the meditative power of diving with my own family. My wife with over 5,500 dives during her 27 years of diving is much happier and softer in and around the ocean. Her very busy business mind slows down. Her ‘Let’s get everything done’ pace just doesn’t work on-island, the ocean won’t let her. Diving is meditative. Although active meditation, it is still effective in bringing wholeness and connection to oneself. Numerous studies have shown people who meditate on a daily basis have lower blood pressure, handle stress better, sleep deeper and tend to be less reactive to their outside conditions. If you have ever meet a true island Divemaster, you will know exactly what I mean. Diving returns to this natural flow, one giant stride, one inhale and one exhale at a time. It really is that simple. By paying attention to your breath and slowing your body down, we feel it after a dive. So take the plunge with the whole family and learn the power of diving one breath, one bubble at a time. n

WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


An experience without equal “The diving and snorkelling at Wakatobi is outstanding, that’s well known. But also important is the excellent customer service of every staff member. Wakatobi can teach customer service to any industry or organization. You feel at home the first day, and it just gets better every day after that.” ~Steve and Cindy Moore

www.wakatobi.com

Scuba Diver Asia Pacific April/May - Issue 1  

Dive travel from Wakatobi, New Zealand, Australia PLUS Technical, Freediving, Spearfishing, Underwater Photographer and Equipment Reviews.

Scuba Diver Asia Pacific April/May - Issue 1  

Dive travel from Wakatobi, New Zealand, Australia PLUS Technical, Freediving, Spearfishing, Underwater Photographer and Equipment Reviews.