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Maldives Stuart Philpott had an aim – to SHOOT BIG FISH and PRODIVERS delivered...




The Next Gen

ISSUE 26 | APR 19 | £3.25

‣ Solomon Islands ‣ What kind of diver are YOU? WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

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EDITOR’S NOTE THE SCOURGE OF PLASTIC POLLUTION It seems that there is a story regarding plastic in the oceans virtually every day in the mainstream media, which is no bad thing - well, it is, I wish there was no need for such stories to exist in the first place, but unfortunately that is not the case - as while we divers have been well aware of this global issue for many years, it took the venerable David Attenborough and multi-award-winning Blue Planet II documentary series to make it a matter of national (and international) importance. However, while I despair of tales of rescued seals with frisbees stuck round their necks, or turtles chewing on a plastic bag, I was truly appalled at the story from the end of March about the Cuvier’s beaked whale that washed ashore dead in the Philippines and was found to have a stomach crammed full of more than 40kg of plastic. 40kg! That is absolutely horrendous. My dive bag on a trip to Sudan in March weighed in at 26kg and that is some weight - and this whale’s stomach was full of nearly double that. It simply beggars belief. It is not all doom and gloom, though. On a more-positive note, week in, week out, we hear about fresh campaigns to tackle single-use plastics and reduce plastic pollution, in our workplaces and in our daily lives. In News this month we look at one of these - the Plastic Pollution Awareness and Actions Project - which has been set up to target, initially, the takeaway and restaurant industry. With some takeaways reporting using over 1,000 plastic containers a week, that is a phenomenal amount of plastic, and the charity is seeking cost-effective and convenient alternatives.

Mark Evans Editor-in-Chief


Mark Evans Tel: 0800 0 69 81 40 ext 700 Email:


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Maldives Stuart Philpott had an aim – to SHOOT BIG FISH and PRODIVERS delivered...




The Next Gen

ISSUE 26 | APR 19 | £3.25

‣ Solomon Islands ‣ What kind of diver are YOU? WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


p001_ScubaDiverApr19.indd 1

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10 News

24 Indonesia

A campaign to reduce plastic pollution, North Wales diving on TV, and a new tie-up between blue o two and Bite-Back.

32 Dive Like A Pro

Martin Sampson returns, this time asking what kind of diver you are, and discussing the risks sometimes taken by divers of all levels.

66 Underwater Photography

Fresh from the critter-heaven of the Lembeh Strait, Lena and Byron hopped on a flight to Sorong in West Papua to catch the luxurious Solitude Adventurer liveaboard and embark on an epic voyage through Misool and Raja Ampat.

36 The Maldives

Stuart Philpott was on a mission - to shoot big fish. The team at Prodivers in the Maldives were happy to oblige, and equipped with a powerful DPV and his wide-angle lens, he went on the hunt.

Martyn Guess looks at exposure, and how using manual controls can seriously improve your underwater photographs.

44 ABOVE 18m: Scotland

98 The Commercial Diver

48 Q&A: Chantelle Newman

Warren ‘Sal’ Salliss returns, and discusses what he and his team aim to do when someone joins them for commercial diving training.


Lawson Wood explores the blockship Dyle, and showcases why Scapa Flow is not just for experienced deep divers.

Chantelle Newman is a pioneering force in the world of dive medicine and diving safety, to such an extent that she was inducted into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame. She talks candidly about her future plans.






82 What’s New

Full-face masks hit the mainstream headlines when versions were used to bring out the Thai children in last year’s cave rescue operation. Luke Evans jumped at the chance to try one out for himself.

58 Egypt

Lawson Wood joins Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield for a photo workshop in the Deep South of Egypt on the Emperor Superior liveaboard.

72 DAN Europe: Epilepsy

Dr Louis van Heerden discusses epilepsy, and how this condition can affect scuba divers.

76 TECHNICAL: Solomon Islands

Neil Bennett rounds out his series of articles focusing on some of the deeper shipwrecks and wartime remnants in the Solomon Islands with an overview of the diving in the area, highlighting some of the morerecreational depth dive sites that can be explored alongside the deep technical locations.


We take a look at new products to market, including the Mares Genius dive computer, Beuchat Maxlux S mask, RoHo X-Flex Solo drysuit, and Fourth Element Rock Hopper booties.

84 Group Test

Editor-in-Chief Mark Evans and the Test Team head to Vivian Dive Centre in North Wales to focus on top-of-the-range regulators from a selection of major manufacturers.

94 Long Term Test

The Scuba Diver Test Team rate and review a selection of products over a six-month period, including the Shearwater Research Teric, BARE Ultrawarmth 7mm hood, Halcyon Infinity wing, and Mares Epic Adj 82X regulator.


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


PLASTIC POLLUTION Scuba divers in the southwest are joining forces to tackle single-use plastic and reduce pollution in our oceans


arine biologists Mae Dorricott – a previous OurWorld Underwater Scholar - and Libby Bowles, along with business owner Jose Blanco Rodriguez (aka Pepe), are part of the Plastic Pollution Awareness and Actions Project (PPAAP). The charity was set up by software engineer Naseem Talukdar to end single plastic use - starting in the takeaway and restaurant industry. And Mae is an ambassador for the charity – having worked with sea life around the world, she is calling for people to make small changes in their everyday life. She said: “It helps to be prepared, such as taking your re-usable coffee cup or shopping bag with you. People are generally recycling and using reusable bags, which is trickling into reusable coffee cups, but there is still much more to be done. I think it’s more realistic if we start small and make lasting changes. I personally still have areas to work on.” Mae, who also has a Masters in science communication


from UWE, said it is a global issue. She added plastic affects us all – whether we eat seafood or not. She said: “It’s in our beaches and in our seas. Plastic is made up of chemicals and it has an impact on us all. I think we all have our part to play in making this a better world to live in.”

EDUCATION Marine conservationist and teacher Libby Bowles heads Tread Lighter to educate children on ways to protect our seas. Libby, who has spoken to more than 10,000 schoolchildren, said: “Even if you don’t feel a personal connection with the ocean, we need to keep the sea healthy because it provides us with more than half of the oxygen we breathe.” Libby made a bamboo bicycle to cycle around the world and raise awareness about plastic pollution, and she has also worked for five years with leading marine scientists in conservation.




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She said: “I have seen the plastic-filled stomachs of dead turtles and sea birds, as well as creatures still ‘wearing’ man-made debris. It’s heart-breaking to see. But I believe education is the most-important tool to change the world. Children don’t need to wait to become adults to make lasting, meaningful change in their communities.”


RESTAURANTS Pepe is a keen director of Thali, which runs award-winning Indian restaurants and eco tiffin takeaway food. He said: “As a diver, I have seen the impact plastic has on our seas and it’s awful. It’s simply not sustainable to use plastic every day, but total eradication is not practical either. Our ethos is to reuse and recycle as much as possible.” He said home delivery platforms and restaurants could work together to find a better solution. The chain uses tiffins, a reusable lunchbox system, and has sold over 11,000 to date. They also recycle the majority of their waste, including food and plastics. Some takeaways report using over 1,000 containers a week and PPAAP is looking to reduce this nationwide. And now over 40 restaurant owners and managers have signed up to the charity’s pilot scheme to learn how to adapt to a plastic-free business. A ‘Curry and Conversation’ meet-up was held to look at cost-effective and convenient alternatives to plastic. Naseem, who also heads the charity Feed the Homeless, which provides homecooked meals, said: “I wanted to speak out and rally people round, from a range of fields, to tackle this pressing problem and find a long-term solution.”


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11 12:00 22.01.19

Keep your eye on the dive, not your dive computer.

NORTH WALES DIVING ON THE TV Last month, ITV headed to Vivian Dive Centre in Llanberis, Snowdonia, to film under the water in the picturesque inland dive site for the well-known TV programme Coast and Country. Presenter Andrew Price joined PADI Course Director Clare Dutton for his very first UK dive to explore the historic slate works. Clare said: “It was an absolute pleasure to be working with ITV to show the historic importance of the quarry. The site may be small, but is filled with reminders of the industrial slate mining era within the area, such as the blast house and discarded industrial material scattered throughout.” The ITV crew spent the day at the quarry, learning about the construction of the site and as qualified divers that were not used to cold-water diving, were trained in the use of drysuits by Clare, before being taken around the dive site to explore it for themselves. Clare continued: “I, like other divers, love the fact that diving allows us to visit areas lost in time. This is what I wanted to get across on the TV screen and encourage divers to visit the quarry and see these fascinating features for themselves. It is important to the area that the history is not lost and forgotten. This is the reason why I find Vivian so special as an inland dive site.” You can see the clip for yourself by going to ITV Wales and watching on catch up, or follow this link if you are outside of Wales.


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A juvenile humpback whale was discovered in less than two metres of water off the shore in Dunstaffnage Bay, Oban, on the morning of Thursday 28 February, but thankfully seemed to make its way back to deeper waters. The whale, which was estimated to be seven to nine metres long, was found at 8am between a pontoon and a Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) laboratory, facing in towards land in shallow water. Heidi Holland, British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Argyll and Bute Co-ordinator, was on-site within 15 minutes, and commented at the time: “BDMLR were called out to a live stranding of a sperm whale at the SAMS facility near Oban, but on arrival, it was found to be a juvenile humpback whale stranded in very shallow water. “In attendance were coastguard, RNLI, Police Scotland and the fire brigade, as well as representatives from the university and SSPCA. After assessment, the decision was made to observe and protect, as the whale was making efforts to turn itself and tide was incoming, and within a few hours, it had done a 90 degree turn and swam out towards deeper water. “The police, coastguard, SAMS staff and fire brigade all did an amazing job supporting us and working together. She continued: “A drone was deployed to check the whale’s condition and to see if there were any entanglement issues, which thankfully all came back as being well. I am pleased to report the whale has been observed swimming out to deep water after some period of re-orientation and rest, and there have been no further reports or sightings.”



SUUNTO D5 The new Suunto D5 is designed to be so clear and easy-to-use that you can just enjoy and focus on exploring the wonderful underwater world. Play with style by changing the strap to match your looks. After diving, connect wirelessly to the Suunto app to re-live and share your adventures with friends.

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NDAC HOSTS ACTION-PACKED REBREATHER REUNION WEEKEND The Rebreather Reunion is a twoday social gathering for like-minded divers from all backgrounds and levels of diving experience taking place on 27-28 April. Join the team at NDAC (National Diving and Activity Centre) for a weekend of diving and socialising as well as live talks and presentations from guest speakers including Phil Short, Mark Powell and Dave Gration. On the Saturday evening there will be a selection of delicious meals, and live music from the Cherry Rebels, in the Water View Marquee. Tickets are £65 per person and include access to the National Diving and Activity Centre for diving, presentations and events throughout the weekend. To purchase your tickets, pop into the NDAC shop or phone the administration office during normal opening times (01291 630046). WIGWAM ACCOMMODATION Wigwam accommodation is available at the National Diving and Activity Centre. There are three grades of Wigwam to suit all budgets: • VIP Wooden Cabin and Hot Tub (over 18s only) • Deluxe Wooden Cabin (over 18s only) • Standard Wooden Cabin Wigwams are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Book on the NDAC website:



Philippine police have seized more than 1,500 live turtles and tortoises – valued at more than £60,000 in the illegal wildlife trafficking market – found wrapped in duct tape at Manila airport. The reptiles were discovered in four unclaimed pieces of luggage, and police believe the bags were abandoned after the carrier – a Filipino passenger who was onboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Hong Kong – found out about the harsh penalties for illegal wildlife trafficking, which can be two years in jail and a fine of up to 200,000 pesos. A total of 1,529 turtles and tortoises of different species were found in the luggage in the arrivals area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport on 3 March. Some of the animals were of the Sulcata tortoise species, which are recognised as vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. The red-eared slider turtle was also among the reptiles found. The animals have now been handed over to the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit. Turtles and tortoises are often kept as exotic pets, but are sometimes also used as a form of traditional medicine, or served as a delicacy, across parts of Asia. Their meat is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac, while the bones are powdered for use in medicine. Only the week before, 3,300 pig-nosed turtles were smuggled into Malaysia by boat, though this attempt was intercepted by Malaysia’s maritime agency.



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A group of Dutch divers, diving companies and the campaigning Plastic Soup Foundation are introducing a new hand signal for divers – the ‘P’ for ‘Plastic’. Every year, thousands of marine animals get caught in plastic or mistake plastic for food and die out of starvation. This plastic soup is also causing coral reefs to get sick because plastic works as a magnet, attracting toxins. It’s a disaster for underwater life and a threat to what we love doing - diving! But now plastic in our oceans has never been more high-profile. As we know, divers use underwater hand signals for communication, but while there are signals for most marine species, there is not yet one for the largest polluter in our ocean – plastic. If nothing changes, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. As a diver, you are constantly confronted with the ongoing decay and damaged state of the sea and the coral reefs. This is why a group of diving companies and divers, together with the Plastic Soup Foundation, have introduced a new hand signal – the ‘P’ for ‘Plastic’. This signal can be used by divers underwater to let their buddies know that they see plastic and they want to pick it up. The goal of this hand signal is to encourage as many divers around the world to spread awareness and take action against the plastic plague that our ocean is facing right now.


Get in touch with the SAA We would love to hear from you! T: 0151 287 1001 E:


Currently under construction and ready to launch in July 2020, Emperor Harmoni is Emperor Divers Indonesia’s brand-new liveaboard, the second for Emperor Indonesia, and one of only a select few liveaboards in this region to have two engines – and at 48 metres, she happily welcomes 20 guests in spacious surroundings. Emperor Harmoni has been designed and built taking into consideration Indonesia’s unique and diverse conditions; harnessing the Emperor Indonesia team’s extensive experience in liveaboard and charter vessels to meet the very highest standards and expectations. Built of Sulawesi ironwood and offering a truly new experience to liveaboard holidays, experience a true sense of sailing the Indonesian seas in freedom, style, comfort and confidence with her two engines. Itineraries include Komodo, Raja Ampat and Banda Sea. Emperor Harmoni’s three decks have six guest cabins on the lower deck and four on the upper. The main deck features a spacious restaurant, lounge area with a 49-inch HD flat screen, digital movie and music library, board games, bar and a camera suite. Enjoy spacious diving and relaxation areas or relax with a massage on deck; whatever your choice, she’s sure to bring harmony and joy. All diving is done from two large RIBs with outboards to get you to the perfect dive spot every time. She offers free nitrox, all diving and safety equipment, including SMBs, free of charge, and up to four dive guides.


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RED SEA ‘DIVE AND YOGA’ TRIP WITH DIVERSE TRAVEL Join Jodie Roberts on board Emperor Elite this September as they dive the Southern Red Sea with the added appeal of yoga. This trip (14-21 September 2019) is for everyone - divers and non-divers alike. You don’t have to be fit to join in the yoga, Jodie caters to men and women, old and young. All teaching is done in a safe and encouraging way tailored to suit you. The ancient art of yoga has long been known for its health benefits from controlled breathing to relaxation; skills that will enrich the diving experience. Whether you already practice yoga or are keen to try, then this exclusive trip is perfect for you. The trip includes return economy-class flights from London to Hurghada, 23kg baggage, seven nights in shared cabin, three meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner, six days’ diving, guide, 12-litre tank and weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees, one complimentary yoga session (there are two yoga sessions a day), free nitrox, day room at the Elysees Hotel Hurghada including lunch, return airport transfers and, of course, full ATOL protection.

DIVERS ALERT NETWORK ANNOUNCES US$10,000 DIVE RESEARCH GRANT Divers Alert Network (DAN) is now accepting applications for the 2019 DAN/R.W. ‘Bill’ Hamilton Dive Medicine Research Grant. The year-long, US$10,000 grant supports new or ongoing research projects in one or more of the following areas: • Development of decompression procedure techniques for commercial, military, technical and/or recreational divers • Development of new decompression models • Probability of risk or probabilistic modelling • Multi-gas dive simulation • Dive computer procedures, protocols and testing • Treatment of incomplete decompression and resulting incidents “Decompression safety was Bill Hamilton’s life’s work,” said Petar Denoble, DAN Vice President of Mission. “We established this grant to carry on his legacy and to support the next generation of researchers studying diving physiology and advanced decompression procedures. We’re excited to help fund and promote research that builds on Bill’s work and that can ultimately help save lives.” DAN established the research grant in honor of Dr R.W. ‘Bill’ Hamilton, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 81. Hamilton, nicknamed The Prince of Gases, conducted research on dive physiology and the treatment of injured divers. He authored numerous papers, reports and workshop proceedings. He is perhaps best known for co-developing the Diving Computational Analysis Program (DCAP), a computer program that analyses and develops decompression procedures and schedules for a wide variety of exposures to pressure. Applicants can be involved in any aspect of dive-related sciences, but the spirit of the programme is to support projects closely related to Dr Hamilton’s studies. The grant is open to applicants at any stage of their professional education or career, and recipients are required to present their results to DAN. To apply for the R.W. Hamilton Memorial Dive Research Grant, email Frauke Tillmans at: The deadline for applications is 24 April 2019. The grant recipient will be notified by 15 May 2019.


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MEDICAL Q&A Dr Oliver Firth is a diving doctor with over 22 years of diving experience. He is an Approved Medical Examiner of Divers for the UK HSE and a medical referee for the UK Diving Medical Committee, performing many hundreds of diving medicals a year. As the senior doctor at London Diving Chamber for the last 13 years, he has supervised the treatment of hundreds of cases of decompression illness. He has now set up Hyperdive ( to continue his diving medical work. With his accumulated experience, he has seen most things a diver might come across, but remains eager to hear from anyone with a medical conundrum they need a solution to - keep those queries coming! Q: I’ve got a question about earplugs and diving. I’ve heard that they can help stop infections and make equalising easier, but when I mentioned this to a friend who is a GP, she thought it sounded like a bad idea. What’s your view? A: Earplugs and pressure don’t mix well in my opinion. The idea of vented earplugs is that a narrow passage through the plug allows air to move in and out, while stopping water entering the ear canal. In theory this reduces the risk of ear infections, and makes equalising easier. Anecdotal evidence from divers seems to support these assertions, but there are potential problems. If the vent becomes blocked with wax or other debris, you suddenly have a closed-off air space which could lead to barotrauma. If this occurs on a dive, the manufacturers recommend you take the plug out, but the sudden influx of cold water if you do this could then lead to vertigo, nausea and vomiting. I’d suggest it’s probably best to get to the root of the ear problem and sort that out. Q: As part of an investigation into abnormal levels of iron in my liver, my consultant wishes to perform a liver biopsy. This involves a 1 in 1,000 risk of a punctured lung. I am a very active diver and would therefore not like to jeopardise this. What advice would you give? Does an ‘accidentally’ punctured lung heal? Thank you. A: As a kid, I remember games of Risk that went on for days over Christmas. I realise now that it was a tactic to keep the aunts and uncles from each other throats while they deployed their armies and biscuit crumbs across the globe. But dealing with medical


risk is an altogether-more-interesting concept. What does ‘1 in 1,000’ mean to you? If I told you that the chance of needing emergency treatment in the next year after being injured by a bed mattress or pillow is 1 in 2,000, would that make you more or less likely to take this 1 in 1,000 risk? Oodles of stuff has been written about ‘risk perception’ – how an individual understands and judges risk (and how that influences behaviour). People are much more willing to accept voluntary risks (such as driving a car, where the lifetime risk of dying in a crash is 1 in 100) than risks where they have no control. The risk of lung cancer from a-pack-a-day smoking habit is about 1 in 125 over a lifetime; for skin cancer from sun exposure it’s a staggering 1 in 3 (although most are non-fatal). 1 in 1,000 is about the same probability as a 4-4 draw in a football match. According to the HSE, the average annual risk of death from scuba diving is 1 in 200,000 dives. Pretty safe really. Ultimately then, each individual has their own perception of risk, which is shaped by their personality, previous experiences and probably hundreds of other factors yet to be determined. On this aspect it’s therefore difficult to give black and white answers. The bottom line with a punctured lung in this scenario is that the cause of the lung injury is known (in this case, an errant biopsy needle). So there is no reason to suspect that the underlying lung tissue is more susceptible to barotrauma or another puncture. Most of these injuries heal up and all that is required is some confirmation that the repair is complete, usually a CT scan and some lung function tests. Word of advice - take care in the bath. There’s a 1 in 685,000 chance you’ll drown in it before 2020...


My Adventure

Diving & cruising liveaboards around Eastern Indonesia Each of our excursions are uniquely customised to suit the needs of adventurous divers

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Amaya Explorer Liveaboard 16 guests

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Hammerhead schools in Banda (Sept–Nov) • Leatherback turtles in Kei (Nov) Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park (May–Sept) • Wonderful Raja Ampat & Misool (Nov–May)

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MEDICAL Q&A Dr Oliver Firth is a diving doctor with over 22 years of diving experience. He is an Approved Medical Examiner of Divers for the UK HSE and a medical referee for the UK Diving Medical Committee, performing many hundreds of diving medicals a year. As the senior doctor at London Diving Chamber for the last 13 years, he has supervised the treatment of hundreds of cases of decompression illness. He has now set up Hyperdive ( to continue his diving medical work. With his accumulated experience, he has seen most things a diver might come across, but remains eager to hear from anyone with a medical conundrum they need a solution to - keep those queries coming! Q: I’ve got a question about earplugs and diving. I’ve heard that they can help stop infections and make equalising easier, but when I mentioned this to a friend who is a GP, she thought it sounded like a bad idea. What’s your view? A: Earplugs and pressure don’t mix well in my opinion. The idea of vented earplugs is that a narrow passage through the plug allows air to move in and out, while stopping water entering the ear canal. In theory this reduces the risk of ear infections, and makes equalising easier. Anecdotal evidence from divers seems to support these assertions, but there are potential problems. If the vent becomes blocked with wax or other debris, you suddenly have a closed-off air space which could lead to barotrauma. If this occurs on a dive, the manufacturers recommend you take the plug out, but the sudden influx of cold water if you do this could then lead to vertigo, nausea and vomiting. I’d suggest it’s probably best to get to the root of the ear problem and sort that out. Q: As part of an investigation into abnormal levels of iron in my liver, my consultant wishes to perform a liver biopsy. This involves a 1 in 1,000 risk of a punctured lung. I am a very active diver and would therefore not like to jeopardise this. What advice would you give? Does an ‘accidentally’ punctured lung heal? Thank you. A: As a kid, I remember games of Risk that went on for days over Christmas. I realise now that it was a tactic to keep the aunts and uncles from each other throats while they deployed their armies and biscuit crumbs across the globe. But dealing with medical


risk is an altogether-more-interesting concept. What does ‘1 in 1,000’ mean to you? If I told you that the chance of needing emergency treatment in the next year after being injured by a bed mattress or pillow is 1 in 2,000, would that make you more or less likely to take this 1 in 1,000 risk? Oodles of stuff has been written about ‘risk perception’ – how an individual understands and judges risk (and how that influences behaviour). People are much more willing to accept voluntary risks (such as driving a car, where the lifetime risk of dying in a crash is 1 in 100) than risks where they have no control. The risk of lung cancer from a-pack-a-day smoking habit is about 1 in 125 over a lifetime; for skin cancer from sun exposure it’s a staggering 1 in 3 (although most are non-fatal). 1 in 1,000 is about the same probability as a 4-4 draw in a football match. According to the HSE, the average annual risk of death from scuba diving is 1 in 200,000 dives. Pretty safe really. Ultimately then, each individual has their own perception of risk, which is shaped by their personality, previous experiences and probably hundreds of other factors yet to be determined. On this aspect it’s therefore difficult to give black and white answers. The bottom line with a punctured lung in this scenario is that the cause of the lung injury is known (in this case, an errant biopsy needle). So there is no reason to suspect that the underlying lung tissue is more susceptible to barotrauma or another puncture. Most of these injuries heal up and all that is required is some confirmation that the repair is complete, usually a CT scan and some lung function tests. Word of advice - take care in the bath. There’s a 1 in 685,000 chance you’ll drown in it before 2020...


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The Scuba Diver team accompanies the lucky winners of our epic family dive-and-adventure trip to the wonders of Jordan






Marine conservation charity Bite-Back celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2019, and founder Graham Buckingham discusses its achievements and aims Andy Torbet and Gemma Smith were the stars of the mesmerising Dive Odyssey diving short, and here they explain what it was like to be involved


Lawson Wood continues his exploration of Scapa Flow’s shallower, but no less interesting, dive sites Christian Skauge is enthralled by the marine life - large and small - that lies in the warm waters surrounding Gran Canaria The Test Team heads to North Wales to rate and review dive torches, specifically those units designed as your primary means of illumination.


After a week of fantastic critter-spotting in Lembeh, Byron Conroy and Lena Kavender head off on the luxurious Solitude Adventurer for an epic liveaboard trip taking in Misool and Raja Ampat PHOTOGRAPHS BY BYRON CONROY



We spent the whole dive being literally surrounded by enormous shoals of fusiliers, yellow snapper, jacks, trevallys, sweetlips, barracudas, batfish and several large grouper


25 1 17/5/2018 14:27:43










fter a week in Lembeh, we caught a flight from Manado to Sorong in West Papua. After spending all my time peering through a macro lens, it was time for big stuff and pristine reefs in Misool and Raja Ampat. Rated as the most-biodiverse marine environment in the world, hidden under the most stunning of landscapes, it should be on everyone’s bucket list.


From Sorong we boarded the most-impressive liveaboard I’ve ever seen. The Solitude Adventurer ( is a 36-metre aluminium catamaran built in 2000 and fully renovated in 2017. It was originally built as a private yacht, which can be seen in the many luxurious features this vessel has to offer. I have been on a number of liveaboards both in Raja Ampat and elsewhere, but none of them can compare to the Adventurer. Lena and I met up with the rest of the group in the spacious indoor lounge featuring several tables, sofas, huge flat-screen TV, library and even a free massage chair. Cruise director Diego gave a welcome briefing followed by a presentation on safety and dive procedures. Once the paperwork and induction was out of the way, we spent the next hour getting to know our new friends and exploring the ship. In addition to the great indoor lounge, we found no less than three outdoor relaxation areas on the bow of main deck, stern area at upper deck and a huge sun deck on the top. The eight ensuite cabins are all way more spacious than I have seen on other liveaboards, located on the upper floor with floor-to-ceiling windows. The state room is bigger than some people’s apartments and has even got an ensuite private sauna! Topside is just as stunning as underwater

Massive shoals were the trip highlights... were healthy reefs


For this trip, all guests had arrived early in the morning and so Diego decided that we had time to start diving on day number one. We did the checkout dive at a site with the catchy name Red Light District. Raja Ampat is known for its potentially strong and unpredictable currents, but this site was easy, shallow and protected. It was a nice, relaxed first dive of the trip still with plenty to see, such as blue-spotted lagoon rays, mantis peacock shrimps and a beautiful pair of the rarely seen copperband butterflyfish.


Overnight we steamed south to Misool and woke up the following morning to a day full of diving. Our daily routine was: Dive 1 followed by big breakfast (light breakfast for the hungry before the first dive), Dive 2 then lunch, Dive 3 followed by snack, and dusk or night dive followed by dinner and dessert. There was no shortage of either diving or food. We spent three days cruising around Misool and were lucky enough to dive some of the best sites the area had to offer. At Nudi Rock I experienced the most-fishy dive of my life. We spent the whole dive being literally surrounded by enormous shoals of fusiliers, yellow snapper, jacks, trevallys, sweetlips, barracudas, batfish and several large grouper. At the safety stop we were accompanied by two hawksbill turtles busy eating soft corals and sponges. The highlight of Misool was our dive at Shadow Reef. Diego mentioned in the briefing that mantas can be seen at the site, and the excitement immediately started to build up. He also mentioned that currents can be strong and recommended doing a negative entry from the zodiac. As the zodiac driver counted down – ‘3,2,1 go!’ - for our backward roll, I rolled in the water negatively buoyant and realised that I was descending right into an enormous manta ray. I quickly had to inflate my wing in order not to literally crash land on top of the manta. What an awesome start to the dive! The rest of the dive went on with the same level of excitement as we saw no less than four huge mantas including a black one. Lots of batfish, snapper and other reef fish were also joining in. All in all, a fantastic dive that I will not soon forget. Anemonefish

Huge corals were commonplace

In Misool we also got to dive the photogenic Boo Window’s and the Farondi Cave. Both offer phenomenal silhouette photo opportunities with a diver sitting in the window of the cave opening. Farondi Cave is like a long tunnel starting shallow at 5m, and goes down to 30m, where the divers come out and can follow a wall back to shallower depths. On this one dive we spotted at least 15 Bargabanti pygmy seahorse - Misool really is a pygmy seahorse haven.


On day 4 we steamed towards Raja Ampat, diving our way up north. In the afternoon the friendly crew of the Adventurer took us to one of the most-iconic places in Raja Ampat, the incredibly photogenic Piaenemo viewpoint. After climbing the many stairs to the top of the mountain, the reward is priceless - dozens of perfectly shaped green islands sticking up from the mirror-like turquoise ocean. It is hard to think of anything more beautiful and peaceful than this place, and



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After climbing the many stairs to the top of the mountain, the reward is priceless - dozens of perfectly shaped green islands sticking up from the mirror-like turquoise ocean

Gigantic seafan dwarfs the diver

is a sight I wish all people would get to experience during their lifetime. Later on we also got to visit one of the local inhabited islands. The crew of Solitude Adventurer visits one of the islands every week providing gifts for the children as a way to give back to the local community. This week, the zodiac was loaded with children’s backpacks, pens, shoes, clothes and toys. The children and adults alike greeted us with big smiles and welcoming faces. You can truly feel how much they appreciate the gifts and it also seems like they really enjoyed our visit. The island’s mayor took us on a walk around the small island containing maybe 100 houses, a church and a tiny shop. Raja Ampat offers just as good, if not even better, diving than Misool. The area offers a great variety of dive sites such as mangroves, walls, bommies, slopes and jetties. We had the pleasure of completing two dives at Cape Kri. This site is known for having the most-biodiversity ever recorded on a dive site, and I have to say that it definitely lives up to its reputation. Here we were diving with a shoal of over 100 ribbon sweetlips that let us take photographs from every angle without moving an inch. Above groups of barracuda and jacks circled us. At the same time we spotted a huge bumphead parrotfish and a giant grouper. Oh, I forgot to mention the blacktip reef sharks cruising by. It is almost too much to handle and the adrenalin levels were sky high.

Macro critters were everywhere Shoal of barracuda

Time to dive!


On the last night, the chef and the kitchen team arranged a wonderful BBQ up on the top deck under the stars. The crew were singing some local Indonesian songs and some proved to be quite skilled with the guitar. What a great way to finish a fantastic trip and to reflect upon the week together with the other guests aboard before heading back to Sorong and reality. n


Experienced diving educator Martin Sampson takes a look at the different ‘kinds’ of diving enthusiast, and asks ‘what kind of diver are YOU’? PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS


ivers take risks. That’s a sweeping statement, I grant you, and I’m guessing that quite a few of you are thinking: “I don’t, I’m a safe diver”. In essence though, we’re trusting some clever technology and deliberately immersing ourselves in a cold fluid we can’t breathe. A substantial number of land lubbers out there regard us with a mixture of awe and envy, not to mention complete derision because they think we’re as mad as a box of prawns. The rest of us, booted and rubber-suited, think we’re normal. Of course, there is potential for harm and injury, but we all intend to go diving safely, don’t we? It’s just that sometimes, at the dive site, this doesn’t happen. In 1986 I dived with one of the first decompression computers. It was called ‘The Edge’. At that time there were only three computers on the market. The Edge and the Decobrain both cost around £600. The third was the Dive Dynamics ‘Aladin’ computer, that was about £250. A popular misconception about dive computers at that time was that you could do any type of dive profile, including ‘saw tooth’ profiles involving multiple ascents and descents. After a few cases of decompression illness proved that wrong, the popular phrase ‘ee was bent on an Aladin!’ was coined. Suspicion fell on the reliability of the Aladin. But the Aladin computer was outselling the other two units because it was over £300 cheaper. If you had decompression illness while using a dive computer, it was much more likely that it would be with an Aladin on your wrist. It took a little longer for the diving community to appreciate that thousands of dives were being conducted with greater levels of safety because, for the first time, we had a reliable way of monitoring our ascent rate. Fast forward 30 years to 2016. Some of the fatalities that happened in 2016 using rebreathers involved some pretty elementary errors. For example, failing to change a scrubber canister in good time, or failing to go through a pre-dive check list and then discovering a major fault in the worst possible



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way. The use of rebreathers is a rapidly emerging aspect of diving, but the potential risks inherent in the use of rebreathers themselves, say carbon dioxide toxicity, are not specific to any one type of unit any more than DCI is linked to any one dive computer. In the last 30-odd years, quality in design, engineering, materials, and ergonomics have all improved. But no matter what piece of kit you choose, it is likely to have a limitation of some sort. It may be one of design – perhaps a lightweight regulator that is designed with travel to warm waters in mind rather than the Arctic Ocean. This is where training and information come into play. Good-quality instruction will help you become aware, not just of the limitations of the gear, but also your own limitations. No matter how good the training is, your ability to retain it decreases dramatically without continued practice. Are you the sort of diver who thinks: “I haven’t been underwater for four months, I think I’ll book a refresher course?” Over the last 30-odd years, time pressure has also changed, but not for the better. We tend to lead busier lives, made all the more-immediate by 24/7 communications and social networking. Many divers get through the daily stress of Monday to Friday by promising themselves a weekend’s diving. A late Friday night fuelled by high expectations (among other things) is followed by an early start on Saturday and a 200-mile drive to the coast.



The possible outcomes are varied, but could include: • Getting a speeding ticket on the way to the dive site because you over-slept. • Not diving at all because you left your regulator hanging in the shed. • Not being able to get buoyancy control right because you couldn’t relax. • Passing all responsibility for navigation and planning over to your buddy or instructor because you’re too tired to think about it. • Having a problem with a piece of kit because you forgot to check it. • Diving with that faulty kit because ‘Hey, I’ve been looking forward to this dive all week’. • Being cold, dehydrated, or simply too tired to do a second dive.


Completing an uncomfortable dive without major incident and accepting that you survived therefore you must have enjoyed it because everyone else did. Realising that actually, today of all days, I just don’t feel up to it so I’m not going to dive. That last outcome could only have been bettered by realising on the Friday night that what you needed most was 12 hours sleep and a lie-in on Saturday morning. Perhaps one day of relaxed diving on the Sunday would have been better than trying to cram in two days of diving. Diving and other adventure sports are popular because when they are properly planned and conducted you have to focus in order to achieve your goals. While focusing on those you become free of Monday-to-Friday stresses. From the car sticker school of psychology: ‘Leave it all above you – go scuba diving’. At some point in your training you were almost certainly told to abort the dive if you are not happy. It would be even better to develop the self-awareness and sheer nerve to be able to say to your buddy: “I’m sorry, I’m just not up for this today”. If your buddy can’t handle that, find a different one. We’re entering an exciting era with modern rebreathers that have some very clever fail-safes built in. All they need to work is a relaxed, switched-on, focused user. That could be you! Stay safe. n






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rodivers instructor Mohamed Shameen Ali said: “Diving in the Maldives is all about the currents”, and after experiencing Fushivaru Kandu at full flood, I wholeheartedly agree. Marine life activity is focused around the channel entrances, where the water flow is strongest. When the current subsides, showtime is over - but only until the next tidal change. I was gunning for big fish shots, particularly eagle rays. But to fill the frame of my trusty 16mm fisheye lens, they needed to be close - meaning less than an outstretched arm’s distance away. Eagle rays are not the easiest marine creatures to photograph. Usually found at the channel entrances in squadrons of up to 20, they are very sensitive to sounds and movement. When one member of the group gets agitated and bolts, they all bolt. Sometimes the largest, most-dominant eagle ray will hang back and, if approached cautiously, there may be an opportunity to get close. My chances of keeping up with an eagle ray in full flight using fin power alone were pretty slim, so to give ourselves a fighting chance, Mohamed Shameen Ali (Mosti) had equipped us with Apollo AV-2 DPVs, aka scooters. If scooters had a distinct purpose in life, then the Maldives has to be the perfect venue. With a top speed of 2.5mph, it was far easier to manouvere in and out of the currents. Prodivers (www. offer scooter rental at all of their resort dive centres. Visiting divers need to complete a basic two-dive course before they can hire them out, or hold the appropriate PADI Specialty cert. The scooters really did make a difference. Without them I would have had far less photo opportunities and my air consumption way higher due to the extra exertion. There are two ways to drive an Apollo AV-2, either held out in front or sat on like a saddle. Most divers prefer the ‘hands-


free’ saddle option. Adding a camera to the mix made my job slightly more interesting. Fiddling with the threespeed throttle lever and lining up for a shot at the same time took a while to master. If the turtle wasn’t moving very fast or the shoal of snapper looked relaxed, I would hand over my scooter to Mosti so I could move around more freely. Prodivers were also happy to loan me a rental AP Valves Inspiration rebreather, but having to think about picture compositions, scooter controls and keep an eye on rebreather settings was just too much task loading for my poor brain to handle. I much preferred to keep things simple! Another Prodivers instructor, Sina Leupi, had drawn the short straw and agreed to model for my pictures. The grand plan was to get as close as possible to every marine creature we encountered. Fortunately for me, Sina from Switzerland turned out to be absolutely perfect for the job.


Maldivian SHOWTIME Stuart Philpott was on a mission to get shots of big fish and other pelagic species, and the team at Prodivers in the Maldives were more than happy to step up to the challenge and deliver encounter after encounter PHOTOGRAPHS BY STUART PHILPOTT



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Large marbled ray

Whether we were taking pictures of eagle rays, turtles or bumphead parrotfish, Sina was in the thick of it, wide-eyed and perfectly poised. Beforehand I sat down with Mosti and Sina to work out an itinerary. The channel crossings were definitely ‘action city’. Strong currents attracted predatory reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, Napoleon wrasse, shoals of jacks, barracuda as well as other passing pelagic species. Fushivaru Kandu was probably my best bet for eagle ray encounters, but this depended on the time of year. When the currents changed around Fushivaru it is not the preferred crossing, and divers usually choose Kuredu Express instead. For turtle sightings it has to be Caves off neighbouring Kuredu, and there’s always hundreds of anemones at Anemone Thila, and so on and so on, until we had sorted out several days worth of exciting dive sites. I saw plenty of reef sharks throughout but couldn’t quite get close enough for a good enough shot. Usually Prodivers offer a two-tank morning dive (returning to the resort around lunchtime), one dive in the afternoon and night dives. There are also daily guided snorkelling trips. I had based myself at the recently opened five-star Hurawalhi resort located five to ten minute’s boat ride from the third-most-popular resort in the whole Maldives, Kuredu. I could tell Hurawalhi was sheer class from the Friendly turtle at Caves

There is a huge variety of marine life on offer and that’s a combination of big and small creatures, both rich in colour and quantity very first moment I stepped foot onto the jetty. Covering an area of approximately 165 metres by 400 metres, this adult’s only island is not massive. A row of 60 ocean villas extended out over the shallow lagoon by another 400 metres, boosting accommodation to a total of 90 rooms. The ocean villas seemed to be favoured by the Chinese, and the beach villas European clientele. At present about 50 percent include infinity pools (by the end of the year, all of the beach villas will have private pools). I had chosen an ocean villa without pool. There was something deeply therapeutic about waking up to a sea view. When I wasn’t diving or dining, I would sit and watch the parrotfish cruising by below me. If I was feeling particularly energetic, I could always walk down my personal stairway to the water’s edge and go snorkelling. Maybe paradise does actually exist? Guests have a choice of no less than three restaurants and bars. The main attraction has to be 5.8 underwater


restaurant. With a seating plan for 30, this is one of the largest underwater restaurants in the world. Surrounded by a thriving reef, it’s the perfect venue for non-divers that want to experience the underwater world. There are three two-hour sittings each day offering either a five-course lunch or sevencourse dinner menu. I managed to book a lunchtime slot and was totally mesmerised by the display of colourful marine life. For once I didn’t have to sit and entertain my dinner date! The evening session is even more insane. The sea is in total darkness apart from the lights illuminating the surrounding reef. Giant trevally hunted among the shoals of fusiliers, while puffers and parrots munched on the corals. Over the course of my stay I managed to experience quite a few channel crossings. We would usually begin our dive at


one side of the channel, scooter along the wall into the high current areas and then at the later stages drift back inside onto the shallower pinnacles. Absolutely anything could happen, nothing was predictable. Underwater visibility easily topped 30 metres on the majority of my dives, so I could see way into the distance and plan my marine life confrontations. We encountered hawksbill turtles nibbling on the corals, stingrays cruising along the seabed and inquisitive Napoleon wrasse, which mainly stayed on the periphery. Nearer the epicentre I saw plenty of reef sharks, on some occasions more than 100, and at other times just a few swimming along beside me. Always schooling jacks, sometimes barracuda, and occasional shoals of batfish. Slightly deeper, beneath the wall, there were ledges and overhangs inhabited by grouper and swathed in giant sea fans. Eagle rays would mainly be found in the stronger current areas. Back inside the channels on the shallower pinnacles I would see large shoals of fusiliers, blue striped and humped-back snapper. Hurawalhi’s house reef called Aquarium turned out to be the biggest surprise. There were so many picture opportunities The view from the restaurant

Chunky frogfish


Bannerfish flypast

including bannerfish, shoals of blue-striped snapper and a football-sized bright red frogfish. A smaller yellow frogfish was supposedly hiding somewhere, but we couldn’t find it. Frogfish are known to be cannibalistic, so maybe big red froggie was now slightly bigger! There wasn’t too much current to contend with so I could take more time to compose a picture. Prodivers’ dive centre and shop is situated right on the beach, so for shore dives it’s just a short walk down to the sea. The dive boats ran from the main jetty, which is less than a minute’s walk away. All of the dive equipment is prepared and transferred to the boat by the guides. I just had to turn up and jump over the side! Sea turtles are often seen at the diving and snorkelling sites around Hurawalhi, but if divers want 100 percent guaranteed encounters, then Caves is the place to visit. More than 160 different turtles have been recorded at this dive site located off Kuredu, and it is mainly frequented by hawksbill and green turtles, with the odd olive ridley sighting from time to time. There are plenty of overhangs and shallow caves for the turtles to have a snooze or a sneaky shell scratch. We explored the wall, which basically starts at a depth of 5m and dropped to around 20m, checking out all of the darker recesses. We found three hawksbills and four green turtles in the space of an hour. I sat and watched one big female having a shell scratch for several minutes. She seemed totally unperturbed. I’m sure they were used to being hassled by divers and photographers. I had planned a dive on Kuredu’s shallow seagrass beds mainly for turtle shots but when we arrived on site, the wind had whipped up, turning the underwater visibility very milky. At a depth of around 3m, this is a popular spot for snorkellers. We tried stalking


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Strong currents attracted predatory reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, Napoleon wrasse, shoals of jacks, barracuda as well as other passing pelagic species

At last, a decent eagle ray shot!

a number of turtles but it was quite obvious I wasn’t going to get anything worthwhile so we decided to change tack and explore the house reef instead. I spotted an eagle ray with two smaller juveniles, but they shot off into the blue before I could raise my camera. Mosti said it was even more difficult to get close to the young ones. I could just about make out a dark shadow in the distance. This materialised into a small fishing boat wreck inclined at a 30-degree angle with the bow pointing up towards the surface. I noticed a large fish hovering close to the wreck. This turned out to be a massive one-and-a-half-metre plus bumphead parrotfish. I could see there was some heavy scarring all over the fish and a chunk missing from its tail fin. We initiated the usual attack plan and the parrotfish didn’t seem at all bothered by our advances. With Sina hovering slightly above and me angling from below, I managed to take around 15 extremely intimate pictures. Mosti said: “It’s very rare to get this close to a bumphead parrotfish”. We carried on along the reef wall stopping to take pictures of batfish and several green turtles, so all in all not a bad dive. After several failed attempts I was beginning to think that I was never going to get close enough to the eagle rays. I had tried approaching from below and to the side and then slowly veering in, but as usual when I got two to three metres away they would all scatter. I had managed to get a few group shots, but nothing overly spectacular. On my penultimate dive at Fushivaru Kandu, we spotted a gathering of five eagle rays and a shoal of around 100 barracuda. I had to make a quick decision so followed the eagle rays. I approached from below and as I got closer, the whole group scattered in all directions apart from the largest eagle ray, which didn’t seem to be too phased by my presence. Sina had automatically got into position behind, which gave me a crack at the perfect composition. We were speeding along side by side for more than a minute, the eagle ray no more than 50cm away from my dome port. I had no idea why it didn’t freak out. I took about six or seven pictures and on the last shutter click got the shot I wanted - it really wasn’t going to get much better than this! As a diving holiday destination, the Maldives rarely fails to deliver. There is a huge variety of marine life on offer and that’s a combination of big and small creatures, both rich in colour and


Stuart employed scooters with Mosti and Sina

quantity. From an underwater photographer’s perspective, as long as I took my time and approached slowly and calmly, I could always get close enough to fill my wide-angle lens. Okay, I admit the scooters had given me a helping hand! The channel crossings are guaranteed intense activity and this is complimented with the more-serene house reefs, Caves, Shipyard and Anemone Thila sites. When the diving had finished for the day, I settled down to an evening of sheer luxury. I couldn’t fault Hurawalhi’s food, accommodation or service, and even the weather turned out to be pretty much perfect. For once, I couldn’t find anything to complain about! n

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Scapa Flow’s blockships offer some fantastic shallow-water dive sites, but as Lawson Wood explains, one such site has long been known by the wrong name – the Dyle PHOTOGRAPHS BY LAWSON WOOD

SCAPA FLOW WHAT TO EXPECT DEPTH Expect to get around 12-17m (inside the lower section of the wreck and under the propeller. VISIBILITY AND TIDAL CONSIDERATIONS This area of the Burra Sound at the western entrance to Scapa. Flow has very strong currents into and out of the Flow, which can be punishing to say the


least. Dive boat skippers know the exact timing of slack water here before the incoming tide, as this is the only time that you can dive here. MARINE LIFE/WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR Pin cushion starfish (Porania pulvillus) are always found on the wreck as are millions of dwarf plumose anemones (Metridium

senile). Cuckoo wrasse, ballan wrasse, saithe and pollock are common, as are edible crabs, scallops and squat lobster. SEABED The seabed is mainly currentswept gravel and small stones and shell debris; ship’s wreckage is dotted around, covered with plenty of seaweed and kelp.

HAZARDS There is little to snag you or trap you on this wreck, but care, as always, should be your priority when exploring the interior. The current is the most-obvious thing to watch out for and the lion’s mane jellyfish, which are numerous in Scapa Flow in the summer. Their stinging tentacles tend to get trapped on the shotlines and marker buoys.



s the author of the Scapa Flow Dive Guide by Aquapress, the work never actually stops. After the book has been published, there are always new and exciting discoveries to be made. Now the 100th anniversary edition includes new and important information which has come to light by the extensive research of Kevin Heath, and through both of us painstakingly going through all of the archival photographs during World War One and World War Two and War Department records. Kevin, in particular, discovered in one instance, it would appear that back in 1914, when the Admiralty were sinking some of the first blockships in Burra Sound, they made a dreadful spelling error! This is not the first time that such mistakes have happened, as I found out doing my research on the book Shipwrecks of The Cayman Islands. What was once referred to as the Doyle, or Moyle, depending on what publication you are reading, records had the Doyle sunk in Burra Sound in 1940 during World War Two, however as the Dyle, she was actually sunk on 7 October 1914.


The Dyle was built as the Widdrington in Newcastle by A Leslie and Co. Engineers in 1879 for W. Johnson in Yard No.209. She was subsequently sold to Turner Brightman and Co. in 1886 and finally named the Dyle after she was sold to De Clerck and Van Helmeryk in 1902 and re-registered in Antwerp, Belgium. Eventually sold to a British shipbreakers in 1914, she was acquired by the Admiralty, towed to Orkney and sunk as a blockship. However, the Admiralty engineers seriously underestimated the strength and sudden change of the tidal stream and the unballasted Dyle floated off into Burra Sound before the explosive charges blew open her hull, where she sunk directly across the tidal race. She was deemed useless as a blockship, but from my humble opinion, she is now quite possibly the best dive in Scapa Flow. The Dyle is of iron construction with five bulkheads and a 177nhp two-cylinder engine and one propeller; she weighed 954 tons and was 79.25 metres long. Of the three most-intact blockships in Burra Sound (The Gobernador Boreis and the Tabarka being the other two), the Dyle is one of those perfect shipwrecks for all levels of diver.

Inside the Dyle The wreck is encrusted in marine growth

Divers exploring the Dyle

The ship is still robust enough to allow for full safe and easy access and the interior allows you to extend your dive into the time when the current starts to run once more



The current brings plentiful marine growth


Access to the wreck is entirely on the orders of the dive boat’s captain and everyone on board has to get geared up and ready to go as the tidal streams are predictably unpredictable and with slack water at only around 20-30 minutes, you really have to get into the water and down the shotline to gain entry into the wreck as quick as is safely possible. The Dyle is completely open in aspect and lies on her port side, well embedded in the gravel seabed, her four-blade propeller very distinctive and covered in miniature plumose anemones (Metridium senile). The wooden decks are long gone, but the iron ribs and deck beams have created excellent swim-throughs into the sub-interior, with easy access between the iron ribs. The ship is still robust enough to allow for full safe and easy access and the interior allows you to extend your dive into the time when the current starts to run once more. Hull plates have come away over the years and the light now streams in through a huge number of square holes making for a rather superb cathedral-like quality. Ballan wrasse, cuckoo wrasse and conger eels are found in the interior and huge schools of juvenile saithe and pollack swirl around the superstructure. The stern is also largely intact, topped with kelp and the huge blades of her single propeller are covered in anemones and small pincushion sea urchins. Once slack water passes and the relentless current starts pushing the kelp flat, divers are recommended to just drift away from the wreck (as you will only pull down the dive boat’s shotline). Divers should deploy a delayed surface marker buoy and the dive boat will follow your easy progress into Burra Sound and be there to collect you.

Diver lift makes exit a doddle

The Dyle has to be dived at slack water

This blockship dive is between 13-17m and perfect for all levels of diver and also to allow for safe and easy penetration. Spectacular in layout and covered in a multitude of marine life, this shipwreck meets all of most divers’ criteria for a superb dive and perfect to off-gas somewhat away from the much-deeper German High Seas Battle Fleet. n

Artist’s impresion of the blockships



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Chantelle Newman is passionate about diver safety, awareness, and education, to such an extent she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame for her work in this area. We chatted to her about what drives her, and what the future holds in store PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF CHANTELLE NEWMAN

Q: You were born in South Africa and completed your first diving certification when you were just a teenager. I recall hearing that you had a close encounter with a great white shark that day – tell us about it. A: I started my diving adventure at 12 years old in Cape Town, South Africa. I was a nervous diver and used to roll back into the water from the zodiac with my eyes closed. Only after hearing everyone in the water would I then open my eyes. As you know, South African waters are renowned for great whites, so there was every chance you could encounter one while diving. On one of my last dives before qualifying as a Junior Scuba Diver for NAUI, I had just that encounter. We descended to around 12m in crystal-clear water; we were on our way to dive with seals in Simons Bay and to do that you would have to swim through some kelp and open ocean. Just before the kelp forest out of the corner of my eye I saw something swimming next to me. It was a juvenile great white. I propelled myself as fast as I could to get into the kelp and hide. It was like being a naughty child hiding behind the curtains after been chased by your sibling. Was I scared? Of course not! Lol…

Q: You are passionate about diver safety, medicine, and education. How did this become such a driving force in your life? A: In the 1990s, I joined the ambulance service to become a paramedic, and pre-hospital emergency care was the way of life for me - always having the knowledge and skills to help someone very ill and try and take the best care of them before handing them over to the doctors at the hospital. That skill and passion never left when I moved to the UK in 1998. I didn’t know you could dive in the UK, so travelled to the Red Sea to go diving in 2007. After the trip, I found a dive centre and then went on to do my Divemaster training. I was also introduced to the BSAC annual reports and was horrified at how many people had died while diving, as well as how many DCS cases divers experienced, some of them resulting in death. I wondered why that when I did my Divemaster training, there was such a shortage of information on diving illnesses and injuries. That is when I sat on an IMCA Diver Medical Technician course and realised that recreational divers are more at risk of having a diving accident then commercial divers. I then went onto to design a Recreational Diver Medical Technician course and asked DAN Europe if they wanted to help me fill that gap and collaborate on creating a DAN DMT course - 2010 was the year I joined the DAN Europe Training Committee to do just that.


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Q: You run The Diver Medic and Code Blue Education, which operate in the UK and the USA, and not just within diving circles, you also cover more-mainstream areas. How did you develop these? A: Since 2000 I was already teaching first aid for companies around the UK, in 2006 I started at a nursing agency as the general manager and saw the need for training nurses for their annual mandatory training. From there I just grew the education side of the business to now run ambulance courses like the First Response Emergency Care course level 3 and 4. I also still teach IMCA DMT courses and have set several commercial diving schools up with the IMCA DMT accreditation, two in the UK, one in Holland, one in Malta and one in Norway. The Diver Medic is now in the USA, and we have a Pre-Hospital Emergency Care for Divers course online. We are aiming for getting the NBDHMT DMT accreditation very soon. I am working on a new project with PADI, which I hope will be an international hit for all the divers who are wanting new and useful skills they can pass onto others. I have just become a member of the Explorers Club, so I hope to work with explorers in promoting safety and remote medicine. Q: You are now the DAN Europe Area Manager for the UK. What are your hopes of the Divers Alert Network within this country? A: Truthfully, there are three main players in this field. Chris Young, who has been involved with DAN Europe for more than 20 years, Steve Clark, who has been the Regional Training co-ordinator, and now I moved into this role. Chris Young has done a fantastic job and will continue to do so in Insurance and DAN’s Mission. My position is more customer relations, research development, and Training within the UK. We have just released the new DAN Europe First Aid at Work and DAN Emergency First Aid at Work courses online. One of our Missions is to educate divers in safety and awareness in the diving industry, and DAN wants to give back to the divers, letting them know we are there to help them in any diving emergency. We now have a fantastic collaboration with PADI with our Diving Pro insurance. The whole idea is to be more active in the UK and Ireland, provide a dedicated service to all divers who have DAN membership and to be more present at dive sites around the UK. This year we are going to have more research events around the UK for divers to take part in. DAN is also continuing their DAN Instructor Crossovers for Instructors to have a broader audience to teach to.

Q: You are in the Women Divers Hall of Fame. How did such a prestigious accolade come about? A: I was invited in 2014 to attend the dive show in New Jersey called Beneath the Sea by a very close friend of mine, Andrea Zaferes. I met Andrea the year before when I started my magazine, called then, Diver Medic and Aquatic Safety, later Diver Medic. I went to one of her courses called Aquatic death and homicidal drowning. It was just out of this world, so exciting. I became friends with Andrea, and she got to know all about me and what I did. In 2015, Andrea nominated me for WDHOF, but I did not get in - I was a new kid on the block, and no one knew me. I attended BTS and met a few of the ladies, and one of them said to me, ‘Chantelle, you are too young to get in’! I was ‘okay, never mind, I’m honoured to have been nominated’. Andrea nominated me for 2016, and to my surprise, I got inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Wow, what an honour to be among such prestigious woman. The WDHOF panel consists of six members who are secret and only the board know who they are. They deliberate for around two months and only six women get selected each year. A woman nominated to the WDHOF must meet two criteria to be considered for membership: She must be a diver, and her contribution must be recognised as significant. I help WDHOF with global outreach, so from being a very Americandominated membership, we have slowly introduced WDHOF into other countries. This year, we have women from Belgium, Switzerland, and Mexico.


I’m hoping to work with all training agencies to ensure their first aid and medical courses are up to date and assist where I can

NB: For those of you reading this now and thinking, hang on, I know a woman diver who has such qualities and deserves to be a member. Great! That’s the first step. Now all you have to do is nominate them for 2020! Q: What is your most memorable experience diving? A: It was last year April, when I went to Bonaire for a diving holiday. The diving was just outstanding. My most memorable was night diving bioluminescence. OMG, I fell in love with watching the ocean on fire at night. I was at 30m in total darkness just admiring the sea through the light of my GoBe Nightsea lens. I had a large jackfish swimming into me several times, but I didn’t care, I was in my element watching the ocean light up. Q: On the flipside, what is your worst memory diving? A: Oh dear, here comes Gareth Lock’s Human Factors… I was on a drift dive in Weymouth about eight years ago. I was diving with one of my diving instructors picking up scallops from the ocean floor at 18m. On our ascent, I decided to carry the 20kg bag of scallops while my buddy reeled in a little SMB reel. We had got to around 15m, and I started to get out of breath from exerting myself holding the massive bag of scallops. I then started to hyperventilate underwater. Never a good thing as when you hyperventilate you end up thinking you can’t breathe, pulling harder and harder on your reg. I went cold, had pins and needles in my arms and legs, felt an impending doom and wanted to spit my reg out and shoot to the surface. I tried everything to ensure it did not happen. It took me a while to realise I needed to hand the bag over to my buddy and concentrate on staying alive. I only started to feel better at around 9m, but I made it back alive. The lesson learned was to plan your dive, be fit to dive, don’t exert yourself, stay alive and use a lift bag next time.


Q: So, what does the future hold for Chantelle Newman? A: I’m hoping to work with all training agencies to ensure their first aid and medical courses are up to date and assist where I can. I hope to have the new PADI and DAN course out in the next month. I also would love to change the way people think about training first aid. Some agencies have instructors for years, but don’t check their continued level of training skills. Recently I experienced several instructors teaching the incorrect skills for CPR, choking and bleeding. Hopefully, we can change the mindset and offer CPD for all First Aid Instructors to ensure they are kept up to date. I find that your skills are only as good as your last instructors. n


FIRST TIME IN FULL-FACE MASK Full-face masks are one of the most-distinctive pieces of dive kit on the market, and Luke Evans was keen to try an Ocean Reef Integrated Diving Mask at the GO Diving Show PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS AND JASON BROWN


ull-face masks have been around for many years, but they were thrust into the limelight last year when the cave rescue team in Thailand utilised various versions of them to bring out the young football squad and their coach. Proponents of full-face masks have always waxed lyrical about their capabilities, which include offering a wide field of vision, allowing the user to breathe naturally through the mouth and nose, keeping the face warm on cold-water dives, actually being able to talk to their buddy and much more. Italian-American company Ocean Reef have been at the forefront of full-face mask innovation for many years, and their Integrated Diving Masks offer fantastic functionality at an eye-catching price (SRP: ÂŁ538.20) for the GDiver model.


Ocean Reef refer to their full-face masks as Integrated Diving Masks or IDMs as they incorporate a second stage regulator into the mask itself, as opposed to being the type of full-face mask which requires the user to retro-fit a standard second stage regulator. The Ocean Reef range of IDMs feature a pneumatically balanced second stage which is designed to provide consistent ease of breathing at any tank pressure and work with 99 percent of regulator first stages on the market. The large adjustment knob allows the user to tweak the airflow for their personal preference at varying depths. Some models have the addition of a dive/pre-dive Venturi lever which can further control air flow, limiting the chance of surface freeflow in cold conditions.


RECOGNISING AND CELEBRATING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SCUBA DIVERS The Next Generation section is aimed squarely at keen kids and talented teens, those youngsters who have embraced the underwater realm and are driving new blood into the diving fraternity. Tune in each month for Case Studies, reports, kit reviews and articles from our diving youth. Got a story to share about a young diver? - Email: to be included in a future edition of The Next Generation!

Not having a traditional regulator mouthpiece clenched between the teeth means no jaw fatigue and makes verbal communication underwater a doddle!

The orinasal pocket comfortably covers the mouth and nose allowing the user to breathe naturally. Not having a traditional regulator mouthpiece clenched between the teeth means no jaw fatigue and makes verbal communication underwater a doddle! Unlike a conventional dive mask, there is no fogging thanks to the one-way air-circulation system plus the design of the Ocean Reef IDM, which has the visor sitting close to the face, means you get an unparalleled field of vision. The polycarbonate visor is coated on both sides in a siloxane resin, which offers improved scratch and chemical resistance. A useful addition to the featured GDiver is a surface air valve. This allows users to breathe ambient air while keeping the mask securely on their face when at the surface, saving their valuable tank gas. Other models come with a surface air valve as standard. The mask is held in place by a six-strap head harness, which is attached to the face shield as opposed to the skirt for durability. The harness holds the mask in place even if the diver becomes unconscious, yet it can be removed quickly and easily thanks to Ocean Reef’s patented fast rotating buckles. Breathing automatically purges any water that may manage to find its way into the mask through the draining/ exhalation valve. Even if you voluntarily flooded the mask,



The Ocean Reef range of IDMs feature a pneumatically balanced second stage which is designed to provide consistent ease of breathing at any tank pressure and work with 99 percent of regulator first stages on the market a couple of presses of the second stage purge button completely clears all of the water. The exhaust valve on the Extender, Predator and Iron has multiple settings – it vents backwards under the chin, or you can elect for the bubbles to vent from the right-hand side or the left. One thing I heard several times when full-face masks were mentioned was ‘but how do you clear your ears?’. Well, if you are one of those lucky people who can clear their ears by simply waggling their jaw or swallowing, then that is even easier to accomplish wearing a IDM. If you need to do it the old-fashioned way, Ocean Reef have got that covered too – there is a three-way directional adjustment system with soft plugs, that when positioned correctly, means you can block your nostrils and create a nasal seal by simply pushing the mask towards your face. You can then exhale and clear your ears the same as you do when you ‘pinch’ your nose in a standard mask. Luke Evans had been attracted to these undoubtedly cool-looking pieces of dive kit for a few years, so jumped at the chance for a try-dive in an Ocean Reef mask, in nifty ‘Stormtrooper’ black-and-white. The GDiver IDM worn by Luke was fitted with the optional Extender kit, which offers the opportunity to mount action cameras, torches and communications units, as well as providing some additional protection for your head. The Extender Kit comes as standard with the ‘Extender’ IDM range. Thanks to the fact that there are two different sizes of skirt, in five of the available seven colours, Ocean Reef UK and Malta’s Craig Mainprize was able to set up the GDiver to fit Luke’s 12-year-old face perfectly. This is another ace-up-thesleeve for Ocean Reef – if a child starts using an IDM, once their face ‘outgrows’ the smaller skirt, it is a relatively simple matter for a certified Ocean Reef technician to swap out the small skirt for the larger version so the mask can ‘grow’ with the user.

Craig gave Luke the lowdown on full-face masks on the Ocean Reef booth at the GO Diving Show, explaining how to don and doff the IDM. Once the action moved to one of the two monster 100 sqm pools, Craig ensured that the mask was fitted correctly and that Luke was all good to go. The session was only a short one, but enough to give Luke a taste for it. He was comfortably swimming up and down the pool within a matter of seconds of being submerged, and when I quizzed him on the experience afterwards, he commented that it ‘felt weird being able to breathe through my nose’ and was also enthused by the visibility afforded by the mask. He said it felt comfortable on his face, and he reckoned that he would like to dive one for a longer period to really get to grips with it. A ‘full’ course might be on the horizon …


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.



fter all my intense and unforgettable expeditions to Antarctica over the last months, I’ve discovered that cold-water diving really fills my heart with joy. All the amazing things yet to be discovered in these freezing waters leaves me astonished and I can’t wait to keep exploring and studying the polar regions underwater in the future. My next stop in my freezing journey led me to northern Iceland. Close to Akureyri, in the small village of Hjalteyri, Erlendur Bogason offered me to join him on another unforgettable diving experience. Erlendur is the owner of Strytan Dive Centre, a pretty diving facility located in an old halibut-rearing installation with amazing views to the Eyjafjörður. As soon as I landed in Akureyri, among a pretty bad snowstorm which made the flight quite interesting, I got picked up by Erlendur and the next day we started getting ready to go underwater. In my first dive, I got to help him on a kelp survey for two pharmaceutical researchers that were trying to develop some drugs for stomach illnesses. Erlendur is usually involved in research projects and his experience and expertise about the underwater world around Iceland is usually sought by many. After the survey, Erlundur took me to one of the mostpopular dive-sites that they have around - Arnarnesstrýtur. This is a magnificent formation of about 30 metres in diameter with the shape of many cones rising above the seafloor, like underwater chimneys ten metres high where hot water rushes out from the inside of the marine crust. In Arnarnesstrýtur, about three years ago, Erlendur took a picture of a wolf fish (Anarhichas lupus) with its eggs in a hole. Once at home, he tried to find out any information about the life cycle of this fish, which is extensively fished in Icelandic waters and that has also an increasing interest in aquaculture at high latitudes as a cold-water species. Therefore, Erlendur decided to start monitoring and

documenting the local wolf fish of Arne Strytan. The only thing that he hasn’t been able to document yet after three years of watching very close, these animals is to capture the moment when the eggs hatch in their natural environment. And that is what I came to dive with him, to try help him document this exciting moment. Erlendur explained me that since he has been studying these fishes, he has noted that every year, the hatching of the eggs is delayed more and more. The first year, they hatched 1 February, the second year the 20th of the same month and this year we had signs of some eggs having hatched by 6 March. That means that the waters are getting colder, and it’s taking more time for the eggs to hatch. This committed and dedicated Icelandic diver is trying to gather as much information as he can in every dive in order to answer some questions, such as why the wolf fish stocks have been declining in Icelandic waters in the last few decades, and to hopefully shine some light into this very valuable but so unknown species. Although I couldn’t see the eggs hatch during the week that I spent with Erlendur, I could definitely see how intelligent and sociable these animals are, and I could witness a very special connection that he has with the fishes that he sees almost every day. Another amazing experience that I had with Erlendur was when he took me to dive at the big Strytan! This is a mindblowing hydrothermal vent, shaped as a cone, with 50m rising from the bottom of the seafloor up until 15m, and that makes it the shallowest vent in the world, known so far, where you can dive. Seeing the astonishing pillar rushing hot water everywhere was something hard to describe with words. The theory says that life, started some millions of years ago in places with similar conditions as in Stryan. The high pH, the sunlight, the magnesium and silicate that comes out with the water and the electric pulse that is produced due to the rushing of hot water with cold water is what is believed might have started everything. Who would have ever told me that I could dive one day where life possibly originated, diving among water of 11,000 years old coming out from mother earth! Breathtaking! n

Eric Jorda

South Lawson Wood returns to the Egyptian Red Sea some 45 years after his initial visit, and ‘dives’ into a liveaboard-based Deep South photography workshop with Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield PHOTOGRAPHS BY LAWSON WOOD




ome 45 years after I first visited the Red Sea, my love for that region has never diminished. That first frisson of excitement came as we were starting to descend and flew over the Red Sea mountains of Upper Egypt and could see the shores of the Red Sea beckoning and the amazing colours of the sea. The route of the Airbus to Hurghada swung around over Marsa Alam, which was the destination of our dive hosts, Emperor Divers (, and our embarkation port for all points to the southern Egyptian Red Sea. I have dived with Emperor Divers before and have struck up a good working relationship with them, so they are my dive company of choice. Diverse Travel ( had dealt with my flight and I travelled with Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield, who was running a photography trip for Emperor Divers with me as an add-on. I came ‘on-board’ for my Red Sea environment expertise, reef ecology, insight on easy photoshop quick fixes, and to pass on as many hints and tips as possible to the future underwater photographers on board, while reminiscing about the early days of exploring the Red Sea back in the 80s and describing many of the reefs and wrecks which we discovered while I was working on the legendary Lady Jenny liveaboards. What would make this liveaboard dive trip stand out from all the others was that there was an ‘open deck’ policy, where photographers and their buddies would be able to dive as little or as much as they wanted, without time restrictions. After a three-hour transfer from Hurghada airport, we joined the other 16 guests on the liveaboard dive boat Emperor Superior at Port Ghalib, the home port of Emperor Divers in this section of the southern Red Sea. The spacious aft deck of the boat had camera rinse tanks, plenty of air and nitrox filled at your station and big storage boxes for all your kit. Personal towels were kept handy to keep the interior of the saloon nice and dry. Lengthy dive and photographic briefings later, we were all ready for the first dive of a week’s liveaboard trip.

Pristine soft corals in the Deep South

Even mooring lines are covered in marine growth

Eagle ray flypast

This reef cluster is around a dozen-plus coral heads in a tight cluster, many of which are slightly overhung creating numerous small and safe caves and caverns, swim-throughs and with hundreds of roof-top fissures that lets light through in streams





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Clam close-up

Three-spot dascyllus

‘Pyjama’ nudi’branch



Picasso triggerfish

Giant clam

Umbilical ovula

Orange-lined triggerfish

Spinner dolphins

The first dive was at Sha’ab Abu Dabab, a series of sheltered rocky reefs, perfect for an easy check-out dive, easy photography and plenty of time to reacquaint ourselves with the underwater wonders of the Red Sea. The remains of a small wreck were close to the Emperor Superior’s mooring (which had a resident juvenile eagle ray) and the seabed all around was dotted with varied hard corals. The steeper reef edge to this bay had massive stony corals cut with long deep canyons and caverns where brilliant red big-eyes and various snapper hung out. Sha’ab Abu Galawa Soraya further to the south and an overnight sail had us arriving for an early morning dive just as the sun was coming up. This reef had numerous swim-throughs, tons of anemones and clownfish and a huge variety of tropical fish of every colour imaginable. These types of isolated coral heads are perfect for leisurely exploration, allowing photographers to concentrate on improving their skills. Further to the south is the location of one of the natural wonders of the Red Sea. Sataya is a simply massive horseshoe-shaped reef with a huge, shallow protected lagoon where a large group of spinner dolphins like to hang out, have fun, have babies and allow us ungainly land-lubbers the opportunity to swim freely with their extended family. Spinner dolphins, as the name would suggest, love to leap out of the water and perform several breath-taking spins in the air before plunging back into the sea. Sadly, we did not witness this kind of behaviour, but we did have two long encounters with over 30 of the dolphins as they surrounded us and allowed for an amazing wildlife interaction. One of the highlights of the southern reefs towards the


Fury Shoals is a reef simply known as Claudia. This reef cluster is around a dozen-plus coral heads in a tight cluster, many of which are slightly overhung creating numerous small and safe caves and caverns, swim-throughs and with hundreds of rooftop fissures that lets light through in streams. The top canyon has a superb cluster of brilliant red anemones literally filled with clownfish and three-spot dascillus, but it is the dappled sunlight that streams through the corals that makes this site so special. Elphinstone Reef is always at the top of many photographic lists in the southern Red Sea. Sadly, due to the fact that a number of dive sites were off-limits for various reasons, Elphinstone was decidedly overcrowded. The eastern wall in the morning has superb gardens of brilliantly coloured soft corals, but the dozens of divers in the water at the same time made for very challenging photography, so instead of this being a wide-angle location, it was easier to concentrate Crinoids

Divers awaiting pick-up




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on photographing fish and the other residents of this superabundant reef. Very productive indeed! Marsa Shona soon followed and the ‘open-deck’ policy allowed for multiple dives on a simply stunning shallow reef with nice overhangs filled with brilliant red squirrelfish, yellow damselfish and many different types of wrasse and parrotfish. This reef looks like it will be an absolutely superb night dive as brilliant cup-corals were evident very close to the surface. Abu Galawa Kebir has a shipwreck on the western side from reef top to 28m and was chosen for a late-afternoon dive and unrestricted night dive. There is a very interesting and large cavern just underneath the wreck’s bows and small cowries and clams are prominent. On the return to Port Ghalib, we stopped once more for an evening dive at Sha’ab Abu Dahab. The small wreck here has a resident juvenile eagle ray that appears quite sociable and happy to be photographed. The caverns formed around the perimeter of the coral reef are home to a huge array of critters not usually seen on the open reef scape. The dive boat Emperor Superior is excellent; the crew are very skilled and professional and the chefs on board were excellent, catering for all the modern-day dietary vagaries. I have worked with Emperor Divers for quite a few years now and I have to point out that this is one of the mostprofessional dive companies in operation today and I am happy, satisfied and in awe of how everything comes together in a short space of time to the satisfaction of all their guests. n Bullethead parrotfish

Fan coral beneath the boat

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Following his last article on underwater composition, Martyn Guess provides some more tips on how we can all get better underwater images PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARTYN GUESS






















Creating an exposure which is harmonious using the three elements is a fine balancing act. Once you have made a




In any type of photography, exposure is a critical element that dictates what is recorded on a camera’s sensor. There are three elements that control exposure excluding your strobe power - Aperture (F stops), Shutter speed and ISO (your camera’s sensor’s sensitivity to light). In a previous article in this magazine, I discussed how important it is to take control of these elements of exposure by using the camera’s manual setting. Without this, you cannot choose the combination of aperture, speed and ISO that will give you the best exposure for the picture you want to create, whether it is a sharp macro image (Image one) using a small aperture, a wide-angle shot of a reef scene with a natural-looking blue background, using a lower speed (Image two) or a slow-motion shot of a shark with motion blur, using a very slow speed (Image three) or a slightly out-of-focus bokeh macro shot, using a large aperture (Image four). In underwater photography we want to bring colours to life and the reason we use strobes is to do just that. It is important though that the strobe power is used to paint the image with light and that the exposure is, of course, right in the first place. The following might seem complicated, but please bear with me!





f you study a good underwater image and look at the components that help it to be memorable - whether it be an interesting subject exhibiting some particular behaviour, or maybe something brightly coloured or lit in a different way - if it isn’t well exposed, the picture simply won’t stand out and command attention from the viewer and you, the photographer, will be disappointed. In this article, I want to look at how to get the best exposure and to be sure it is right underwater.






decision about one element, say aperture for depth of field reasons, then you will have to adjust the other two. It is very important to get all three elements in harmony together and spending some time understanding this will have massive benefits as your photography progresses.


Controls the lens diaphragm, which controls the amount of light getting through to the camera sensor. It also controls depth of field (DOF), the amount of the picture in focus from foreground to background. A small aperture or high F-stop, such as F22, will give you the biggest DOF, but the smallest amount of light getting through so will require an adjustment of the speed and/or ISO to get more light to the subject and more strobe power. A big aperture or small F-stop, such as F4, will blur the background and give you some nice bokeh, but will let a lot more light get to the sensor so again will require the speed and or ISO to be adjusted and the strobe power to be turned down.

Image 1. Shot with small aperture for Max DOF– F22. 1/200 sec ISO 400 to compensate for smaller light getting to sensor


Is the speed at which the camera’s curtain opens and shuts and thus controls the amount of time that the light hits the sensor. It is important in freezing the action with moving subjects and with underwater photography generally to freeze the shot when we are swaying around – it is almost impossible to be as still underwater as it is on land! If you have to use a faster shutter speed to freeze the action, then you will have to adjust to a bigger aperture (smaller F-stop) to allow more light in or increase the ISO. With underwater photography, there are other aspects to take into account. Speed can control the background water colour. A lower speed will give you a lighter colour be it blue or green water, and a higher speed the converse. When using dome ports, it is best not to use too wide apertures as the corners of the images will not be sharp, this is particularly the case with full-frame cameras so lower speeds or higher ISO settings, or a combination of both can help once a smaller aperture is set. ISO is how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. Each ISO number, higher or lower, is a doubling or halving of the sensor’s sensitivity to light. Beware however that higher ISO numbers will start to introduce digital noise and degrade the image quality, so be aware of the optimum range of ISO for your particular camera. More recent cameras can handle higher ISO numbers very well and thus ISO is a very useful tool in the Exposure triangle as it lets you choose the optimum combination of aperture and speed. Correct use of the Exposure Triangle lets you decide how to adjust the triangle. Referring to the diagram (Image five) when you increase the exposure for one element (green arrows), you need to adjust it for one or both of the others (red arrows) If you can master this relationship, you will have control over the images that you create.


Want to learn how to take or improve your underwater 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. This year there are trips back to Bali in August for wide angle and macro photography opportunities and a joint trip with Mario Vitalini to the Southern Red Sea in May. There is a Northern Red Sea trip in November and again in July 2020. There are also to Lembeh/ Manado and Dumaguete Philippines in 2020.

Image 2. Slower speed for Blue 1/80 Sec. F14 and ISO 200 to compensate for more light getting to sensor

Image 3. Slow speed for motion blur – 1/8th Sec – 1/320th ISO 200 to compensate for more light getting to sensor


The most valuable tool we have on our digital cameras to help us get the exposure right is the Histogram setting. But before I explain a little more about how to use Histograms, I want to talk about the LCD. It’s a brilliant feature when compared to film days when you had no idea whether your images worked or not until much later after the dive, and often weeks later when the film was processed. However, while it works perfectly on land, underwater the LCD-reviewed image can appear much brighter than it actually is. Remember we are shooting images at depth underwater and the ambient light is far less than at the surface. When you see your image on the LCD at depth, it will definitely look brighter than reality because the surrounding light is darker, and this will give you an inaccurate interpretation of the reality. How often have you got back from a dive and the pictures are disappointing because they are too dark? One solution to help is to turn the brightness of your LCD down. I turn mine down by -1 for daylight and -2 for night dives. Experiment and work out what’s best for you. The best solution to fully understand whether the image you have taken is best exposed is to use the camera’s Histogram. Because I use them all the time, I have set my camera up so that I can easily review the histogram for each image by a thumb press on the rear multi-function button. Check out your camera instructions to see how you do this on your camera. I review my Histograms religiously. I have learnt to read them and understand what they show. A Histogram is a graphical representation of the tonal values of your image. It shows the tonal values of the brightness in your image, varying from 0% black on the far left of the graph to 100% white on the far-right hand side. People often look at the Histogram and are totally confused by what

Image 6. Screen shot showing good exposure Histogram

Image 4. Open aperture for blur F5.6 - 1/320 and ISO 100 to compensate for more light getting to sensor

it represents. However, if you look at the picture of the screen grab from my computer of the jellyfish (Image six) you will see that the Histogram in the top right-hand side shows a neat pyramid. This is pretty much the perfect exposure. The graph reaches fully from edge to edge without a space on one side or another. It just touches the left- and right-hand edges and does not spill up the sides. If the Histogram goes up right on the right-hand axis of the graph this means that some pixels have been burnt out. If it goes up on the left-hand side, then these pixels are black. Of course, not all Histograms are perfect pyramids. Some images such as macro shots with black backgrounds will be biased towards the left-hand side and those with a lot of white will be biased towards the right-hand axis. They are very useful tools though in determining underwater whether the exposure needs to be adjusted or whether the strobe power needs to be increased. While on first glance all of this might seem complicated, I recommend you practise different combinations of settings to achieve a good exposure and Histogram on the surface before you dive next. Learn the effect of adjusting speed and ISO with different apertures and strobe power and check your Histograms regularly and your pictures will soon be far better exposed on a more-regular basis. n

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EPILEPSY head trauma, a stroke, brain tumours and withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs. It would appear that certain conditions may lower the threshold for epileptic seizures and in-water exposure certainly counts as the single most important one when we bring diving into the equation. Sensory deprivation, hyperventilation, nitrogen narcosis, acidosis (from carbon dioxide retention), anxiety and hypoxia (for whatever reason) may all contribute to lowering the threshold of convulsions under normal circumstances. These can all occur more easily at depth. Other factors include fatigue, psychological stress, substance abuse, flickering lights, illness and certain nutrient deficiencies. Combining even a single one of the aforementioned factors and in-water exposure puts an epileptic person at greater risk when diving - firstly, it increases the risk of having a seizure underwater, and secondly, it increases the near-inevitability of a fatal outcome, i.e. drowning.


Dr Louis van Heerden looks at epilepsy, and what this means for divers/those wanting to dive PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF DAN EUROPE


ivers who have epilepsy should consider all the factors of their condition before going underwater, as a seizure while diving can have serious implications for the diver. The terms ‘epilepsy’ and ‘seizures’ (or convulsions) are generally used interchangeably. Seizures are paroxysmal (unpredictable and uncontrollable) manifestations of the electrical properties of the cerebral cortex. To put it differently, it is the uncontrolled, involuntary electrical discharge of neuronal activity of a part or whole of the brain. To bring this into perspective, epilepsy is a medical condition with recurrent, unprovoked seizures. The classification and manifestations will depend on the area of the brain that is involved.

Let’s take a closer look at the anatomy (structure) and physiology (functioning) of epilepsy. It can broadly be classified as focal seizures, where the electrical discharge of neurons (brain cells) involves only a specific part or area of the brain, or as generalised seizures, where the whole brain is involved. The structural area of the brain that is involved, in part or as a whole, is called the cerebral cortex and anatomically constitutes the surface area of the cerebrum (the ‘large’ brain). The focal interictal epileptiform spike or sharp wave is the clinical neurophysiological hallmark of focal-onset seizures and the cellular neurophysiological correlate to this is called the paroxysmal depolarisation shift (PDS). In short, this process involves depolarisation (a change of the resting potential or ‘current’) of the neurons through calcium-dependent potassium channels, followed by a prominent after-hyperpolarisation. If the number of discharging neurons are more than a several million, scalpelectrographic electrodes are able to record the electrical activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG). The mechanisms that may co-exist in different combinations to cause


One may find it quite surprising that seizures are a verycommon, non-specific manifestation of neurological injury and disease. As we understand it, the main function of the brain is to transmit electrical impulses. It is said in recent literature that one’s lifetime likelihood of experiencing at least one epileptic seizure is around nine percent and that the likelihood to receive the diagnoses of epilepsy in one’s lifetime is about three percent. The prevalence of active epilepsy, though, is only about 0.8 percent. Epileptic seizures may have many causes, including a genetic predisposition,



DIVERS ALERT NETWORK: EUROPE DAN Europe is an international non-profit medical and research organisation dedicated to the safety and health of divers. WWW.DANEUROPE.ORG

focal-onset seizures are decreased inhibition or increased excitation of the neurons. These will be summarised, because an in-depth discussion falls outside the scope of this article. Mechanisms leading to decreased inhibition of neurons are defective gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-A and B (which is a neurotransmitter) inhibition, defective activation of GABA neurons and the defective intracellular buffering of calcium. Mechanisms leading to increased excitation of neurons are increased activation of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors, increased synchrony between neurons due to ephaptic (passage of an electrical impulse from one neuron to the next) interactions and increased synchrony and/or activation due to recurrent excitatory collaterals. Focal-onset seizures may advance to generalised seizures. The influence of the diving environment on epilepsy has already been discussed. When considering these variables individually, each and every one already constitutes a contraindication to diving. One should appreciate the gravity of the situation when these are combined.


While it is true that the risk cannot be quantified, most medical professionals will remain reluctant to declare recreational divers with undiagnosed seizures or the diagnoses of epilepsy fit to dive in view of the possibility of a fatal outcome should the risk occur. It is the opinion of this author that an individual with epilepsy should channel his/her adventurous energy into land-based activities that can offer just as much exhilaration and fulfilment. Seizures that were caused by vagus stimulation (fainting due to a nerve outflow pathway), positional hypotension (low blood pressure), low blood sugar, recreational drugs and fever convulsions before the age of five (without any subsequent seizures), may be the exceptions. The data available to us tell us the following: 30 percent of individuals suffering from epilepsy will have seizures or convulsions despite their medication, about 50 percent of children


suffering from juvenile epilepsy will have no recurrence in adulthood with no increased risk when compared to the general population (some authorities maintain there is an increased risk of less than one percent), chances of experiencing another seizure decreases exponentially with time and reaches an almost normal risk after five years (which does not take the added stresses of diving into consideration), and 30 percent of children and 65 percent of adults will experience epileptic seizures or convulsions in the first two years that they discontinue their anti-epileptic medication. Some diving authorities now allow individuals with epilepsy to dive after five years with no seizures after discontinuing their medication. Other medical professionals are of the opinion that two years without seizures after discontinuing medication may be an acceptable risk for these individuals to dive, with the provisos of a depth restriction to 15m of seawater (MSW), clear warm water and no nitrox breathing mixtures. Although the incidence of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is low (about 2.3 times higher than in the general population), most of these deaths are due to impaired consciousness. A diver with epilepsy should ultimately decide. Should they wish to continue with diving after considering all the information provided, they should accept the increased risk, as should their dive buddies.


Safety when diving should always remain your first and foremost priority. This also applies when considering a condition like epilepsy and its medication. Remember, you are also responsible for the safety of the divers diving with you. The DAN Europe hotline is always available with specialised help. n


Neil Bennett continues his exploration of the deeper wrecks off the Solomon Islands, this time visiting the US Navy ‘oiler’ USS Kanawha, which is still crammed full of interesting artefacts PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL BENNETT AND ELMA DETTE


he conflicts in the Solomon Islands have been documented as one of the most-severe periods of battle between two opposing forces, resulting in massive loses for both sides. In particular, one offensive launched by the Japanese, called Operation I-Go, has significance importance to the modern-day diving world, providing us with a large assortment of shipwrecks to explore. 7 April 1943 proved to be a fateful day in Tulagi, with a number of Allied ships sunk by the Japanese from air attacks during Operation I-Go in the Guadalcanal. This massive aerial counter-offensive against the Allied forces saw a raid by 67 Aichi D3A2 ‘Val’ dive bombers, escorted by 110 Zeros, launched against the Allied fleet at rest off the island of Tulagi. In reply, 76 Allied fighters were launched in defence of their Naval fleet. During this encounter, 21 Japanese aircraft were lost and a further seven Allied aircraft. The raid also resulted in the sinking of the destroyer USS Aaron Ward, the corvette HMNZS Moa, and the tanker USS Kanawha. The goal of the operation was to halt the Allied offensives in New Guinea and the Solomons in an attempt to give Japan time to prepare a new set of defences in response to recent defeats to the Allies in the Battle of Guadalcanal and in New Guinea at Buna–Gona, Wau, and the Bismarck Sea. Although the Japanese sank several Allied transports and warships, the attack failed to inflict serious damage on

Allied forces. Based on inaccurate and unintentionally exaggerated reports from the involved aircrews, Admiral Yamamoto halted the attacks on 16 April, believing the operation to be a success. The operation, however, did not significantly delay Allied preparations for further offensives in the South Pacific area. Yamamoto was killed shortly thereafter while travelling to congratulate units that had participated in the operation. The USS Kanawha was anchored in Tulagi Harbour along with 15 torpedo boats and their tender Niagara, three tugs, the Navy transport Stratford, six transport ships and eight landing craft. HMNZS Moa was refuelling from the tanker USS Eskine M Phelps, the minesweeper Conflict, the net tenders Buttercup and Aloe, the US coaster Awahou and some auxiliary ships. AA gun seemingly ready to fire

Diver admires the AA gun

On either side of the deck her two AA guns (depth about 46m) remain pointing in defiance up at the skies Penetrating into the wreck

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This impressive number of vessels must have presented easy and irresistible target to the attacking forces. The Kanawha had already been in Tulagi for seven days and was waiting for an escort so she could leave the harbour. At 12.30pm, the skipper of the Kanawha, Lieutenant Commander Brainerd Bock, had been informed that enemy planes had been sighted leaving Bougainville heading for the Guadalcanal area. When the escort finally arrived, Kanawha was given the task to refuel this ship, adding to the delay of escaping what was to come. At 2.45pm, she left.

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The Kanawha joined escorts PC-85 and USS Taylor. The time was now 3.02pm and the enemy had already been sighted over Savo Island just a short distance away. Of these, 18 went in the direction of Tulagi and 15 of these subsequently went for the biggest target, the USS Kanawha. An oil tanker will always present itself as the better target. Sinking an oil tanker can cripple or severely hurt dozens of warships, while sinking one warship has a smaller impact. The enemy began their attack, dropping their cargo of 500lb bombs onto the Kanawha. The first plane to attack was hit by the AA guns and the bomb missed, exploding about three metres from the hull near the forecastle/main deck line. Even though it missed, the resultant force blew a large hole in the hull. The ammunition magazine was located just aft of this line in the middle of the ship, this began to flood from the explosion as the water-tight doors gave way under the water pressure. The next two attacks saw their bombs hit home - the first through the bridge and the other via the funnel into the engine room. The Kanawha was now mortally wounded with a total loss of engine power. Fuel oil was all over the main and cargo decks and all the hatches were blown off. Kanawha inevitably caught fire soon after. The situation began to get worse as all of the C02 cylinders that were connected to the fire extinguisher system began to fail. The fires were raging out of control and the ship was now dead in the water. She began to sink and Lt Com Bock ordered the Kanawha to be abandoned. Attempts were made by the USS Rail to fight the fires, managing to control those near the bridge, however, ammunition started to explode and the Rail urgently

Parts of the Kanawha are well broken A torch is essential at depth

Rope coils in a silty storeroom

The stern itself presents an impressive sight with a huge platform that sticks out from the rear of the ship

abandoned the task. Efforts were also made by the USS Chestnut, USS Rail, USS Monenomee and a LCT to salvage the ship, but this also proved unsuccessful. The USS Kanawha sank at 4am on 8 April 1943 with the loss of 19 men from a crew of 317. USS Kanawha (AO-1) (originally Fuel Ship No. 13) was the first purpose-built oiler of the US Navy. She was laid down 8 December 1913 by the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California; launched 11 July 1914. In the United States Navy, an oiler is a Combat Logistics ship that replenishes other ships with fuel and in some cases food, mail, ammunition and other necessities while at sea, in a process called Underway Replenishment, or UNREP. Up through World War Two, Navy oilers used commercial tanker hulls, with the addition of UNREP gear, defensive guns, and military electronic and damage-control equipment. She was a large ship with a length of 144.96 metres, a beam of 17.15 metres, and a displacement of 14,800 tonnes full loaded. She was still capable of 14 knots. Today, the wreck of the USS Kanawha lies north east of Soghonangola Island at the entrance to Tulagi Harbour. She faces the island (south) and lays upright on a sandy bottom at a maximum depth of about 58m. Salvaging attempts were made over the years by blowing a hole into her side to remove the ship’s safes, along with the bells. Due to the depths, a large amount of items still remain untouched for divers to see and explore. The bow itself is damaged into a sort of S-shape and the hull on the port side has a huge ripple in it. The view from the side or front of the bow is impressive. As you move across the deck you can see the large forward gun platform, a raised platform at a depth of about 44m. This has now started to collapse and the gun has been missing for some time. Under the platform, you will find a huge winch. The guns are a favourite subject for divers

The AA guns railed to save her from attack

On either side of the deck her two AA guns (depth about 46m) remain pointing in defiance up at the skies. Two anchors lay on the main deck just behind the forecastle, one on either side (depth about 48m). The layout of the guns with their respective platforms provides for unmistakable images. The forecastle is easy to penetrate. It is possible to enter the forecastle in a number of ways. Hatches in the forecastle deck invite you to drop in. A tight squeeze in some cases, but possible. Inside the forecastle, there are lots of gas cylinders, probably used for welding. You can exit back out onto the main deck via doorways on either the port or starboard side. On the main deck you will see that there are a number of hatchways that drop into storage rooms on several decks. All of which contain items to see and explore. There are also huge reels of rope that are full of silt; touching these will quickly destroy any visibility in these tight rooms. The stern is normally taken as a separate dive, the props can be found sticking out of the sand at 58m. The stern itself presents an impressive sight with a huge platform that sticks out from the rear of the ship. On the main deck you will see that there are a number of guns in the stern area. In the middle there is a large gun on a raised platform pointing into the air. The Kanawha presents an exciting dive with plenty of areas to penetrate, providing easy access and escape routes. She is laden with artefacts and makes for excellent photo opportunities. Her bow and stern are unmistakable with the array of guns that appear to be on show. While she sits at a respectable depth, she is not too deep for those suitably trained, as to present a major problem with decompression obligations. In comparison to the Aaron Ward, she is a much easier dive and just as rewarding. The Kanawha has proved to be one of the most-popular wrecks to dive in Tulagi, and you will not be disappointed. n

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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 offgassing 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

What’s New


Sharkskin has extended its range of lightweight, technologically advanced waterwear. This short sleeve with chest zip, or long sleeve with full zip, both come in female (sizes 8-18) and male (sizes XS-5XL) cuts. Made from Sharkskin’s aquatic-specific chillproof multi-layer material, the garments are breathable, have four-way stretch, are neutrally buoyant and give equivalent thermal protection to 2.5-3mm neoprene.


The Rock Hopper shoes are lightweight yet pack a punch in comfort and versatility. Comfortable for clambering over rocks thanks to the natural rubber outsole and ergonomic footbed, the Rock Hoppers are equally suited to use with open-heel fins thanks to heel reinforcement and a durable lining over the bridge of the foot. The 3mm stretch neoprene is very comfortable and is lined with OceanPositive fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The smoothskin seal around the ankle minimises water movement and helps to keep the shoes in place whether walking, climbing or finning.


Beuchat are certainly ensuring that everyone notices their return to the UK market when it comes to the masks – I don’t think I have ever seen such a bright, vibrant range of colours in masks! The Maxlux S mask has a very low profile, hypoallergenic silicon skirt, which is super-soft and comfortable. As the skirt is bonded 82

directly on to the single lens, you get a superb panoramic field of vision. There are three new colours for 2019 – salmon, electric blue and yellow sun – which join the array of blues, yellows, pinks, reds, oranges, white and black already available. WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

BIGBLUE TL 2600 (SRP: £250)


The X-Flex Solo is Roho’s brand-new suit that offers a telescopic torso and cross-chest front-entry zipper. It is made from the company’s X-Flex fabric, which is soft and comfortable but also durable and hard-wearing. As usual for Roho, it is triple-glued and taped to ensure water integrity. It has Melco kneepads, neck warmer/protector, internal braces and two large tech pockets. The neck and wrist seals are latex, and it has hard-soled neoprene-lined feet. Available in pink, blue, black or red, and optional extras at no extra cost include latex socks, heavy-duty seals or neoprene seals.


Bigblue dive lights have been shining bright since they hit the UK market, and the TL 2600 is continuing that trend. With a light output over four levels ranging between 260Lm2600Lm with a 10° beam, it offers burn times of between 15 hours and 1.5 hours. The aluminium case is double O-ring sealed and rated to 100m, and the on/off power switch also indicates battery level. The light comes complete with Li-ion battery, charger, aluminium handle, soft goodman glove and dry bag. It is available in two colour schemes - techie black or vibrant pink. WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

Every once in a while comes a subtle change that affects, in such a dramatic way, the most-simple of tasks. xDeep have taken the industry-standard boltsnap and thrown the rule book out of the window. The redesign, from basic concept through function to individual design detail gives the new NX range of boltsnaps class-leading performance and ergonomics, once again proving that every aspect of your diving kit has room for optimisation. 83

Gear Guide


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.


This issue, we round out our reviews of one of the mostvital pieces of the modern divers’ kit bag regulators, or more specifically, top-of-the-line regs. Without a solid, reliable reg, you aren’t going anywhere underwater, as this is your true life-support system. As many of our readers dive in the UK, and some all year round, we always test regulators in February and March, when water temperatures are at their lowest in the inland sites - much to the chagrin of the Test Team members. We push the units to their max by extensively purging them underwater and topside, over-breathing them underwater to simulate a panic situation, breathing them in every orientation, working any Venturi and/or cracking resistance controls, and various other trials - if they can handle this over-the-top usage, they can handle a normal diving situation. A large array of manufacturers produce regulators, and our aim here at Scuba Diver is to give you the widest selection in each review. Now that Oceanic and Hollis are back in the UK market through Huish Outdoors, we have a good array from these two manufacturers, along with Apeks, Aqua Lung, Zeagle, Mares, Atomic Aquatics and Scubapro.


• SCUBAPRO MK25 EVO/A700 • ZEAGLE F8 Location: Tested at Vivian Dive Centre, Llanberis Water temp: 5 degrees C WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

APEKS MTX-R | SRP: £569 The Apeks MTX-R is the civilian version of the military-spec MTX (it was developed in accordance with the United States Navy Experimental Dive Unit’s extreme cold-water test), and this regulator - which can perform in almost-freezing waters at a depth of over 60m - looks super-slick in its classy iPhone white and matt-silver with engraved stencilling. A first-of-its-kind over-moulded first stage end cap and environmental diaphragm prevent ice build-up, and the forged body, which has five low-pressure ports (on a swivel) and two high-pressure ports, gives maximum thermal performance. The second stage has no dive adjustment controls, has a patented heated exchanger surrounding the valve mechanism, and is equipped with a double-swivel braided hose. All of the Test Team were very complimentary about the construction and looks of both the first and second stages of the MTX-R, and positive comments were made about the lack of controls - it just works well out of the box, there is nothing to fiddle with - and the comfort of the ComfoBite mouthpiece. It breathes well in all positions. As you expect, all of the regulators in this price bracket performed well, but the MTX-R is ultra-smooth in all orientations and however you are breathing through it, making it a clear favourite.



TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.25kg | HOSE: braided | VENTURI: no VERDICT: Good-looking, very well-made cold-water regulator that stands out from the crowd and gives a silky smooth breathe in all positions.



AQUA LUNG LEGEND SUPREME | SRP: £405 The Aqua Lung Legend Supreme is an eyecatching cold-water-approved regulator that features some nifty styling and performance points. The chunky but compact environmentally sealed, over-balanced diaphragm first stage has two high-pressure and four low-pressure ports, and is equipped with Aqualung’s Auto Closure Device (ACD), which keeps any corrosive water out of the first stage inlet by automatically closing as it is removed from the cylinder valve. The pneumatically balanced second stage has a heat exchanger to help dissipate the cold, Comfo-Bite mouthpiece (with removeable lip shield for added warmth) and a decent-sized venturi lever for helping to prevent freeflow at the surface. The Legend Supreme comes in at a strong price point and scored highly with all the Test Team members, who were impressed by its smooth, dry breathe, comfortable mouthpiece, efficient purge and slick good looks. The venturi lever was easy to use even with thick gloves on, though the effects on the performance were not that noticeable - it just breathed well all the time.We did manage to get it to freeflow after some serious abuse, but in normal usage it coped well. Well-priced, well-built regulator with a proven history.


TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.01kg | HOSE: braided | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: Attractive set-up benefitting from some neat design features, comfy mouthpiece, smooth performance and solid build quality.




ATOMIC AQUATICS Z3 | SRP: £469.95 Atomic Aquatics are renowned for producing high-end, high-performance regs, but with the Z3, they have managed to bring all this workmanship and technology into a well-priced package. The Zirconium - that’s what the ‘Z’ stands for - delivers corrosion-resistance apparently three to four times that of conventional chrome plating, and the second stage lever, orifice and spring are titanium, as with the higher-spec (and price) models. It is equipped with a factory sealed first stage, huge purge button, comfort swivel, and no less than seven low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports. As with all Atomic products, the reg benefits from a limited lifetime warranty - not contingent on proof of service and boasts a two-year/300 dive service interval. The Z3 scored very highly with the Test Team and at just under £470, it is a keenly priced way to get on the ‘Atomic’ ladder. It looks good with the chrome second stage surround, is extremely well made, boasts a silky smooth breathe and has some neat features like the Automatic Flow Control (AFC), which does away with a manual venturi lever, and a black PVD-coated comfort swivel on the hose.



TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 999g | HOSE: rubber | VENTURI: AFC VERDICT: The Z3 performs extremely well, has eye-catching looks and is backed up by that tremendous twoyear/300 dive service interval.



HOLLIS 200LX DCX | SRP: £499.95 Hollis are back on the UK market in a big way, and the flagship 200LX DCX is well worth a look. The 200LX features a braided hose, large venturi lever, chunky cracking resistance control, and has a big purge. It can also be converted from right-hand to left-hand if you so wish. It has five low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports on its DCX first stage. All metal components are have a PVD coating for added durability. As with all Hollis regulators, it comes with a lifetime warranty, only requires a service every two years - and you get service kits free-of-charge for the life of the regulator. As we noted with the 100LX last month, the super-comfy mouthpiece, which is soft but has harder inserts in the ‘bite’, is very reminiscent of Atomic Aquatics. The breathe on the 200LX is smooth and dry in all orientations, and the big, chunky venturi lever and cracking resistance control are both easy to use even wearing drygloves, as is the huge purge, which is effectively the entire front of the second stage. It looks good too, in an understated way with the PVD finish inserts, and I like the redand-black colour scheme.


TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.22kg | HOSE: braided | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: Good-looking regulator with its black-and-red colour scheme. Huge purge, chunky cracking resistance knob and venturi lever, and awesome warranty.




MARES EPIC ADJ 82X | SRP: £545 Mares have given their regulator line-up a serious overhaul for 2019, and the Epic Adj 82X is a formidable unit. The first stage is a solid piece of kit, with natural ‘dynamic flow control’ on all lowpressure ports, which are mounted on a swivel turret, and tilted so you can find that perfect routing. The all-metal second stage has a unique pivoting purge valve, lightweight braided Superflex hose, and a neat ‘twist’ control to boost the flow rate from natural breathing to power breathing, all of which was seen on the Fusion reg. However, the Epic also has a cracking resistance control knob for further fine-tuning of the breathe. Both the first and second stages have an eye-catching PVD coating, which not only looks great but also adds another degree of protection. The Epic Adj 82X put in a strong showing in this Group Test, and if anything, the Test Team felt we had to dial down the air flow it was so powerful. The pivoting purge and ‘motorcycle throttle’ venturi control was again well received, and the Team also liked the cracking resistance control, which although quite small compared with others here was still operable with thick gloves on. Good-looking, great-performing regulator.




TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.29kg | HOSE: braided | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: The unique design of the Epic Adj 82X combined with its great performance and reasonable pricing makes it a seriously good package to consider.




OCEANIC ZEO FDXI | SRP: £539.95 Oceanic are back on the UK market now they are part of Huish Outdoors, and the Zeo is their range-topper. The FDXi first stage is small and compact, yet is still a pneumatically balanced and environmentally sealed diaphragm design, with four lowpressure ports and two high-pressure ports. The Zeo second stage is also pneumatically balanced and features a large venturi lever and big cracking resistance control knob to finetune the breathe. The oval face has a decentsized purge, and a swivel aids comfort in use. The Zeo also benefits from Oceanic’s limited lifetime warranty and ‘free servicing parts for life’. The Zeo certainly stands out from the crowd, thanks both to its unique ovalshaped second stage and its bold white finish (a black version is also available). It is lightweight, so ideal for travelling divers, but equally coped well with this cold-water test, making it a good all-rounder. The large venturi lever and cracking resistance control knob were easy to use with gloved hands, and the purge was effective. A great little reg - and don’t forget that superb limited lifetime warranty.

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 820g | HOSE: braided | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: The Zeo FDXi is a super little regulator, light enough for travel but great in cold water too. Decent-sized controls, comfy mouthpiece and a great warranty.



SCUBAPRO MK25 EVO/A700 | SRP: £679 The A700 - which I christened the ‘King of Bling’ when it was first launched, as that all-metal chromed second stage is certainly an eye-catcher - is still a strong regulator for Scubapro. While being quite compact, the design enables the use of a large diaphragm, increasing breathing sensitivity, and being air-balanced it provides a smooth inhalation effort. For this test it was paired with the proven MK25 EVO flow-through piston first stage, which is fully insulated from the environment by the XTIS (Extended Thermal Insulating System) and has numerous innovative design features to aid cold-water performance. It has two high-pressure ports and five low-pressure ports. The MK25 EVO and the A700 make a solid pairing. The tried-and-tested MK25, now in its improved EVO guise, is compact, durable and efficient, and its works well with the equally compact and robust A700 second stage. Despite being all metal, its small size means it doesn’t feel too heavy in your mouth, and the venturi lever and cracking resistance control knob can be easily operated when wearing gloves, as can the reasonably sized purge button. It gave a smooth breathe in all orientations, and the small exhaust directed the bubbles away from your face.


TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.28kg | HOSE: rubber | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: The MK25 EVO/A700 is a well-made, durable and eye-catching regulator, which has an efficient purge, venturi lever and cracking resistance control.




e h t f o Power

E V A W | @aqualungdivers

HYDRO POWER VENT imp rove s k ic k e ffic ie n c y to ma x imise yo u r e n e rg y

CHANNELING SYSTEM o p t imise s k ic k sta b il it y w it h co n t ro l le d co mfo r t

WAVE RIB TECHNOLOGY p ro p e l s you r p ower a n d p e r fo rm an ce

ZEAGLE F8 | SRP: £539.95 Zeagle have worked with Atomic Aquatics to produce a solidly constructed regulator. The F8 has an environmentally sealed balanced diaphragm first stage made from durable brass, and featuring a precisionmachined neoflon seat. The second stage has a tough nylon case and has a seat-saving orifice, zirconiumplated inlet tube and heat sink for superior corrosion resistance, and a new inhalation diaphragm. The redesigned front cover and cracking resistance control use co-molded components that provide high levels of grip. Zeagle have long been producing topquality BCDs and wings, and now they are well-established in the world of regulators after teaming up with the knowledgeable team at Atomic Aquatics. The first stage of the F8 is a compact but well-made unit, but we have to say that the second stage doesn’t actually look as eye-catching as its cheaper sibling, the Onyx II (which achieved the Choice award last month). No doubting the performance of the F8, though - the breathe was nice and smooth in all positions, the cracking resistance control is large and easy to use, as is the venturi lever, and the mouthpiece is comfortable.


Regulators are something we rely on underwater, so you want to know you can count on it, and none of these regs was found wanting, despite some, shall-wesay, robust testing! When it to the Bast Value Award, it was a close-fought battle between the Aqua Lung Legend Supreme and the Atomic Aquatics Z3. Both regulators performed admirably and coped well with all of the stresses we put them through, but the Z3 just nudged ahead thanks to its good looks, great performance and outstanding warranty and service interval. The Choice Award was another battle royale, with several regulators in the running. The Oceanic, Hollis and Scubapro units all put in a sterling performance, but in the end two regulators stood out from the crowd - the Apeks MTX-R and the Mares Adj 82X. Both effortlessly delivered air whatever we put them through, and both impressed the Test Team in different ways. After much debate, we ended up unable to split the two, and decided they both merited splitting the Choice Award between them.


TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.05kg | HOSE: rubber | VENTURI: yes VERDICT: Overall a decent regulator, with a smooth breathe, comfortable mouthpiece and efficient, easy-to-operate controls.



HOLLIS REGULATOR WARRANTY Our commitment does not end when you buy a Hollis product. Long after your purchase, we provide prompt and professional after-sales service to keep your gear working well and looking good, for a very long time.












30-DAY SATISFACTION GUARANTEE Customers may return their unused product for a full refund within 30 days of the purchase date. Visit HOLLIS.COM for more information.

* To qualify, proof that regulator was serviced according to service interval.




Long Term Test APEKS TECH SHORTS Mark Evans: I love diving in a stripped-back backplate-andwing, or backinflate BCD, as I prefer the unencumbered feel. However, I hate having spools and reels, torches, etc, clipped on to D-rings - I feel like a Christmas tree. But there are no pockets on the BCD. That is where the Tech Shorts come in - slip them on over a wetsuit and hey presto, two large drysuit-style pockets for all your accessories.


INFORMATION Arrival date: March 2019 Suggested retail price: £94 Number of dives: 0 Time in water: 0 hrs 0 mins


Mark Evans: The outer layer of the Finnsub 20D wing is made from robust Cordura 2000, which is described as ‘almost indestructible’ - and I can well believe it. The inner layer is TPU-coated Nylon 420, which is also very durable, but if the worst happened and you had INFORMATION Arrival date: January 2019 an issue, you can easily Suggested retail price: £579 access the interior via the Number of dives: 13 chunky YKK zipper. Time in water: 11 hrs 25 mins 94

Mark Evans: Mares regs traditionally work so well out of the box that there were no ‘divercontrols’ offered in the past, until a nifty venturi ‘throttle’ - how can you tell the designer is a motorcyclist? appeared a few years back. Now that same control is on the Epic Adj, but it also has a cracking resistance control knob too, so those who like to tweak their regs are well covered.

INFORMATION Arrival date: February 2019 Suggested retail price: £545 Number of dives: 8 Time in water: 7 hrs 20 mins

SHEARWATER RESEARCH TERIC Mark Evans: The Teric accompanied me to Sudan for a liveaboard trip, and it performed faultlessly all week. I had my Perdix AI on one wrist and the Teric on the other, and it was amazing how bright the Teric is compared to its big brother. As well as the clarity of the display, I also like the logbook on the Teric, which clearly shows all your dive data, especially the graph of your dive profile.

INFORMATION Arrival date: December 2018 Suggested retail price: £918 Number of dives: 21 Time in water: 20 hrs 25 mins WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


Mark Evans: I have roped regular Scuba Diver contributor Jason Brown into being a ‘guest tester’ for the Otter Watersports Atlantic as he has just recently taken delivery of one. One of the big USPs of the Atlantic is the new pattern, which eliminates underarm seams, and thus is designed to give more flexibility, which is essential for cave divers and technical divers. As Jason ably INFORMATION Arrival date: February 2019 demonstrates, reaching Suggested retail price: £1,560 twinset valves is a doddle Number of dives: 5 in the Atlantic. Time in water: 4 hrs 50 mins


Mark Evans: With the Group Test on regulators being conducted in waters dropping down to 4 degrees C in the depths of Vivian Quarry, I was extremely grateful that I still had the Ultrawarmth hood in our Long Term Test INFORMATION Arrival date: November 2018 family! Even after lengthy Suggested retail price: £64.95 periods underwater, my Number of dives: 26 head was nice and warm. Time in water: 24 hrs 45 mins WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


Mark Evans: The Apeks XL4+ got a good workout in the Red Sea waters off Sudan. The temperature was around 25-26 degrees C, so much warmer than the colder waters it has been used to, but it was a dream to breathe through, even when plunging down to 35-40m in search of sharks, or breathing hard when punching through surging currents to get to the action hotspots. And I INFORMATION Arrival date: February 2019 appreciated its light weight Suggested retail price: £409 to keep down the baggage Number of dives: 24 allowance costs. Time in water: 22 hrs 35 mins

HALCYON INFINITY Mark Evans: The Halcyon Infinity has reached the end of its time in the Long Term Test stable. I have long been a fan of backplate-andwing BCDs, and I like the uncluttered feel around your torso, and the morestreamlined profile they give you when you are in a nice trim position in the water. The Infinity is, as you would expect from Halcyon, robustly constructed and it feels like it would withstand the rigours of hardcore UK diving with ease. Even after 25 dives it looks like new. I also like some of the additional features, like the integrated weight pockets INFORMATION Arrival date: October 2018 and the well-padded Suggested retail price: £777 shoulder straps. All-round Number of dives: 25 a nice wing. Time in water: 24 hrs 15 mins 95

















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THE COMMERCIAL DIVER Warren ‘Sal’ Salliss is a Director of Commercial Diver Training Ltd, based in Cornwall, and here he offers an insight into the commercial diving arena, and how the company aims to ensure that all students leave equipped with the necessary skills to take on this competitive environment.

BE HONEST… IN A CONSTRUCTIVE WAY Warren ‘Sal’ Salliss explains how he and his team aim to give their students the very best entry into this competitive, tough working environment PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF COMMERCIAL DIVER TRAINING


hile thinking about this article, I was a bit pre-occupied with our latest intake of commercial diver students. When the course started, I was confronted with 11 hopefuls, all eager to prove themselves in their newly chosen career, and what struck me was how would I help them become all they wanted to be. We had a whole mix from various backgrounds and abilities, they were all on a monumental journey in their lives, I mean… this is a big deal, a game changer! So how do I help them the most?


If this sounds harsh, let’s look at this from another angle. I look at these guys who are wishing to take their place in an industry that is very unforgiving and, quite frankly, tough. You have to give 100 percent every day, you cannot put minimum effort in, you have to have your act together and my benchmark is quite simple - if I was in trouble deep down in the dark and needed someone to come and get me, could I rely on you? As a diver, I think that’s a pretty valid question, I don’t care what your hobbies are, your aspirations, your beliefs… I just want the best divers with me. So with this in mind, I think this can be a skill set that transfers across to sport diving as well. Is the measure of a good diver his qualification? In some cases, yes. Is it his equipment? How he looks after it definitely, if it’s the most expensive, in my view, no. I love ‘people watching’ at dive sites, you see all kinds of good and bad practices as well as hearing loads of ‘when I’ stories. You all know what I’m on about! We get loads of students who are very qualified but in the water they fall very short of the guy who has a basic qualification, so why is that? It could be because the further up the diving food chain you get, the more your head gets clouded with useless information and /or opinions! A lot of divers forget very basic skills, dive checks, fitness, safety… all very boring, but essential! When I get dressed I have a sequence that I have to follow, by doing that I know nothing has been missed. Before I dive at work we do a ‘call out’ (our version of a buddy check). I do a version to whoever I dive with and I also familiarise myself with my buddy’s kit. Fitness - the most-important piece of equipment you have is you, why go in the water with inferior kit? Look at yourself


and ask ‘could I carry you up a beach to save your life?’ Not all divers look like Captain America (myself included), but strength of mind is key. I served 15 years in the Royal Marines… I would never give up, neither can you if you’re in my team, sorry but that’s simply how it is. I do sometimes think that some divers are delusional about their ability. or simply take it for granted that ‘it’ll be alright, I’m only going shallow’. Does this sound familiar? In the commercial world, we say we are only as good as our last dive, with that in mind we never take for granted our own mortality, or that danger may be just waiting to catch us out. The best thing a diver can do to improve themselves is quite simple… dive! You can learn so much by staying active, keeping your skills up, learning by your mistakes, and learning from other divers (good and bad). Your dives don’t have to be deep, they don’t have to be long or part of a course and I know life is busy in this day and age, but we can all suffer from ‘skills fade’. It would be a great shame if diving was only limited to sunnier climates - UK diving is the best training ground. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a whinge, I am doing what I have to do daily in my job as a commercial diving instructor and supervisor - being honest in a constructive way. We then build on the divers’ skills, and coach them through the course so that they get as much from the experience as possible. Remember, our aim is to make you employable and a true asset to any dive team. If this has struck a chord with you and you can see where I am coming from, then I hope I have helped. Every day is a school day! n


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At Wakatobi Resort, we take great pride in providing the ultimate in exclusive and personalised service. Our dive staff and private guides ensure your in-water experiences are perfectly matched to your abilities and interests. At the resort, or on board our luxury dive yacht Pelagian, you need only ask and we will gladly provide any service or facility within our power. For all these reasons and more, Wakatobi takes top honors among discerning divers and snorkellers.

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Scuba Diver April Issue  

In this issue we talk about the Maldives, Scapa, Solomons, Indonesia, Chantelle Newman Q&A and Regs over £400

Scuba Diver April Issue  

In this issue we talk about the Maldives, Scapa, Solomons, Indonesia, Chantelle Newman Q&A and Regs over £400