Scuba Diver January 19 - Issue 23

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Andy Torbet goes 360

‣ Socorro Islands ‣ South Africa WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


Co m e a board an Aggres s or

ot he r s ide

of d i v i n g ,



L i ve a boa rd ® a n d w e w ill s h ow you

M a cro D i m ens io n.

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• Bahamas • Belize • Cayman Islands • Cocos Island, Costa Rica • Cuba • • Dominican Republic • Egypt • Fiji • Galapagos • Hawaii • Indonesia • Maldives • Mexico • • Oman • Palau • Red Sea • Roatan • Sri Lanka • Thailand • Turks & Caicos •

EDITOR’S NOTE SCUBA DIVER IS GOING NAKED IN 2019! It’s been almost two years since we started publishing Scuba Diver magazine and thanks to your loyal support, it’s been nothing short of an overwhelming success. The majority of major dive stores, dive retailers, manufacturers, dive clubs, universities, and dive-centric accommodation are stocking the magazine in the UK, Ireland and Malta and Gozo. In fact, we had to stop stocking airport lounges in the last couple of months to keep up with the demand from clubs wanting the magazine. In a similar fashion, we’re now having to reduce the number of copies we send to our distribution partners to ensure we have enough magazines to give to each distribution point. Why don’t we just print more, I hear you ask. We’re able to print our magazine and keep it free for you, the reader, thanks to the amazing support of our advertising partners, who are keen to present their brands to you. To increase our print run we’d have to push up their advertising rates, which means we might loss some partners because we’re not competitive enough. This would jeopardise the publication’s viability, so we decided the best course of action would be to share what we currently have. If you want more copies for your centre or club, there will be the option to purchase bundles at cost price. Magazines work out at £3 per ten copies plus postage (only if there is an increase) and would be paid annually. Contact for further information. Secondly, as part of our Mission 2020 promise, we said we’d remove as much plastic from our subscriber mailings as possible, so our UK subscribers will notice that in 2019 we’ve joined the BSAC club magazine and ‘gone naked’. We hope the magazine arrives to you with as little damage as possible, however, if you have any issues and need a replacement copy, contact our subscriptions team, who will be more than happy to post a new copy out to you.

Mark Evans Editor-in-Chief


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


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Jeremy Cuff, Martyn Guess, Andy Torbet, Byron Conroy, Michele Westmorland Ross Arnold Tel: 0800 0 69 81 40 ext 701 Email:


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Rork Media Limited Tel: 0800 069 8140 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, England, WC2H 9JQ Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the publishers. Copyright for material published remains with Rork Media Limited. Use of material from Scuba Diver is strictly prohibited unless permission is given. All advertisements of which the creative content is in whole or in part the work of Rork Media Limited remain the copyright of Rork Media Limited. is a registered trademark of Rork Media.

ISSN 2514-2054













Andy Torbet goes 360

‣ Socorro Islands ‣ South Africa WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


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21/12/2018 10:26



6 News

20 Andy Torbet goes 360

26 Dive Like A Pro

30 Egypt

The tragic deaths of over 200 whales in Australia and New Zealand, a stark warning from BDMLR, and a new luxury liveaboard for Pelagic Fleet.

This issue, our panel of industry training gurus explain how to nail your navigation, and give some inside tricks of the trade.

46 The Next Generation

The TV presenter and adventurer takes on an epic challenge - to film a 360-degree virtual reality short in the depths of the cave systems of France. He wisely enlisted Rich Stevenson and Phil Short to assist.

American photojournalist Michele Westmorland had visited the Deep South and offshore marine parks of the Egyptian Red Sea on her initial foray to this part of the world, but this was the first time she had explored wrecks like the Thistlegorm, and the epic reefs of Tiran.

Huish Outdoor’s Justin Hanning’s daughter Carys finally gets certified, plus two more Case Studies and the Mares Scuba Ranger wetsuit combo.

38 ABOVE 18m: Jersey

64 Underwater Photographer

42 Q&A: Mehgan Heaney-Grier

Martyn Guess discusses composition, and offers some hints and advice on how to make your underwater images ‘pop’.


Jeremy Cuff decides to complete a shallow UK dive with a difference when he ventures to the Channel Islands and Jersey’s Bouley Bay.

Candid chat with the Discovery Channel presenter, Hollywood stunt double, adventurer, freediving champion and ‘Mom’, who will be appearing on the Main Stage at the GO Diving show in February.



...CONTINUED 49 GO Diving Exhibitor Guide

Handy A-to-Z guide to all of the exhibitors that will be showcasing their wares at the GO Diving show at the Ricoh Arena in February.

58 Mexico

Jeremy Cuff extols the virtues of the Socorro archipelago in Mexico - a remote set of islands known as the ‘Mexican Galapagos’ - which he thinks provide a stunning window to an underwater era from another time.

70 South Africa

Damian Groves is left speechless when an already epic trip to dive the legendary Sardine Run in South Africa took an unexpected turn - with the arrival of a pod of orca.

76 TECHNICAL: Indonesia

Byron Conroy is amazed at the wonders that lie beyond recreational depths in the Bunaken Marine Park, including coral-smothered abyssal walls and even the odd shipwreck.


GEAR GUIDE 82 What’s New

New products recently released, including Fourth Element’s Gulper water bottle, Finnsub BANG dive lights, the innovative Tank Trolley, Ratio’s iDive Colour dive computers, and Apeks T-shirts.

84 Test Extra Special

In-depth Test Extras on a range of products, including the well-specced Aqua Lung i770 dive computer, Seiko’s special-edition PADI dive watch, technologically advanced Bare Ultrawarmth gloves and base layers, and the Apeks XL4+ cold-water regulator.

94 Long Term Test

The Scuba Diver Test Team rates and reviews a selection of products over a six-month period, including the Aqua Lung Rogue, Zeagle Scope Mono and the Shearwater Research Teric.


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)



More than 200 whales tragically died after separate mass stranding events in the space of seven days across Australia and New Zealand. First, some 145 pilot whales died after a mass stranding on a beach on Stewart Island in New Zealand on Saturday 24 November. They were discovered by a walker, but by then, half of the whales washed up on Mason Bay were already dead, and the authorities had to euthanise the remainder as it would have been too difficult to try and get them back in the water. “Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low,” explained Ren Leppens of the regional Department of Conservation (DOC). “The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most-humane thing to do was to euthanise. However, it’s always a heart-breaking decision to make.” On the same weekend in New Zealand, a 15-metre sperm whale and a pod of 12 pygmy whales were also beached. Four of the latter were dead, but local marine mammal charity Project Jonah made valiant efforts to save the remaining eight. Sadly, seven of these animals also died. Then on Wednesday 28 November, another 27 pilot whales – as well as a humpback whale – were found dead on a remote beach in Australia. Finally, on Friday 30 November, some 80-90 pilot whales were found stranded in Hanson Bay on the remote Chatham Islands, 500 miles east of New Zealand. According to New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, some managed to refloat themselves, but 50 were found dead and one had to be euthanised. Tests were being conducted on the dead mammals to see if scientists could shed any light on why so many stranded in such a short period of time, all in the same region.



BDMLR ISSUES STARK WARNING AS SERIOUSLY ILL SEAL PUP DIES FOLLOWING HARASSMENT Marine animal rescue charities British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary are appealing to members of the public to keep their distance from seal pups they find on the beach, and to refrain from touching or moving them as they could be weak, ill or injured. The warning comes after a seriously ill grey seal pup died after being harassed into the sea by members of the public recently at Nanjizel, near Land’s End, Cornwall, while RSPCA officers were already on the way to help. On arrival the pup had already gone but was reported to have had a large amount of blood around her mouth by others who saw her. Two days later she was found again, and this time two of BDMLR’s trained volunteer Medics managed to reach her. “When we got down to her on the beach there was a feeling something was very wrong” commented BDMLR Veterinary Support Co-ordinator Natalie Waddington. “She was draped over the rocks as if she had just been washed up and left behind rather than hauling up there by herself. Her mouth was bloody and badly infected and there were two deep injuries to the right side of her head, one of them into her eye socket, that were also infected and very swollen. She was also severely malnourished for her age, which was only around six weeks old”. The rescuers rushed her to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, but despite the best possible care and treatment from the team there, her health continued to decline overnight, and the difficult decision was made to put her to sleep. “If she had been rescued a couple of days earlier when she was first reported, she would have had a much better chance of survival. Instead, she was forced to starve and suffer because of human actions, no matter how well-intentioned they may have thought they were,” said Dan Jarvis, BDMLR’s Welfare Development and Field Support Officer. Seals haul out on land to rest and digest food normally, but throughout Winter very young pups finding their way in the world often end up coming out on to public beaches. Sometimes they are healthy and just resting before deciding when they are ready to go back out, but on other occasions they can be very poorly and need help. BDMLR and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary are now once again urging people who find a pup on the beach to keep their distance, don’t touch or move it, keep dogs under control on a lead and to call for advice and assistance on the BDMLR hotline: 01825 765546. “In the last few years there has been in increasing number of incidents not just in Cornwall but in many parts of the country where hauled-out seals have been chased or harassed into the sea as well as being attacked by dogs – both intentionally and unintentionally,” Dan added. “The story of this seal, the traumatic final days she was forced to endure and the sad circumstances that led to her death I feel strongly should not be left untold. I would urge beach users to please join the call to help spread the advice we provide as much as they can, so that we can at least try to find something good that can come of this awful incident and give this pup’s life and death some meaning”.


True exploration in the heart of Bunaken Marine Park

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


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

OBITUARY: JOHN WOMACK SENIOR The diving industry is mourning the loss of one of its father figures after the sad news that Otter Watersports supremo John Womack Senior lost his long battle with illness on Friday 30 November. Many luminaries of the diving world were quick to share their memories of John Senior. Acclaimed tech and cave diver Phil Short said: “A truly great man, a true gentleman of the world of diving”, while Aqua Lung’s Dean Martin commented: “I have known John Senior for over 20 years, and he was always upbeat in his typical Yorkshire way. He always had time for everyone, and the old stories he used to tell about diving back in the day”, and Fourth Element’s Jim Standing recalled: “John epitomised the spirit of entrepreneurship at the heart of the British dive manufacturing industry, and he was generous with words of support for a fledgling business when we began, and encouragement as we grew”. John Womack Senior was a long-standing member of Bradford Sub Aqua Club, joining way back in 1972, working his way up to First Class Diver and Advanced Instructor by 1979. He was a key influence in the club, being Diving Officer in the 1970s and then Chairman for a period, and he received Life Membership in 2014 in recognition of his long years of service. In 1986, he set up Otter Watersports and Divers Warehouse in Bradford, and soon after his wife, sons and daughter joined him to make it a truly family business. Otter drysuits have since grown to become a staple part of the dive kit of many explorers and adventurers pushing the boundaries of their chosen discipline, be that cave diving, wreck diving or just exploratory deep diving. John Senior wasn’t one to sit on the sidelines, either, and over the years he dived many iconic tech wrecks, including the Britannic, Victoria, Prince of Wales and the Repulse. In 2010, he deservedly received the Eurotek ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Diving Industry’ award, of which the citation read: ‘the unsung hero that has gone the extra mile to support and develop others in the fields of advanced and technical diving’. Scuba Diver Editor-in-Chief Mark Evans said: “I only had the pleasure of meeting John Senior face-to-face on a handful of occasions, but he always had time for a chat, regaling me with tales of derring do from his colourful past, but equally, always wanting to hear what I had been up to. The first time I ever saw him was back in the day, when I still lived in York and Divers Warehouse was one of my nearest dive shops, often frequented by myself and my uncle (who got me into diving all those years ago). Who would have thought back then that 20-odd years later, I would be involved in the diving industry and be proud to call John Senior – and his son, John Womack Junior – a friend. Our condolences go out to John Junior and the rest of the family at this time.”




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NEW 2019 CALENDAR FROM JEREMY AND AMANDA CUFF Photographers, photojournalists and regular Scuba Diver (UK and Asia-Pacific) contributors Jeremy and Amanda Cuff have published a new 2019 calendar titled Diving Dreams. Jeremy said: “The Diving Dreams 2019 Calendar features a variety of images, mostly from our dive travels over recent times, and includes destinations such as Ustica, Bali, Egypt, Guadalupe, Montserrat, the Maldives and the UK.” The 2019 calendar can be obtained from Jeremy and Amanda at a cost of £9, including postage (within the UK). For further information, please visit Jeremy and Amanda’s website: The website features a wide selection of photography and articles with particular emphasis on scuba diving and travel, although other topics such as abstracts and black and white photography are also included.

MARINE MEGAFAUNA FOUNDATION LAUNCHES 2019 DIVE EXPEDITION PORTFOLIO The Marine Megafauna Foundation – a charity that aims to save threatened marine life – has unveiled dates of its 2019 scuba-diving expeditions to Mozambique, where guests can join expert marine biologists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation and get hands-on with ground-breaking research. On these adventurous expeditions for advanced divers, you’ll explore the southern coast of Mozambique, one of the world’s most-sought-after diving locations, and visit sites not open to the public. Mozambique is home to a unique ecosystem; possible sightings include a mobula cleaning station (one of two known worldwide), turtles, dolphins, humpback whales and reef sharks. The exclusive seven-day expeditions, which run from 15-23 June 2019 and 17-25 August 2019, can accommodate up to five guests, so your trip is as intimate as your megafauna encounters. Guests will have the chance to get hands-on by taking ID photos during boatbased and aerial surveys. Both mantas and whalesharks have spot patterns as unique as a fingerprint, allowing the team to build a photographic catalogue. You’ll also learn to identify an animal’s maturity and gender and record environmental conditions. You’ll also have the opportunity to gain deeper knowledge, and this is a unique chance to learn the secrets of MMF’s marine biologists, who have spent 15 years studying ocean giants, and find out everything you’ve always been curious about. Fascinating private talks will reveal the biology, ecology and behaviour of manta rays and whalesharks, outline global threats to them and describe research and conservation efforts around the world. You can also take part in extra activities outside of the water, such as Tofo Life, a remarkable experience where you’ll meet locals in a nearby village, see their way of life and make a traditional dish with them. Your MEGA Expedition will fund MMF’s vital research and help to save ocean giants from extinction, and by booking this trip of a lifetime, you’ll be changing lives both in and out of the ocean in Mozambique.



SUUNTO EON CORE EXPLORE MORE The compact Suunto EON Core is a great dive companion whether you are just beginning diving or an active diver exploring new depths. The key details of your dive are easy to read from the clear colour display with large, prominent digits and intuitive menu logic. This fully-featured and customisable dive computer is your reliable partner no matter if you're exploring shipwrecks or admiring the colourful marine life.

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For more information call 01420 587272 Discover Moves at @SuuntoDivingUK and at


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CRABBERS’ WHARF How do you fancy staying in a land-locked ship next time you are down for a diving trip to Portland? Well, with Crabbers’ Wharf, that is exactly what you’ll get – at least on the visual front! This award-winning self-catering holiday accommodation enjoys uninterrupted sea views of Portland Harbour and Weymouth. The nine modern and unique cabins (which can sleep anywhere from two to eight people) inside the eyecatching exterior each have king-sized beds, en-suites, kitchen and living areas, and private sea-view balconies. There is also free allocated parking, and WiFi. Finding things to do locally won’t be a problem, as Crabbers’ Wharf houses a Tourist Information Centre on the ground floor (which also doubles up as a reception for guests). Weather-dependent, there is a ferry service operating from outside the building over to Weymouth, the interesting D-Day Centre is a stone’s throw away, and there are a host of dive centres, dive charters and other diverelated businesses in the surrounding vicinity.



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


Increasing both their team of experts and their product range, Diverse Travel is delighted to announce three new highly-skilled members to the line-up. Joining the already impressive team of Holly Hawkins, Jim Yanny, Cary Yanny and Kirsty Scopes will be sales manager John Butland, and sales executives Helena Nawar and Simon Slater. John, Helena and Simon have over 34 years’ experience in the dive travel industry gained at Cambridgeshire-based Regaldive. “Experience, knowledge, strong customer-service; all are highly sought-after skills that John, Helena and Simon bring in abundance to Diverse Travel,” says Director Jim Yanny. “Our product portfolio will also increase as we mine their knowledge and offer customers even more in the way of dive destinations and know-how.” New offices in Cambridgeshire will complement the existing office in Ipswich. Renowned for their personal service and tailor-made holidays, Diverse Travel has been taking people on worldwide holidays for years. This experienced team creates the perfect holiday - the vast majority of locations are personally known to them so you get exactly what you’re looking for.






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“Once we tried it, we had to share it with you,” explains Luke Atkinson, Emperor Divers’ Red Sea General Manager. “The freedom of diving with sidemount is an experience for all divers.” Sidemount diving is growing fast and becoming a popular choice because of the ease with which you can kit up and dive. Emperor Divers asked many of their guests who dived with sidemount if they would ever go back to the backplate and the majority reply was ‘never!’ Divers can add a second tank for more gas, more balance and more redundancy; either way, sidemount is a winner with one tank or two. Emperor Divers Red Sea has the full range of options for divers, whether you’re sidemount-trained or not: • PADI Sidemount Specialty with professional instructors to learn and certify in the new gear • Gear rental for further sidemount exploration • Exclusive deal for Emperor guests - 15% off any xDeep gear purchased • Sidemount/extra tank rental if divers have their own gear “This is a great chance to try something new. We tried it, we loved it, you will too!” concludes Luke.



Heralding a long-awaited return to dedicated Solomon Islands small ship cruise programmes, newly-formed Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises (SIDC) has announced its plans to operate six adventure itineraries in 2019. Operating ex-Honiara and timed to dovetail with Solomon Airlines’ Brisbane-Honiara services, SIDC has employed the 30-metre MV Taka to operate the six and seven-day cruises, each of which have been designed to highlight two of the South Pacific’s truly unspoiled and culturally-rich regions – the Florida and Russell Islands archipelagos in Solomon Islands. Passengers will have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in both region’s distinctive cultures and environments. The cruise itineraries feature visits to remote villages along with plentiful opportunity to discover the region’s amazing coral pastures and abundant marine life with daily dive and snorkel options.







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PADI EMEA ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH DIVERS ALERT NETWORK (DAN) EUROPE PADI EMEA, part of the world’s largest divetraining organisation, and Divers Alert Network (DAN) Europe, the diving industry’s largest association dedicated to scuba diving safety, has announced a partnership to offer professional liability insurance to PADI members in the EMEA territories. DAN membership will include Professional Indemnity and Personal Accident Insurance with €4 million professional liability cover, per occurrence with cover valid worldwide, all year round. It will also include access to the renowned DAN specialised multi-lingual hotline 24/7, as well as unlimited cover in case of hyperbaric treatment and repatriation. Additional assistance and cover are provided for non-diving medical emergencies abroad (travel insurance). DAN will be offering PADI Professional members the Pro Silver package for the price of Bronze. A special additional DAN insurance cover for dive accidents involving students attending PADI courses will be included for PADI Discover Scuba Diving, PADI Open Water, PADI Advanced Open Water, Basic Freediver, Freediver and Advanced Freediver training courses. Mark Spiers, Vice President, Training, Sales and Field Services, PADI EMEA, commented: “PADI holds diver safety and education at its core with comprehensive liability protection being critical for dive professionals today. Having insurance coverage when a dive accident occurs during training can make the difference between being properly defended or being financially ruined even when, as is usually the case, you have done nothing wrong. We are excited to recognise DAN’s commitment to diver safety through this partnership.” Whether you plan to dive once a year or once a day, DAN membership and insurance are just as essential for dive safety as PADI training. Maintaining current liability insurance is not only important risk management, but it is also required in many (although not all) areas in order to remain in teaching status.



To find out more, why not visit us for Aptitude Day? Experience a Surface Supplied Dive, view the Facilities and meet the Training Team Please visit the website for more details 2019 Course Dates available 01726 817128 | 07900 844141


Pelagic fleet has added a new member to its line of signature vessels. The new Socorro Vortex is the fastest and most-exclusive liveaboard to travel to the Socorro and Guadalupe Islands, with a top speed in excess of 20 knots. The 43-metre boat – which is a former Canadian coastguard vessel – was built for adventure and hardcore worldwide expeditions. Now though, she’s been reinvented to be the ‘ultimate’ luxury liveaboard experience. The Socorro Vortex will cater to 14 guests and offer first-class, deluxe accommodation. It also features complimentary high-speed internet and WiFi for those divers who need to be connected at all times. Other complimentary benefits include gourmet dining, complimentary bar, nitrox (as this is a nitrox-only vessel) and a stainless steel jacuzzi. Oh, and did we mention? It has a helipad too. And they handpick their beer and wines… Those booking onto the Socorro Vortex are likely to see giant mantas, dolphins and ten-plus species of shark and much more. There’ll be one Divemaster to every five divers. Voyages to Guadalupe run from August to October, while trips to Socorro run from November to June.



Magmadive Expeditions, Iceland

ICELAND Multi day dive expeditions all over Iceland including Silfra fissure




MEDICAL Q&A Dr Oliver Firth has gained considerable experience in the field of diving and hyperbaric medicine since joining LDC in 2006. He is an Approved Medical Examiner of Divers for the UK HSE, and a medical referee for the UK Sport Diving Medical Committee. He is involved in the management of all types of diving-related illness, including recompression treatment, as well as providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy for nondiving conditions. He remains a passionate diver and has participated in various expeditions and conservation projects throughout the globe. Q: I went on a 23m, 50-minute dive about two weeks ago. The profile was fine, I didn’t yo-yo, didn’t come up too quickly and did my stop at 5m for well over three minutes. When I came up, I had a numb mouth (top quarter) including teeth, my sinus then started to hurt and then when I got back to the hotel, I had the most terrible headache for three days. I phoned the doctors on my return to the UK, approximately two weeks ago, and they thought it was no great problem, but advised that I should come in if I was worried. I decided that I wasn’t that worried and that the symptoms would go away of their own accord. Today, my problem is that the numbness still exists, though the facial aches and the headaches have gone. Any thoughts? A: This is an unusual story but similar cases have been reported in the past. The explanation is probably this. Your maxillary sinus is an air space that sits in your cheek, just below the eye socket. For some reason on this dive, the air inside got trapped and caused some damage to the sinus, most likely as it expanded on ascent. There is a nerve that passes through a canal just under the eye, called the infra-orbital nerve, and I suspect that the expanding gas put some pressure on it, bruising it. This nerve supplies sensation to the teeth and upper gums, as well as part of the nose and upper lip. So in essence this is much like bashing your funny bone – a bruised nerve can’t carry its normal sensory messages, so numbness is the result. Fortunately, sensory nerves tend to heal fully, but it does take time, usually several weeks. So don’t panic just yet. By all means see your dentist just to check there is nothing wrong with the teeth that might be affecting the nerve too, but I reckon things will sort themselves out if left alone.


Q: Is there some sort of guide as to how quickly alcohol is eliminated from your system? I appreciate everyone is different and some people seem to be able to handle much more than others, but I’d like to be able to estimate how long it takes for me to be alcohol-free after one beer, two beers, eight beers… If one or two post-dive drinks turns into a big binge night, at least I can then make an educated guess as to when it’s safe to dive again. A: Good question. There are rough guides to the rate of alcohol detoxification, but it varies a lot from person to person. Age – elimination rates slow as we get older. Gender – females clear alcohol faster than males, although the increased body fat/smaller size of women lead to higher blood alcohol levels. Race or ethnicity – alcohol is broken down by a liver enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. Levels vary between races, being high in Europeans and sometimes almost non-existent in Asians or those from the Americas. Physical condition – the rate of alcohol elimination varies with weight, and increased physical fitness will speed it up to some extent. Amount of food consumed before drinking – food slows down the absorption of alcohol. How quickly the alcohol was consumed – multiple shots or drinking games may overwhelm the liver, which can only process one drink per hour. Use of drugs or prescription medicines – these can often interact with alcohol and exacerbate its effects. Having said all that, the average human with an intact liver will burn up about one unit of alcohol every hour. A pint of 5% beer these days is nearing three units, so reckon three hours per pint for full clearance. It soon adds up.


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28/11/2016 10:14

Next issue available 10th Feb


Byron Conroy continues his Indonesian exploration, this time visiting the luxurious award-winning Siladen Resort and Spa






The renowned shipwreck explorer, technical diver and underwater photographer talks about some of his pioneering exploits around the globe Stuart Philpott ventures on a safari adventure to the Similan Islands, home to myriad marine life from tiny ghost pipefish to huge whalesharks


We visit a shipwreck lying in the shallows off the Isle of Wight on the South Coast Jeremy and Amanda Cuff are massive fans of Aggressor Fleet liveaboards’ ‘Family Weeks’ and have been on several with their son Zac As the Test Team gets over the Christmas excess, and the water temperatures head south, it is time to rate and review regs! First up, budgets models.


CA VE DIVING Andy Torbet loves a challenge, so when Suunto threw down the gauntlet for him to produce a 360-degree VR short film, he decided to try something different, and headed off underground in France with his crack team of cave-diving specialists PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICH STEVENSON


’ve mentioned in previous articles that one of the biggest problems we face in film-making involving technical diving is light. Whether you’re 100m deep in the English Channel or only 100 metres inside an underwater cave or flooded mine, light is in short supply. And it’s essential when the camera rolls. This problem is difficult enough to deal with when shooting conventionally, when we film with a single camera, in a single direction and the camera-operator can see what they’re filming. But suddenly none of this applies when you go 360. And it’s not the only problem you face trying to shoot in all directions at once… while underwater… and underground. I had been tasked by Suunto to produce a film for people to view, either on their smartphone or using VR goggles like the Oculus Go, which let them discover a different world, a world few get to see. This wasn’t just aimed at divers, but at the general public to promote and inspire people about the possibilities and spectacle of the submerged realm. I believe the virtue of 360 is to transport someone to a place they could otherwise never experience. I’ve seen previous underwater 360 films produced on tropical reefs or surrounded by sharks in shallow waters off a Caribbean island. These are brilliant… but… you can see these things with the most-basic diving qualification, or even just a snorkel. They are also relatively easy to film as the natural light that filters into the first few metres of clear blue sea illuminate everything equally well.


But to date no one had taken on the challenges of trying to create a film to transport the viewer into a world very few people, even divers, get to see – I decided to go cave diving. I expected to need a great deal of experimentation to work out how to light each scene, decide on camera position and how the divers would move through frame. Going somewhere unknown would have added to the burden. The caves of the Lot region of France are well known to British cave divers, are easy to reach from home and have enough choice to offer something in good condition, regardless of recent weather. I brought in Rich Stevenson, my friend and the cameraman I use most often on technical dive shoots. He knows the caves of France well, has experience filming 360, is always up for the challenge of solving new underwater filming problems, and we’ve shot a lot together in some very dark places across the world. We also needed a third diver to wield equipment, to help light the scenes and act as the third ‘star’ of our film. Phil Short knows the French caves even better than Rich and has been involved in filming operations in recent years. And the fact we can all spend four days travelling and seven days living together without killing each other is a factor that should never be overlooked when putting a team together. The camera rig would be set up on dry land and was then sealed in a housing. This meant there wasn’t the option to adjust any settings, like aperture or ISO, that you’d normally have control over with a conventional underwater filming


A surprising comment thrown up by some non-divers was that the sequences where the rig was hand-held made them feel a little disorientated and long sequences like this, or too many, would make them feel a bit sick



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camera. All we could do was press Record and Stop. So, Rich’s main task was less as a camera-man and more as a light-man as the influence over what was visible and what was not, whether it was under-lit or over-exposed and how each scene wold look, would all have to be controlled by the number, power and placement of the underwater filming lights… and where the divers shone their torches and moved through frame. The type of specialist rig also meant we couldn’t view, either live or in playback, what had been shot until we were clear of the water and had dismantled the housing and cameras. It’s difficult for a director and, even more so, a cameraman to work when they cannot see what’s being shot. But I could describe in detail how I wanted the overall film to look and feel and then describe each scene, with storyboards, to match the film I had pre-edited in my head. The mechanics of the problems that come with shooting 360 in a pitch-dark cave was not my, the director’s, problem. Underwater, it would be Rich’s job to makes these difficult shots actually work. After some recces and dives in other sites, we chose to concentrate on Emergence du Ressel. It is arguably the mostpopular and well-known cave-dive in France and was in the best condition of any site at the time. It is unusual in that you dive into a river to find the entrance/exit in the riverbed. It has a number of roomy passages, which gave us the working space we needed, large chambers and some vertical drops. The film only needed to be about five minutes long, but we needed enough variety to keep people interested and show them the real wonder of diving a cave like this. We had two methods for filming – hand-holding the rig while swimming, or having it stationary on a weighted Andy inspects the 360 camera

Heading into the cave to the next ‘location’


Kitting up for a test dive

The dive team approach the 360 camera rig

Andy scooters pass the camera

tripod. The first full day was treated as a trial day. We’d experiment with as many lighting configurations in as many different areas as possible. Without the ability to see what we were filming, we’d have to make educated guesses then check the results during the surface interval. I had expected to write off the first two days at least just figuring out roughly the best way to set up each shot. Once we knew this we’d go back and film each scene using slight variations on these solutions to give us a spread of options to choose from. As it was, Rich got pretty close to perfect on the first day, his time away from filming documentaries working on dramas, commercials and feature films in underwater studios, where ‘stage lighting’ is part of the set-up, coming in very useful.


And the fact we can all spend four days travelling and seven days living together without killing each other is a factor that should never be overlooked when putting a team together

Andy venturing into the next section of cave

We did up to three dives a day, most about two hours long, as we were restricted by the battery life of the camera-rig and lights. We also didn’t want to shoot too much without reviewing it so we could apply any successes to other scenes, or limit the effect of any mistakes. Between dives we’d recharge the kit, review the footage as best we could (we couldn’t view it in full 360 on site), eat, drink and debrief. Then we’d plan GODiving and brief the next dive in detail and get back in. See Andy Torbet at the brand-new Each scene had to be planned interactive dive show GO Diving to ensure that, although the action at the Ricoh Arena on 23-24 Working in adventure and would always be where the divers February 2019! Early bird tickets underwater media can look like an were, there was still something to available now from: awful lot of fun from the outside. see and discover no matter where you However, this isn’t always the case. looked. This meant choosing parts where There can be highs, but also many lows. passageways met, making sure we spread But with the interest created by having to out in the larger chambers, or moved in a line actively overcoming new technical challenges, with the camera hand-held by the middle diver. a great product produced at the end, the chance to Even the distance between divers and the speed we work in one of the finest dive sites in Europe and the chance swam had to be considered in order to show the scale, shape to do it all with your friends… well… this one was exactly as and orientation of the distinctive tunnels, shafts and rooms. much fun as it looks from the outside. In fact, more. The editing process was also more involved than a conventional film. First, all the clips had to be stitched So whether you’re a cave diver who wants to have a look at together and their alignment corrected. Then, like a normal the famous Ressel, a diver who is thinking of venturing into edit, I’d go through all the clips and choose the ones I needed. Lighting effects I also tested some shots on divers and non-divers to see which are all-important ones had the most impact. A surprising comment thrown up by some non-divers was that the sequences where the rig was hand-held made them feel a little disorientated and long sequences like this, or too many, would make them feel a bit sick. After having viewed everything in 360, I’d sent back the list of which parts or which clips I wanted in which order and the editor assembled the final film. After a confirmatory viewing, to make sure everything flowed well, he did the final polishing (adjusting levels, colours, contrast and adding music and titles) and the film was done.


The 360 camera rig was compact and relatively easy to transport

cave-diving, or someone, diver and non-diver alike, who just wants a glimpse into this alien realm from the comfort of your own home, go to the Suunto Diving UK Vimeo Page and search for Suunto 360 Cave Video ( You can watch it with any smartphone, preferably in the dark, but to see it in all its glory, the full 4K film will be available to watch on VR headsets on the Suunto stand at the Go Diving show at the Ricoh Arena on 23/24 February 2019 ( n




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Our panel of experts discuss how to navigate like a pro – or at least how to look like you know what you’re doing with a compass! PHOTOGRAPHS BY JASON BROWN AND GARRY DALLAS


ave Lock, BSAC’s Instructor Training Group Leader, said: “There are lots of ways to get lost underwater, however some divers seem to have an infallible instinct for returning to the surface in the right place. Constantly using a compass to navigate is not only boring but distracts from your dive. It’s a useful instrument, and most divers own one, but many don’t know how to use it. “Dive agencies teach the use of a compass for straight line exercises but how many times do you dive just following a compass, or just swim in a straight line? Another way to navigate is pilotage, but combine this with compass navigation and you’ll look like a pro. “Pilotage is using features of the underwater scene such as parts of a wreck, sand ripples or recognisable features of a reef. Wrecks that remain ‘wreck shaped’ are easy to follow around the edges and you can move to the centre if you identify a major part of it so you can return to it. Using a compass on a steel wreck is not going to work too well, so you’ll need to use pilotage in this case. “Sand ripples can indicate the direction of onshore waves or of the prevailing tidal stream. This can indicate the direction of the shore or, if you get it wrong, the way to a long swim back. In warmer waters the reef wall is an easily recognisable feature, along with large coral outcrops. “So how do you use your compass in these scenarios? You could just use it to swim in a general direction with an occasional glance to indicate that you’re swimming in the correct direction. You could also take a bearing on a distant visible item and then use the reciprocal to get back to your starting point. Using a series of these will allow a complex route and return to be made. Of course, if your memory is


like mine, you’ll need to write these down. Some computers have an integral electronic compass that can be used to set a direction and will remember the course so you can easily return on the reciprocal. “We’ve not mentioned distance, another important factor to underwater navigation. The use of a dive computer for timing is a standard way to estimate distance swam so an approximate return can be made using the same timing information. “So what do you do when you get lost – cheat, of course! If the dive is not too provocative you can surface to check your way home. Otherwise, put up a DSMB and await getting picked up and pretend it was in your plan in the first place…” RAID UK and Malta Director of Training Garry Dallas said: “You don’t need courage, ego or adrenaline to be able to lead your friends competently and safely on a dive, use a compass, it just takes technique, trust and practice! “As an avid, scenic reef diver, you may become familiar with certain objects, shapes and surroundings as you frequent your dive site, this builds a confidence that is rarely surpassed, except when night falls or visibility deteriorates. Here’s when that tiny bit of equipment comes in very handy. “When we don’t know how to do something properly, it prevents us practicing, lack of practice prevents us from using it, so learn to use a compass properly, it’s very gratifying!


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Some divers have an infallible instinct for returning to the surface in the right place

“Your buddies will be amazed when you can navigate them to a site and back again efficiently! Learn to trust your compass readings, follow it exactly to the mark, especially if you feel the onset of narcosis. “Mid-water compass use is especially useful, when you don’t feel the effects of actually getting anywhere, commonly when you feel the need to ascend to a shallower depth to conserve gas. Trust your compass! “Keeping your kit streamlined is important too. I found a particularly useful place to mount my compass was on the back of your hand using a bungee mount, with the forward loop crossing over the rear loop and over the thumb. It can be pulled back over the wrist and left on your forearm when not needed and easily pulled over the wrist to be deployed. The bonus about this method, it keeps the palm of your hand and all your digits free. The double bonus is, you can alter the window of your compass to suit you by adjusting the bungees on the fly.”


IANTD’s Tim Clements commented: “Some might say the best way to navigate like a pro is to get your students to do it all! That doesn’t really cut the mustard in terms of supervisory responsibility. Others might get super intense about compass work, but this is only one tool among many we can use underwater. The skill of a pro is to be able to stitch all the techniques together to be able to cope with plan A, plan B and still get back safely. “The first key skill is planning. Be very familiar with the site, other info, tidal currents and the weather outlook. Make sure you have a good gas plan for contingencies or additional swimming. During the dive, be proficient with pilotage (natural features) and a very competent compass user. It is too late to figure out a compass when you are lost! The overall skill is awareness. Keep checking your status, the team status and the dive / plan status. Early warning of issues is key to avoiding navigational issues.


“One excellent tip is to look backwards as you swim out. This is the view you need to see on the way home...” Mark Powell from TDI said: “Where’s the boat? Did we pass this part of the reef already? Should we just go up? Whether it happens to a new diver or an experienced one, there will more than likely come a time where navigating underwater will become difficult. For a new diver who’s excited to experience the underwater world without an instructor, the difficulty might come when it’s time to head back to the boat, or when the buddy team gets turned around. An experienced diver might have trouble when diving in a new place where conditions are not what they are used to. This is when being not only being able to navigate underwater with a compass comes in handy, but when other methods of navigation can and should be utilised as well. 1. Know your compass - A diver should know what the parts of a compass are and what they are used for. 2. Listen to the boat briefing, or ask a dive shop about a particular shore site - Knowing a bit more about the orientation at any given site will help you with navigating. 3. Elect and follow a leader - When planning a dive within a buddy team you’ll want to delegate a person as the

but good navigation is an art, it is only by spending time in the water that you will develop these skills and build the familiarity with the site to allow you to navigate with comfort and ease. “When diving new sites gather as much information as you can prior to planning your dive, charts, dive maps, information from local divers and tide and current information can all help you plan and visualise your route prior to entering the water. When diving in a new location don’t try and cover too much ground on a single dive, become familiar with an area before pushing further. If you have limited time in a location and want to achieve a specific goal, consider hiring professional assistance. There is no shame in paying for a professional guide to orientate you, or even to look after the navigation while you focus on getting that perfect photo. How many experienced mountaineers would attempt a climb in a new area without employing local guides? “Remember, good compass skills will help you but only if you know where you are and where you want to get to. Spend some time to know and understand your dive site, a knowledge of its water movements and its recognisable features will help you every time.” n

leader. This person is going to be in charge of the compass. 4. Monitor your time - On a boat, the captain will normally give you an amount of time that they’ll allow divers to stay underwater. If a dive is being planned for a shore dive, the buddy team will want to decide on a time collectively. 5. Practice - Like anything else in life, the best thing you and a buddy team can do for your skills is to practice. SSI’s Andy Rose explained: “Disorientation and that feeling of being lost underwater is a sure way to ruin a pleasurable dive. You wouldn’t start a journey without an idea of the route to take in your mind and a dive is no different. Time spent preparing the navigation element of the dive plan and agreeing it with your buddy or team can save a lot of unnecessary stress underwater. “How does that dive guide seem to know just where they are throughout the whole dive when to you the topography all looks the same? It’s all about familiarity. Navigation training in the Open Water and Specialty Diver courses will teach skills and techniques that can help you navigate during your dives,



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here Africa and Asia meet, the Red Sea has been luring European divers to its waters for years. The golden desert contrasts against the bright turquoise waters that contain some of the most-famous dive sites on earth. The view underwater is just as striking since the coral reefs here are healthy and teeming with fish. As an American who has been diving for 30 years, this was my first time dipping my toes in the water here. I have no idea why it took me so long. We travelled from the marina in Hurghada aboard the new Red Sea Aggressor II, led by one of the most-knowledgeable Divemasters in Egypt - Adel M El Beialy. The initial dive to check out our equipment took place at Sha’ab El Erg. I was focused on my cameras as the visibility was low and I wanted to be sure my housing did not leak. I should have paid more attention because playful dolphins are frequently seen at this site. Although I could hear the squeaks and calls, I missed most of the action!

The northern Red Sea offers a smorgasbord of reefs, walls and wrecks, all smothered in colourful coral growth, as Michele Westmorland found out during her inaugural trip to the area PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHELE WESTMORLAND

One of two steam engines at the Thistlegorm A shoal of glassy sweepers add a splash of colour to the inside of the Dunraven

Abu Nuhas is home to several impressive shipwrecks Giant moray eel



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At first, the silt-covered interior did not appear too intriguing until a huge school of coppery-coloured glassy sweepers emerged from a protected space The prop on the Dunraven

Quickly after my arrival, I became fascinated with the history of the many wrecks resting on the sandy bottom. Everything from small vessels to major ships reveal so many stories, it would be impossible to explore all of them in just one trip. That didn’t stop me from trying though. Later that day, we began investigating the rusty hulls of metal that tell the tale of a major shipping lane, including all the dangers open water and shallow reefs cause to the large and the small. In the Sha’ab Mahmoud area, we checked out a tiny dive boat wreck. It was a promising start, but the Dunraven is what really got me energised about shipwrecks. The Dunraven was a merchant ship loaded with cotton and wood travelling from England to India. Both a sailboat and steamship, she hit a reef in 1876 due to poor navigation, caught fire and sunk. The wreckage was only discovered in 1977 by a geologist and became the subject of a documentary film produced by BBC. The Dunraven is resting with her hull upwards to the surface along a reef wall with the bow in 15.5m of water and the stern in 29.5m. At the stern, the propeller is covered with red encrusting sponges and dripping with soft coral. It makes the perfect frame for photographing divers. Swimming into the Dunraven at mid-ships led me to another wonderful discovery. At first, the silt-covered interior did not appear too intriguing until a huge school of coppery-coloured glassy sweepers emerged from a protected space. Fish continued to pop out as I explored the rest of the wreck, adding beautiful splashes of colour against the stark metal. With the wind conditions perfect for a crossing, the Red Sea Aggressor II decided it was time for a taste of the reefs


The newest of the Aggressor liveaboard yachts, the Red Sea Aggressor II is a standout in comfort and service. She supports 22 passengers in a selection of deluxe and master staterooms. If you really desire luxury, then the Master Suite is for you. RSA II is 46 metres in length and almost nine metres across the beam. She sports not only a lovely dining salon but a lounge area with easy access to the dive deck. On the upper deck is yet another salon which accommodates guests who want to have a little quiet reading time and a cocktail. The flying bridge is where the hot tub is always ready to go, once the major crossings are complete, to relax and enjoy the desert sky.



Coral-smothered crow’s nest at Abu Nuhas

Diving here gives you not only a sense of history and exploration, but also allows one to experience a plethora of marine life and we headed to the Straits of Tiran. Located east of Sharm El-Sheikh, Tiran Island is a prime site to view fish-feeding activities. Jackson’s Reef seemed to be the gourmet spot for turtles, angelfish and moray eels. I am glad I peered out into the blue because the school of bannerfish cruising the reef edge was enormous. Turning back to the reef, something caught my eye again. Cabbage coral clusters dressed in a glorious yellow-green stood out from the rest of the reef while providing a home to schools of brilliant orange anthias hiding from predators. One of the predators that leave them alone are sharks. Divers who are familiar with the Red Sea try to schedule their trips to co-ordinate with when specific species of sharks are visiting. Cooler water temperatures in the winter may bring a thresher or oceanic whitetip, while whalesharks are more common when there is plenty of plankton to feed on during the hotter time of year. Motorcycles inside the Thistlegorm


Our next reef destination was in Ras Mohammed National Park. It is easy to understand why there is a plethora of liveaboard vessels in the area. The sanctuary boasts schools of jacks and bannerfish next to the backdrop of colourful reef walls. I was more than happy to follow the guidelines put forth by the park rangers, who watch the divers, and to pay the park fees for just this kind of environmentally sound preservation strategy. Especially as pristine, healthy reefs become rarer, it is good to see a pro-active approach being taken to their safety. Signature wrecks in the Red Sea are well known. However, I don’t think there is a person in the world that can dive them all with a full understanding of each room, each galley, each nook and cranny – unless you are our Divemaster Adel. We had the good fortune of making three dives on SS Thistlegorm, by far the most famous of them all. She was sunk in World War Two in 1941 by German bombers on her mission to carry supplies to the Allied forces. Discovered by Jacques Cousteau in the early 1950s, years went by before this 230-metre-long ship reclaimed its history and celebrity. Three dives provide barely a glimpse of what the Thistlegorm’s story can divulge. For my first visit to this famous wreck, I stayed on the exterior with depths ranging from 15m at the bow to 30m at the stern. It gave me a clear picture of the ship layout and ideas for where I wanted to infiltrate the interior. The next dives were



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spent exploring the storage holds that contain trucks, Bren gun carriers, motorcycles, Lee Enfield rifles, airplane parts – and ammunition. What the entire dive group could not see, due to time, we heard about from Adel in a thoughtfully prepared presentation in the comforts of the lounge. The ships Giannis D, Carnatic and Chrisoula K/Marcus are located in the middle of a major shipping lane that is still quite active today. Abu Nuhas, the reef and shallow island that caused these vessels to sink, is also known as ‘The Reef of Seven Deaths’. When you see the area, it is not surprising that it is one of the most-perilous places for ships even with the latest navigation systems. Diving here gives you not only a sense of history and exploration, but also allows one to experience a plethora of marine life. Scorpionfish, lionfish and crocodilefish add to the mysterious nature of the rubble, but even dolphins are known to go eye-to-eye with curious humans here. Surprisingly, my favourite wreck is also one of the smallest. The Barge is located in the Gubal Islands and is quite protected from stormy seas. It’s difficult to understand why this vessel sunk in a calm location, but it is estimated that she went down some time in 1967. The Barge rests in shallow water, so there is plenty of time to go on a treasure hunt and treasures you will find. From the smallest nudibranchs to the biggest moray eels I’ve ever seen, this is a site to do over and over again day or night. n

Some of the guests, including myself, stayed in Egypt not for diving, but for learning more about the ancient history and temples along the River Nile. If you are going to go such a long distance, it is worth it to take the time. The first of the Aggressor River Cruises fleet, the Nile Queen is a charming, 52-metre sailing vessel called a Dahabiya, and is the most beautiful of yachts not only in the décor, but the crew. Captain Haggag was dressed in his traditional gallebaya. His bright eyes and constant smile were as inviting as the Queen herself. From Luxor to Aswan, guests get to not only see the amazing historic sites, but also experience life on the Nile for the various Egyptian communities. Fields of grains next to orchards of mangoes, pomegranates and pears are where the locals gather the ingredients for their flavourful meals. Cattle and goats are tethered for grazing, while it is common to see donkeys as the mode of transportation. Our guide, Emile, is one of the most-knowledgeable and passionate people I have met, and the information he presented was not only educational but inspirational. The experience on the Nile Queen made it one of the most-rewarding trips I have been on.







A shallow UK dive with a difference this time around, as Jeremy Cuff heads to Bouley Bay in Jersey PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEREMY CUFF / WWW.JA-UNIVERSE.COM


s the Sea Cat ferry set out from Poole Harbour, winding out past Brownsea Island, Sandbanks and Studland, it felt like properly going away, getting ‘off the island’, so to speak. I looked forward to the pleasant continental vibe of the Channel Islands and the diving I had planned, though the weather wouldn’t be as good as my previous visit… Back in 2010, I enjoyed an excellent weekend of diving at Jersey’s Bouley Bay. It was somewhere I vowed to visit again one day, but it took until late-August 2018 to make that a reality again. It’s a lovely scenic bay located on the island’s North East coast with a sheltered position that allows for year-round diving. On a clear day, you can sit and eat crab sandwiches or an omelette and chips from Mad Mary’s Café and see over to the coast of Normandy on mainland France. The gentle arc of the bay is interrupted by a rocky outcrop to the east known as L’Islet, and bounded to the North West by a stone jetty.


Bouley Bay is accessed by a steep winding road, characterised by switchbacks and sea views. There’s limited parking for those bringing their own vehicle or hire car, so it’s a good idea to get there early – really, no later than 9am to be safe. The ‘A roads’ on Jersey are more like ‘B roads’ or even country lanes, so don’t expect to get anywhere quickly!


It’s best to dive Bouley Bay with a guide, so that you can get the most out of a visit. That said, the sheltered and safe conditions mean that most competent buddy pairs could go it alone, find plenty to see and not get hopelessly lost. The main decisions to be made are when to go in (which might be determined by the tide times, as there’s quite a big tidal range here), where to get in, which is normally from either the boat slipway or from the beach (accessed by some steep steps or further along the walkway past the cafe), and

BOULEY BAY WHAT TO EXPECT TYPE OF ‘DIVE’ Shore EXPERIENCE Great for both inexperienced and experienced divers 38

DEPTH Up to 12m-15m depending on the tide and where you go, but likely to be somewhat shallower in the main

MARINE LIFE SEABED The bay is home to a A sloping seabed with multitude of marine life varied topography, including rocky areas, sandy expanses, VISIBILITY Expect between two ledges, crevices and a to ten metres stone jetty wall

HAZARDS The occasional boat, steep steps leading down to beach, discarded fishing line, uphill walks back to the dive centre WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

where in the bay you want to explore. It’s a very good idea to take an SMB to indicate your location at all times, as there’s some sporadic boat activity, especially on weekends. It pays to be vigilant, especially if surfacing, where it’s essential to look around and listen for any oblivious boat craft. Our main plan was to cover the different areas of the bay, ranging from rocky ledges and walls, luxuriant weed and kelp beds, the rock- and pebble-strewn shallows and the flat sandy expanses (the UK’s best muck diving, perhaps?). You could thus divide the bay into three main areas and dive it in sections, although in reality, you could easily cover more than a single area on each dive if you so desired, or if time is short. To the east, L’Islet offers rocky ledges and walls, and is surrounded by kelp and weed beds in season. Towards the middle of the bay are the rock- and pebble-strewn shallows, the weed beds and the vast sandy expanses further out. To the North West is a rocky and weed-covered slope, weed beds

Hermit crab Vis can be exceptional

There is plenty for divers to see

Steps lead down to the beach

and the sheer wall of the stone jetty. If diving in this area, look out for the large discarded anchor. As the bay is fairly shallow and largely current-free (though you can pick it up if you go further out), it’s possible to enjoy long dives in Bouley Bay, with the only enemy being the cold after you’ve been in the water for well over an hour. On my 2010 visit, we enjoyed a fabulous ten metres of visibility, but this time it was much reduced following the less-stable weather after the 2018 heatwave, perhaps a minimum of two metres and a maximum of five metres.


Bouley Bay offers a variety of underwater topography and fascinating marine life encounters for the underwater naturalist. The timing of a visit is key to the types of flora and fauna that will most likely be encountered; for example, the winter sees more flatfish, the spring can yield lumpsuckers, whereas late summer offers the chance of John Dory. My recent visit was in August and it was again very productive, though different in terms of the sightings from my previous visit in mid-June back in 2010. Fish fans can expect some interesting and unusual finds in Bouley Bay. There’s plenty of wrasse, including some quite hefty specimens. I also noticed a fair number of the parasitic crustacean Anilocra hitching a ride on some of the wrasse, like something out of Alien. I also observed pollock, bass, bream, grey mullet, sand eels, greater pipefish, gobies and my highlights for the trip, thornback rays and undulate rays (a new species for me).



Spider crab

There’s even an outside chance of spotting an elusive seahorse, as they’ve been sighted in the bay a few years ago, though not recently Kitting up near the dive centre


There’s only one dive centre at Bouley Bay, the friendly and helpful Bouley Bay Dive Centre. It’s located on a walkway just below the (now-closed) Water’s Edge Hotel. Try as we might, we couldn’t complete the hat-trick by finding a torpedo (or electric) ray, which are also regularly encountered in the bay. Other possibilities are flatfish such as sole and flounder, and also scorpionfish. There’s even an outside chance of spotting an elusive seahorse, as they’ve been sighted in the bay a few years ago, though not recently. Due to their cryptic nature, the fact they haven’t been seen doesn’t mean they’re not still present. Around the ledges of L’Islet, it’s worth looking out for impressive tube worms, and in among the weed and kelp beds. There’s several species of anemone to check out around the bay, including the tube anemone and the common snakelock anemones that sometimes gives refuge to a tiny translucent shrimp. Other invertebrates included tiny nudibranchs, scallops, spider crabs (some of them quite pugnacious when confronted with a camera!), hermit crabs, cuttlefish, whelks and sea hares, a large kind of sea slug. Although the conditions didn’t allow, night dives are also possible by arrangement, and are reputed to be very good, with a local marine night shift that includes conger eels, gurnards, cuttlefish and even squid. A special thanks to my Jersey-based friend, diver and underwater photographer Kirk Truscott, who kindly guided the dives. n

Lining out can be useful in bad vis

Bouley Bay


To reach Jersey, I travelled with Condor Ferries on the fast ‘sea cat’ from Poole, which takes about three-and-a-half hours, including a stop in Guernsey enroute. You can travel with a vehicle or as a foot passenger. For the full timetable and prices, visit: WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

fr 3 om h ai m o u rp o rs or st ts UK

Dive Malta Gozo & Comino

Ample choice of sites for RECREATIONAL and TECHNICAL DIVING More to see, more to do, SO MUCH MORE to remember THREE ISLANDS offering GREAT DIVING

Aquatica Dive Centre & Lounge Buddies Dive Cove Dive Deep Blue Dive Systems Divewise Maltaqua OrangeShark Diving Centres Scuba Life Malta Scubatech Diving Centre Seashell Dive Centre Techwise

Blue Waters Dive Cove Bubbles Dive Centre DiveSmart Gozo Gaulos Dive Cove Gozo Aqua Sports Moby Dives Scuba Kings St. Andrew’s Divers Cove Utina Diving College

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#GODiving See Mehgan Heaney-Grier at the brand-new interactive dive show GO Diving at the Ricoh Arena on 23-24 February 2019! Early bird tickets available now from:



World-class freediver, adventurer, ocean advocate, stuntwoman and TV presenter – and not forgetting a proud mum – Mehgan Heaney-Grier talks to Scuba Diver about her past exploits, and what the future holds for this endlessly enthusiastic explorer and marine educator PHOTOGRAPHS BY SCOTT MCKIBBEN, PETER ZUCCARINI, KEFSKI PHOTO, CLAY WISEMAN AND COURTESY OF MEHGAN HEANEY-GRIER / MEHGANHEANEYGRIER.COM Q: You made a name for yourself in the freediving arena when you set the first US record in the constant weight category way back in 1996. When did you first get into freediving, and what is its appeal for you? A: When I was 11, my family moved to the Florida Keys. That was the start of full-time ocean access for me and I spent much of my childhood underwater skin diving, lobstering and spearfishing. When I was 17 years old, I began deep freediving to depth, which was a whole new world, and really set my path for life and work from there. The appeal of freediving for me? It’s all in the connection – with the ocean and with myself. It is like a meditation for me as well, and kind of a spiritual experience. There’s really nothing else like it. Freediving comes directly from my heart. Q: Time to put you on the spot - freediving or scuba diving? Which is your favourite? A: Freediving, hands down! I like scuba too, and have done plenty of it – but it has all been work-related with stunts, expeditions and research. I have more than 550 scuba dives logged and I think only about five or so were of my own accord, taking family or friends that wanted to scuba dive. I wish I’d kept track of my freedives all these years – ha! Q: You were one of the original inductees into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame back in 2000. What did it feel like to be included into such a prestigious ‘club’? A: Being part of the Women Divers Hall of Fame is an absolute honour. Back when I was inducted in 2000, as you mentioned it was the founding year, so the organisation was brand new and I was still such a kid. Since then, I have become increasingly involved and active in WDHOF. It truly is an impressive and influential group of women divers in this awesome non-profit organisation, all working together to help women divers rise. Last year, WDHOF offered more than 62k in marine and diving-focused scholarships and grants to young women! Q: You have been a stunt diver in big Hollywood films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and In the Blue. What are the challenges of working ‘in the movies’, and is this something you still get involved in? A: Of course, like anything there are challenges. It is heavy on adventure and promises diving every day though – which I love and is an appealing trade off! The biggest challenge, I would say, is the long periods of time spent on location. When


you are there for so long it becomes your day-in, day-out life. Then there is the re-entry into your own life when the project is over. It’s not unlike any job where you are gone for long periods of time – it can be really jolting to go between the two worlds. Yes! Still stunt diving and doing plenty of television as projects come up. Since earning my degree however, a good portion of my focus has been in the non-profit sector with conservation and marine education. But I definitely have an adventurous spirit, so when it calls… I must go! Q: You’ve been up close and personal with marine and land-based predators for more than 20 years. Any times that things got a little too close for comfort? A: Hmm… yes, but only a few times really! I will say that the snakes have been pretty intense at times. There have been so many snakes. I like them alright in general, but just don’t have as much ease around them as I do with other predators. Believe it or not, the encounter that comes to mind with this question is not an animal you’d likely expect. The only time I’ve ever been bitten (knock on wood!) was a ‘love bite’ from a river otter – ha! And on the nose, nonetheless… Not the coolest bite, so no bragging rights earned there. I call it a ‘love bite’ because if it had been a true bite, I believe I’d be sporting a prosthetic nose (is there such a thing?). As the story goes, it was a ‘trained pet’ otter that I was swimming with while filming my Animal Planet series back in the late-90s. It was being playful, dodging and swimming all around as otters do, then it crawled up on my shoulder, was sniffing around my face with its whiskers and… crunch! Right on the nose. My take-away lesson from this experience… cuddly is only an appearance with these critters. They are fantastically designed to be swift and effectively do what they do, with powerful jaws and teeth. As it should be, they are truly and naturally wild. No more swimming with otters for me… All that wisdom gained, plus seven stitches on the nose - ugh. In my experience with freediving, stunts, adventuring and animal encounters – I have found it beneficial for the preservation of my life, to have a healthy respect for Mother Nature, Mother Ocean and all the creatures big and small. Beyond it spurring action, fear can actually get you into a lot of trouble when it comes to survival. Respect and understanding however, is the recipe to keeping your cool and being able to take proper action. ‘Breathing through it’ has become a very useful tactic as well. It keeps me calm and my head clear… or clear enough to keep my wits about me and allows me to work well under pressure.


Q: For the documentary web series A Rising Tide, you took things one step further, being host and executive producer. Did you enjoy being involved behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera? A: I do really enjoy production and actually have been working that side of the camera for quite a long time! I started back in the late-90s on my Animal Planet series as a producer and I have worked in that role on television specials and other projects over the years. So, the production process is definitely a well-known area for me, and the role of Executive Producer a natural transition.

Q: You were an integral part of the team on the Discovery Channel series Treasure Quest: Snake Island. What was it like being part of an expedition for a big-budget television production company? A: In just a few words, I would describe it as a crazy adventurous mess. Mostly, big budgets accompany movies vs television, but what it lacked in budget it delivered in hairraising experiences. Some of which were quite possibly caused by the lack of budget. The Golden Lance head pit vipers on Snake Island in general are no joke… still counting my blessings that I made it out alive and uninjured on that one. While we all made it off the island alive, we barely survived the excessively nonseaworthy vessels they seemed to enjoy sticking us with. At one point we joked that the boat was so bad - with rotten, spongy wood in the hull and a totally rigged engine - we’d probably sink and have to swim back to hang out with the snakes for refuge. Funny… but not funny because shortly after that, just as we had waved goodbye to the island, the engine died and the boat began taking on water and, of course, there was bad weather coming in fast too. Luckily though, the RIB with twin engines was there that day for support. From somewhere we dug out a sturdy line to tow the big boat, which miraculously didn’t snap, and the RIB towed the larger boat, and all of us, very, very slowly back to the mainland of Brazil. That was messy. Despite the messes though, overall it was all epic adventure and ultimately churned out a lot of crazy good memories.


Q: You are a Mum – is your son following in your adventurous footsteps? A: Yes! And, becoming a mom by far is my absolute best, most thrilling and humbling adventure yet. My son is five now and in so many ways is really showing signs of having a similar spark for adventure. Both his dad and I have that inclination, so it’s in his genes for sure. When it comes adventuring, he loves getting out there and exploring but definitely has his own style too. Surprisingly, he’s quite a bit more cautious that I ever was. He is really observant and tends to approach things in a very calculated, scientific way - when he’s good and ready, he takes the leap! He is also very passionate about nature and the environment, and seems to have a good understanding of his role and responsibility in taking care of it as well. He will ask the best questions about plastic pollution and other humandriven environmental issues, and loves to problem solve and try to come up with ways that we can all do a better job. It’s just fascinating to me. He is just such a cool person.

Q: You have been on all manner of expeditions and dive trips over the years. What is the most-memorable experience you can recall? A: There are so many freedives that I can picture when I close my eyes. Most memorable dives for me always have the same ingredients – 80-90ft of water, laying in the sand on the bottom, and watching the ocean unfold around me while I just soak in the bottom time. Unparalleled, best feeling EVER! Q: On the flipside, what is the worst thing that has happened to you while diving/on an expedition? A: I’ve had some really intense dives and close calls with ’gators and other wildlife in the swamps, and the nasty river waters of South America had their own batch of challenges. But I figure when you purposefully dive in to those places, you are pretty much signing up for danger and should be prepared to expect the unexpected. Falls under occupational hazard, I suppose. All in though, I am just super thankful that I have had and survived all the experiences underwater I’ve had so far. I am looking forward to many, many more.

Q: You have one hell of a back catalogue, but what does the future hold for Mehgan Heaney-Grier? A: It really has been a hell of an adventure so far, and there’s definitely more of that to come! After so many years of working in the ocean, I have also fully embraced my sense of responsibility to work for the ocean, as an ocean advocate. So that is what the future holds for me - adventure, freediving, and working for the ocean. On that note, I’ve got some exciting and diverse projects lining up. I’m forever inspired by working with kids, and passionate about connecting people with the ocean environment. In the coming months, I’m doing an increasing amount of public speaking and other events. I have some collaborative expeditions in the works, and a couple of exciting dive-centric television adventures in development as well. Lots of good things to come, so stay tuned! n



Kids Sea Camp is the undoubted world leader when it comes to children and diving - more than 7,000 youth certifications and counting! - and founder Margo Peyton has painstakingly crafted a series of unique itineraries with unparalleled adventures, allowing families to bond, interact with local cultures, learn history, engage with wildlife and meet like-minded families from around the globe.



ustin Hanning, UK distributor of Huish Outdoors has been a staple of the British dive industry scene for many, many years, and so no one was prouder than him when his daughter Carys finally completed her entry-level diving course. “My daughter Carys has been around diving and on dive boats since I can remember and has always enjoyed the sea in one way or another… must be in the genes,” said Justin. “She has enjoyed snorkelling, along with many trydives, when we have been away on holiday and around the UK, so I knew she would one day want to do the full course. “Carys moved out to Australia two years ago just before her 13th birthday, so we both agreed that this is where she should do her full diving course. “So, on my visit in September 2018, we arranged this via a company called Divers Den in Cairns. Carys took a PADI online course so she could complete all the classroom room stuff in the comfort of her home, at her pace and without disturbing her all-important school work, then all she had to do was the pool work and assessments. “Monday 24 September, Carys started her pool work and on Tuesday 26 September we were on a very big boat travelling out to the Great Barrier Reef to complete two of her four open water dives. “On Wednesday 26 September, Carys completed the course and we did our first open water dive together as qualified buddies… what a very proud moment for me, to see my daughter partake in a sport I love at a level we can enjoy together. “Carys then decided that she would like to dive again, so later in the week we arranged to go up to Port Douglas and dive with the Divers Den operation out from there… this is where Carys came into her own and we caught these images.” He added: “I would like to thank PADI UK and Divers Den for all they did for us and look forward to diving with my daughter again in Australia during my next visit in April 2019.” n





Kody featured in a Case Study in The Next Generation way back in March 2018. His proud mum Gill told us that after seeing an advert from scuba-diving centre Scuba School in his local chippy, he had done his Bubblemaker at eight, followed by SEAL Team, and then progressed on to his PADI Junior Open Water Diver and Junior Advanced Open Water Diver, as well as various specialties, and had assembled all his own gear by age 13. Gill has been back in touch to tell us that, despite being the only one in his family to scuba dive, Kody has continued with his diving odyssey, notching up PADI Junior Rescue Diver and more specialties, as well as a total of 67 dives, and achieved his aim of becoming a PADI Junior Master Scuba Diver, something he said he was going to do when he first saw the advert in the chip shop. Well done, Kody!

MARES SCUBA RANGER 5MM WETSUIT (JACKET – SRP: £97 / LONG-JOHN SRP: £79) Mares were one of the first major manufacturers to actively target children with dedicated kid’s gear. The Scuba Ranger 5mm wetsuit combo is the perfect set to keep your little diver warm on their next underwater adventure. The Scuba Ranger comes in two parts – a long-sleeved, hooded jacket, and a long-john with zippered ankles. The lime-green and black colour combination makes it quite eye-catching, and they have both been designed to be easy to put on and take off. Worn together, they will have 10mm round their core, and 5mm on their lower legs, arms and head, meaning aspiring young divers will be kept toasty warm in this combo, which is perfect for


those exploring beneath the waves in the UK during the summer. In places like the Med, Caribbean, or the Red Sea, for

example, just the jacket top or the long john can be worn.


OUR MISSION: Kids Sea Camp’s mission is to inspire families to dive, travel and explore environmentally and culturally diversified destinations, and thus we have created family-friendly resort packages, activities and tours designed to provide safe, fun and educational vacations to children and their families.



Georgia von Ienburg got in touch with The Next Generation to tell us about her son, who got into diving and actually inspired her to get into the sport as well. She said: “My son started his diving journey back in 2016 at the age of 11 with Aquapigs. In the June of 2017, he went to Chepstow and completed his Open Water Diver course. The team at Aquapigs made it such a wonderful experience for him that it reinforced the passion he has for the underwater world. In the summer of 2017, we went on holiday to Rhodes and he took advantage of his Open Water Diver certification and went on his first qualified dive - and I gave it a go too! “Earlier this year, Will continued his educational journey and back at Chepstow during the summer, he completed his Advanced Open Water Diver, his drysuit course and his photography course, while I gained my Open Water Diver certification. In the summer, together we experienced the joy of diving in Corfu, and it was such a special moment as we felt so privileged to be among these beautiful creatures . To bring this amazing year to an end, Will went on a trip to the Farne Islands with Aquapigs to swim with the seals - a memory he will always treasure. “He lives for his pool sessions ready to embrace the next stage of what is going to be an exciting and continuing adventure, and none of this would have been possible without the support and dedication of all the team at Aquapigs.”



Tracey Hargreaves got in touch to tell us about her son Connor, who has proved so inspirational in his diving journey, his brother and now father are set to join him! Our son Connor did a DSD for his tenth birthday and the rest, as they say, is history. He joined Canary Divers and began his diving journey, qualifying as a PADI Junior Open Water Diver on 14 October 2014 when he was ten years old. Being keen to continue his underwater journey, on 3 June 2016, he progressed with his PADI Drysuit Speciality, giving him more chances to dive in cooler temperatures. Because Connor had put so much commitment into his diving, we decided that we would take our first family holiday abroad, booking a trip to Gozo. With this in mind, Connor then went on to become a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver on 2 July 2017, giving him more scope to dive a little deeper. On 10 August this year, Connor completed his 50th dive at Eccleston Delph with his dive buddy John Bamber, who coincidentally was also doing his 50th dive on the same day. His brother Daniel, aged 15, decided he would love to buddy his younger brother and in October he qualified as a PADI Open Water Diver with Northern Scuba Life. All this, and neither of their parents are scuba divers, however, they have inspired Dad to take his Open Water Diver course because Hurghada is calling in 2019…





The ultimate interactive and immersive event celebrating all aspects of diving! Whether you want to find out more about diving, are just getting started in this exciting sport or are an experienced veteran, GO Diving has something for you! The date: Friday 22 – Sunday 24 February 2019 (Friday – trade only) The venue: Ricoh Arena, Coventry, CV6 6GE



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Aggressor Liveaboards, the ultimate in liveaboard dive yachts, celebrates its 35-year anniversary with 23 yachts, over 30 of the most-fascinating scuba-diving destinations in the world and the list keeps growing with luxury safari adventures with Aggressor Safari Lodges and intimate river cruising with Aggressor River Cruises.

Apeks began manufacturing 40 years ago with one goal - to make the best diving equipment in the world. Apeks products are pushed to the max by divers around the world. From caves to wrecks, extreme cold water to the darkest depths, Apeks products out-perform recognised standards in diving.



All Star Liveaboards is the longest operating liveaboard company in the world! Join us in the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Indonesia or the Philippines for world-renowned diving and excursions. We have something for everyone, from budget friendly to five-star luxury - even the non-divers will have a blast!

Aqua Lung is the name that first introduced the world to scuba diving in 1943 when Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnon developed the first ‘aqua-lung’. The excitement and adventurous spirit of that first dive continues today and is reflected in Aqua Lung’s dedication to quality and innovation in the manufacturing of scuba diving equipment.



Ammonite System heating and lighting products are manufactured in the EU using the highest quality European-manufactured components available, using batteries from respected global manufacturers. Designed and machined to the highest standard, Ammonite System are forging new ground in the diving world.

Aquatica manufactures an extensive line of underwater housings for today’s finest digital cameras, such as Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony. We also make the worldrenowned Delta 3 Line System of strobes, arms, trays and accessories. Both brands are preferred by many underwater professional photographers.



Get your hands on the new Series 189, an all-in-one dive light for photographers, cave divers and recereational/technical divers who want the best. The ‘189’ refers to the episode number in The Simpsons – ‘All singing, all dancing’. We believe this torch has every conceivable feature a diver needs.

Designed for strength, performance and load-carrying in all conditions, Ballistic RIBs are built to last and look the part. You will love the Ballistic’s exceptionally dry ride, and this, coupled with stable handling at speed or at rest, means safe and easy boarding and a comfy ride for your passengers. Come see the new purpose-built 7.8-metre luxury dive RIB.



Andark was formed in 1976, originally as a diving contractor. Today, Andark is one of the country’s biggest leisure diving schools, offering a range of world-recognised dive courses. A PADI five-star IDC centre, as well as a successful retail and online shop. ‘Andark’s business is watersports’

Beuchat was created in 1934 in the rocky coves of Marseilles, on the Mediterranean coast in southern France by Georges Beuchat. Today, Beuchat keeps a strong leadership in wetsuits and offers products for scuba diving, snorkelling, spearfishing, freediving and outdoor swimming.



AP Diving have been pioneers of dive equipment manufacture since 1969. 50 years later, we have grown into an internationally respected dive company with a proud legacy of landmark products - from the Commando and Tekwing BCDs to our current flagship product – the INSPIRATION closed-circuit rebreather.


Bigblue Dive Lights entered the dive light market in 2007, when we introduced our first light models. Each year we have continued to build upon the reputation for innovation, performance and quality. We utilise the latest in LED technology and incorporate creative accessory designs.




Come and see blue o two and be inspired for your next diving holiday! We’ll be releasing some fantastic worldwide show offers closer to the show, so keep an eye out for those! Drop by and say hi to the team, who will be showcasing our destinations, liveaboards and resorts. See you there!

Cameras Underwater has been a leading supplier of underwater camera housings, lenses, lighting and associated components since being established back in 1991. Whether you are looking for a point-and-shoot, mirrorless system or a full-blown DSLR set-up, the experienced team will be able to assist you.



Founded in 1988, British Divers Marine Life Rescue is the only charity covering England, Scotland and Wales dedicated to the rescue of marine life such as whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals. Our trained volunteers respond to emergency call outs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Canary Divers, Regional Training Centre offers training from open water to instructor all in-house, along with equipment servicing, a dedicated Tech/CCR room and a large shop stocked with many brands. The centre is set over three floors with onsite car park and cafe.



BSAC’s mission in life is simply to grow the nation’s love of scuba diving. As a not-for-profit organisation and the National Governing Body for diving and snorkelling in the UK, BSAC supports its diving family of clubs, individuals and volunteers in their pursuit of fabulous and safe diving.

CandS Diving Supplies Ltd is a small, family run business based in the north of England. All the team are truly passionate divers, and we aim to supply good-quality, robust products and diving accessories at a competitive price while giving total customer service.



The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board are considered to be ‘BVI Concierges’. Proud experts, we are here to assist in any way with your holiday whether its land- or water-based; diving, snorkelling or excursions. Let us help you plan your holiday of a lifetime.

Caribbean Fun Travel is the UK dive specialist for GRENADA - BONAIRE - CURACAO - ARUBA - SABA - SAINT MARTIN – CAYMAN ISLANDS – SAINT LUCIA – GUADELOUPE – ANTIGUA. We work with the dive centres on island and know how the diving works.



Your Buddies on Bonaire welcome you! An unhurried, unspoiled natural paradise offering spectacular sunsets, gentle breezes and crystal clear, turquoise waters. Buddy Dive is known for its casual atmosphere, spacious accommodations, and a dive operation that keeps the needs and wishes of its guests in mind.

DAN Europe (Divers Alert Network Europe) is an international non-profit medical and research organisation dedicated to the safety and health of divers. Founded in 1983, DAN Europe exists to provide expert information and advice for the benefit of its members and the diving public.



The Bunaken Oasis offers guests a truly luxurious diving vacation, unparalleled within the Bunaken National Marine Park. Every element within Bunaken Oasis has been carefully designed to cater for guests looking for a special resort, with our experienced staff offering unbeatable service in all areas.


With eight spacious staterooms and one huge master suite in the panoramic stern quarters, Dewi Nusantara can take up to 18 passengers anywhere in the Indonesian archipelago. Dewi Nusantara was purposely designed to cater to those who seek quality, safety, caring service and the most-elegant schooner available.




Are you looking for a good way to store your octopus? In need of a spare silicone mask strap? Or looking for a specific size of snap bolt? We deliver all kind of accessories related to diving to make your live underwater a lot easier! See you!

Since 2001, the team at Dive Worldwide have been creating tailor-made diving holidays for people from all walks of life. They are unique to the UK dive market in offering remote and far-flung destinations, and they only work with the mostprofessional local operators/dive centres. The team’s passion for conservation percolates through the entire company.



With 30 years’ experience of delivering world-class diving expeditions, Gordon and Aileen welcome clubs, small groups and buddy pairs to enjoy spectacular scenic and wreck diving, fantastic photography, excellent visibility, abundant colour and life. Discover it all on our new website, and pop by the stand for a chat.


Dive Into Indonesia proudly presents two diving resorts in two of the most-incredible locations in the world - Ambon and Lembeh. Both resorts are run with the same philosophy - the bestvalue, world-class service and world-class diving without compromise. Whether a seasoned pro or just starting your diving journey, we will ensure an unforgettable holiday.

When you’re looking for a holiday company that works with you every step of the way, welcome to the Diverse Travel team. We totally understand the importance of getting your diving holiday right. Trust in us to create your best memory-making holiday. Choose from liveaboards and resorts around the world.


Discover the dazzling arrays of corals and marine life of the world’s second largest barrier reef, in the crystal-clear waters of Honduras’ Bay Islands. Show special - buy-one, get-one-free – come see us at our booth for a chance to win a dive trip for two to Honduras!



DiveOnline.TV brings viewers diving news, event coverage and equipment reviews from within the UK’s diving industry to all divers who have a passion for the sport. DiveOnline.TV works closely with H2O Films, who provides underwater and marine-based filming as well as courses to recreational and professional divers wanting to gain initial skills.

Finnsub is a technically oriented diving company. In 2009, we introduced our ‘Advanced Technologies’ division and began producing the highest quality and most-advanced LED diving lights in the world. FINNSUB produce wing and harness systems which are constantly renewed, with high quality, precision manufacturing and unique design.



Dive Proof produces water-proof, grease-proof, wipe-able, chemically resistant and environmentally friendly log books that can be written on using a normal ball-point pen or pencil and cannot be torn. Individual books can be personalised with names and photographs, and you can buy various packs of additional pages, and other accessories.


Dive Safari Asia comprises a small collective of dive professionals with a passion for diving and travel exploration. They focus on destinations that they’ve personally visited, travelled in and dived, and hand-pick their local partners. They pride themselves on personal service, care and attention to detail.


Cornwall-based Fourth Element has been designing high-quality clothing with a simple, diving-orientated style since 1999. Our recent work and products have centred on our responsibility towards the environment in which we dive, and live. We make exceptional diving garments, many using recycled materials - see you on the stand!


GUE is a leader in scuba education, developing numerous industry-first training protocols with a cast of knowledgeable professional educators and producing divers of exceptional quality. These educational programmes enable divers to comfortably explore a nearly unlimited range of engaging projects.



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Great Escapes Diving Holidays is an independent travel company run by experts with over 30 years combined experience. We specialise in bespoke holidays to selected dive resorts and liveaboards throughout the world’s most-stunning locations, with added tours to enhance your travel experience.

Mares is a long-established dive equipment manufacturer producing a broad range of high-quality, top-rated gear for recreational divers, tech divers, freedivers, snorkellers and spearfishing enthusiasts. From regulators, BCDs, drysuits and dive computers to wetsuits, masks, snorkels and fins, and much, much more, Mares has something for all levels of diver.



Grenada and Carriacou are an all-yearround scuba diving destination. A superb variety of dive sites attracts divers from around the world. More than 50 sites offer something for every enthusiast. Our dive sites are just a short boat trip from the island’s sandy beaches and ideally suited to divers of all levels and ages.

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions is Australia’s leading liveaboard dive company and is synonymous with world-class dive sites and exceptional customer service. Our three-, four- and seven-night expeditions visit a wide range of sites within the Great Barrier Reef and remote Coral Sea.



Halcyon Dive Systems is a recreational and technical scuba equipment manufacturer. The company began as a group of divers who knew exactly what they wanted, but could not find it in any dive store, which led to them designing wings and lights to satisfy themselves, and this progressed to supplying other discerning divers.


Internationally acclaimed Infiniti Liveaboard is a newly renovated, luxurious liveaboard offering dive trips in the pristine waters of the Philippines. A 39-metre, all-steel RINAclass vessel with 11 guest cabins ensuite bathrooms, brand new camera room, a large dive deck and a huge sundeck, Infiniti provides an extraordinary life experience!

Nautilus - manufacturer, importer and distributor of premium diving brands. Our ethos has always been one of quality and service. Choosing the right brands to ensure products are designed and manufactured to the highest standards enables us to offer service and after sales to match.


First, it was Socorro mantas and Guadalupe great white sharks, now it’s the Sea of Cortez with sites that have never before had liveaboard dive ships based there. With four ships now in Baja Mexico, we are able to offer more options than ever before. Come join us!



Your first port-of-call to find out more information about the award-winning KUBI dryglove system or the lightweight but durable Miflex braided hoses, as well as innovative gear such as the Aquasketch scrolling slate, Omniswivel hose adaptors and diving fittings, Thermalution heated undersuits and accessories, and much more.


Magmadive’s story begins underwater between the tectonic plates back in 2009, where company founder David Ramsay submerged into some of the clearest water on Earth. Inspired by the rugged elegance, awe and natural splendour of what he saw, he went on to create his own brand that embodies these very elements into its service.


Ocean Leisure, London’s premier watersports superstore, is home to Ocean Leisure Cameras, where you’ll find the most-comprehensive line up of underwater photographic equipment and expertise anywhere in the UK. We’re easy to find too! We’re right next to Embankment Tube station and a short walk from Charing Cross.


Ocean Quest, multi-award-winning eco company, for 21 years diving the Bell Island Mine and World War Two shipwrecks, along with huge icebergs and majestic whales. Just across the Pond to Canada’s youngest province, but Great Britain’s oldest colony! Truly a ‘Dive into history’.



Ocean Reef invents, designs and produces equipment to be fully at ease in discovering the underwater wonders: discover our diving gear and our exclusive IDM (Integrated Diving Mask) equipment, perfect in warm and cold-water situations. Come and see the full-face snorkel, and find out more about what we do.


Project AWARE is a global movement for ocean protection powered by a community of adventurers. We connect the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation. We take action to create both local and global change for the ocean and the communities who depend on it.


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Otter Watersports was set up in 1986 by the late-John Womack Senior, and soon became a family business, with John Junior taking over the day-to-day running in 2012. Otter drysuits are used by explorers and technical divers pushing the limits who need equipment they can depend on, and their legendary customer service is second to none.

RAID is the world’s fastest-growing diver training agency with satellite regional offices, dive stores and instructors waiting to provide diver services to you across the globe. RAID is also the first diver training agency to offer a complete range of online diver academic programmes from beginner to instructor examiner.

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PADI is the world’s leading diver training organisation, issuing 25 million certifications over 50 years. With more than 6,500 dive centres and 135,000 PADI Professionals across 183 countries and territories, you’ll find PADI diver courses and diving services almost everywhere. We are PADI, the way the world learns to dive.

Italy-based Ratio Computers manufacturer some of the most-advanced and featurerich dive computers on the market. Whether you want a wrist-mounted unit or a compact wristwatch-style, if you are a novice or an experienced tech diver, Ratio has got you covered. Come and see what these incredible computers are capable of first-hand.



Pelagic Fleet is an adventure travel P E L G I C company determined to explore the FLEET Mexican open ocean. Experience the best big animal encounters on board our signature vessel, the Solmar V, or on our brand-new boat, the Socorro Vortex. Also join us on a day trip Pelagic Safari expedition off Cabo!

The friendly Regaldive team is made up of dive professionals, divers and travel enthusiasts with many years of experience between them. They are well qualified to find the perfect diving holiday to suit your needs, and are passionate about travelling and diving.


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Prodivers have been exploring the Maldives for more than 30 years. Since opening on Kuredu back in 1988, the company has grown into one of the largest dive operators in the Maldives, now running out of Hurawalhi, Innahura, Komandoo, Lily Beach and Vakarufalhi as well, allowing them to offer six very-different diving experiences.


ProDiveUK is a dynamic, fun and innovative training company specialising in PADI Professional courses. Platinum Course Director Kerrie Eade leads the training supported by Elite Master Instructor Bethan Comley, bringing a wealth of real-world experience to help you create a life as a diving professional.


With more testing and more redundancy built into the unit than any other rebreather on the market, the rEvo III closed-circuit rebreather is truly a revolutionary rebreather. With a wide range of choice on size and electronics configuration, you can be sure you have the perfect CCR for your diving needs and local diving environments.


With the right training, experience, equipment and conditions, scuba diving can be phenomenal. Our marine environment rivals some of the best in the world, offering a fascinating range of wrecks and wildlife around our coastlines to enjoy. There are risks involved and we’re here to help you dive safely.




Established in 1981, we stock a full range of dive kit from all the major suppliers, including Apeks, Aqua Lung, Mares, Scubapro, Fourth Element and many more. If you’re just starting out in diving or have years of experience, we have you covered with both equipment and courses.

Scuba Travel has been arranging awardwinning holidays for over 20 years. Our experienced team are committed to crafting memorable diving holidays. We create bespoke itineraries that are as individual as you are. Join the thousands of travellers that trust Scuba Travel to make their dreams come true



Roho has been manufacturing drysuits for over 31 years, so we really understand the needs of divers. We make drysuits for all divers, diving in all conditions. Whether it’s for diving the wrecks in Scapa Flow or a lightweight travel suit for Malta, we’ve got you covered. is the world’s best online dive companion, and is a hub for divers who are looking for all the latest diving and marine conservation news, blogs, product video reviews, regular competitions with amazing prizes, monthly underwater photo and video contests, and lots more.



Roots Red Sea is a small, friendly resort aimed at scuba divers, snorkellers and those who want a quiet, peaceful and relaxed atmosphere combined with excellent diving on tap. Managed by British-owned Pharaoh Dive Club, their simple mantra is to deliver the holiday the guest wants and treat everyone the way they would like to be treated themselves.

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Come and visit the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) to find out more about the work we do, the nature reserves we manage and our marine conservation work around the UK and beyond. We will be giving wildlife advice and inspiring people, through our Giving Nature A Home campaign, to help wildlife in their own gardens.

Seadog Productions is an independent broadcast and creative video production company in Bristol. Founded by Monty Halls, our dynamic team works with brands, businesses and charities to produce creative, story-led video content that you won’t need to push on your audience - they will seek it out.


Explore the best in North Sulawesi! Combine up to three of the best dive and snorkelling locations of North Sulawesi, which each have their own charms and attractions, but complement one another perfectly for the ultimate dive trip. / /



SANTI Diving is one of the world’s leading producers of diving equipment. The company produces high-quality diving equipment used by divers to ensure safety, simplicity and comfort. The product range includes drysuits, heating systems, undersuits, accessories and afterdive.


Scuba Diver magazine is headed up by a well-respected and highly experienced team of keen divers, and each month seeks to pack the magazine with an eclectic blend of informative articles, in-depth interviews, unbiased equipment reviews, useful hints and advice and much more, with dedicated sections on freediving and technical diving.


Sharkskin is the leading Australian brand that combines a number of key performance features to create a revolutionary technical watersports apparel range, for men and women, every element of which is designed to keep you warm and comfortable both under the water and when you are back topside.


Solitude is all about redefining quality service and professionalism in world-class dive destinations. Whether it be at our land-based resorts in Lembeh and Anilao, or our liveaboards operating in Palau, Philippines and Indonesia, we’re dedicated to making every scuba-diving trip an unforgettable experience for all!




For more than 45 years, SSI has provided training, certification and educational resources for divers, dive instructors, dive centres and resorts around the world. Started in 1970, SSI has expanded to include more than 30 service centres, and is represented in more than 110 countries with over 2,800 locations.

Two Fish Divers operate five tropical island dive resorts in Indonesia, with locations in North Sulawesi, Bali and Lombok. Britishowned-and-run, this five-star PADI Instructor Development Dive Resort specialises in small groups (no more than four guests per dive guide) and long dives - they just ask you to surface after 75 minutes or on 40 bar.



The SAA is a recognised diver training agency in the UK. The training is delivered by volunteers who want to pass on their love of diving. Our aim is to provide the right environment for members to continually develop their skills through a structured approach to diving and safety.

Utila Dive Centre is the premier PADI 5 Star Career Development Centre in the Caribbean offering year round professional training in a variety of fields and specialties. PADI Divemaster courses and Instructor Courses available, plus training in Tec/Trimix, Rebreather, UW photography/video, and special Eco/Conservation programs.



We stand for adventure. It‘s about always looking to mentally or physically challenge yourself, whether it’s a long run, a tough climb or a deep dive. Above all, adventure is a mindset. It‘s about new experiences and just getting out there, regardless of the size of the challenge.

Wakatobi Resort, in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is one of the planet’s most-secluded and pristine tropical destinations, offering what many claim is some the ‘best diving in the world’. Located 1000km east of Bali, the resort and dive yacht, Pelagian, is the first choice of discerning divers worldwide.


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Tasik Ria is a family owned and run resort that offers not only luxury and comfort, but also a high level of warmth and hospitality. Bunaken National Park is just a 45-minute boat ride away, and Tasik Divers offers sublime service, while the Matana Spa can sooth all your stresses away.

XDEEP leads the market in wing innovation and design. With the Stealth 2.0 and NX Series wing systems exceeding all expectations and becoming the default market product, XDEEP cemented their position as a leading innovator in the buoyancy market by combining functional design with appealing aesthetics.

Fourth Element is a leading manufacturer of thermal protection and apres-dive wear

The ultimate FREE resource for divers, regardless of level of experience or training agency

AP Diving is a UK company specialising in closed-circuit rebreathers and durable BCDs

Wakatobi is a luxury dive resort in southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia

Ocean Leisure Cameras sells cameras and housings from a wide range of big-name manufacturers

Project AWARE is a global movement for ocean protection powered by a community of adventurers

DeeperBlue is a huge online community dedicated to freediving, scuba diving and technical diving

Scuba Travel is an award-winning dive specialist tour operator offering bespoke trips around the world

Suunto is a leading manufacturer of innovative, ground-breaking dive computers

DAN Europe is an international non-profit medical and research organisation for divers

Not bought your tickets yet? Head to: to book in advance and save £8 off the on-the-door price! 56



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.



e get geared up, charge the tanks into the dingy while the assisting militars of the base start the engine. In the background, a spectacular glacier stands above the ocean. The temperature is around -5 degrees C. With the windchill, maybe -10. The water, around 0 degrees C. Now I start to realise that I am going to dive in the freezing waters of Antarctica! Crazy! The Scholarship, this time, allowed me to join a Chilean team from the Universidad Mayor of Santiago de Chile that studies the eukaryote microorganisms that live in symbiosis with Antarctic marine sponges. So, by mid-November, I made it to South America to meet the five other members of the team: Mario, Nelson, Marlenne, Lea and Diego. 24 November we started our journey from Punta Arenas, one of the southernmost cities of Chile, on board of the armada vessel Aquiles that was going to take us across the Drake to the South Shetland Islands. Crossing one of the mostfurious seas in the world by boat was a unique experience. As you might imagine, it was bouncing quite a lot despite being a relatively big ship. Sea-sickness pills were needed, but this was counteracted by the spectacular landscapes with amazing fjords and glaciers that we left behind on the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego as we set sail from Puerto Williams. I can’t quite describe the feeling of spotting the first signs of land among the misty dusk from the boat. Glaciers appearing in the distance, chunks of ice passing by and groups of whales and penguins welcoming our arrival. After one week of sailing we arrived at our destination, Base Arturo Prat, in Greenwich Island. This was going to be our home for the next two weeks. The scenery couldn’t be better. We had views to a huge calving glacier and were surrounded by tens of seals and a penguin here and there that inhabited the waters of Discovery Bay.

If something I’ve learned from doing fieldwork in Antarctica is that nothing goes according to plan. After having to solve some logistical problems and challenges, we finally started our work. It was the first time that a diving team was going to explore the underwater habitats of Discovery Bay, and very vague information was available on what was living in those waters. We were looking for marine sponges, specifically an Antarctic species called Dendrilla Antarctica. Sponges, which are one of the oldest ancestors of multicellular organisms usually like to settle in hard substrate to filter thousands of litters of water daily. So, we were looking for some sort of underwater walls or big rocks, and that was basically trying to search for a needle in a haystack. Using a very basic bathymetric map available for the area, we selected some tentative points and we set off to explore them. After some failed dives without sponges we finally found the place that we were looking for! Tens of sponges were waiting for us on a vertical wall covered by seaweed, spotted with some of the most-beautiful marine invertebrates I’ve ever seen. Whales were singing in the distance to make the moment of our finding even more special! Hearing the voices of these incredible animals underwater was one of the most-special moments of the expedition! Back in the base, we pre-processed the samples in the lab to send them to Santiago, where they will try to shine new light on the metabolic relationships between the symbiont eukaryotes and the sponges. Living for almost a month in such a remote and isolated place as Antarctica develops extremely strong bonds between the people you are surrounded by 24/7, as everyone has to work as a team and help each other. And this is one of the things that I take most value out of this experience. Friends that will last for many years. I still can’t believe that I will have another chance to travel back to Antarctica, this time in the Peninsula, from next January until the end of February. Once more, I’ll join a diving Chilean team to explore the underwater world of this amazing region of the world and to try to gain new knowledge on the benthic fauna inhabiting these cold waters! n

Eric Jorda


The remote Socorro Islands - or tongue-twisting Revillagigedo Islands - are sometimes referred to as Mexico’s ‘Galapagos’. They’re located on Mexico’s Pacific side, some 250 miles due south of the tip of the Baja California peninsula. Jeremy Cuff reckons you could describe the action- packed diving as simply sensational PHOTOGRAPHS BY JEREMY CUFF / WWW.JA-UNIVERSE.COM, RODIGO FRISCIONE, AND JORGE HAUSER / PELAGIC FLEET.COM



The Solmar V


he Socorro Archipelago is made up of four islands - San Benedicto, Socorro, Roca Partida and Clarion, of which the first three are possible to visit. They’re volcanic in origin, with the last recorded activity at San Benedicto dating back to the 1950s, and on the larger Socorro Island, as recently as the early 1990s. The area is very remote and it’s a full 24-hour voyage south to the nearest island of San Benedicto from the departure point of Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja California peninsula. To get there, I travelled on the excellent Solmar V liveaboard (, which visits the area during the Socorro season, which lasts from the end of October through to the end of June. The Solmar V has a long track record of visiting the area, with an established and experienced crew who know the area well. The exact dive sites to be visited cannot be known in advance, as the prevailing conditions dictate the itinerary. However, the general plan is something like this; start at San Benedicto for a late-afternoon try-dive followed by a full day, then moving to Socorro Island for a day before moving off to the Roca Partida seamount for two days. After Roca Partida, it’s a return to San Benedicto for another full day of diving before the long return journey north. Although nothing can be guaranteed in diving, the trip itinerary talks of encounters with some big stuff such as giant Pacific mantas (familiar with divers) and a true ‘sharkfest’ that includes hammerheads, whitetips, silvertips, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, duskies and the possibility of tiger sharks and even whalesharks. The area is also known for mobula rays (related to mantas, but smaller and with a different mouth), bottlenose dolphin, wahoo, schools of jacks and tuna, bonitos and even marlin. Whales are represented by humpbacks in season, and sporadic encounters are possible with other species, often in the open ocean crossings between islands or enroute to and from Cabo San Lucas. Bottlenose dolphins

This dive was a real stroke of luck; we’d been dropped into the path of a huge school of silky sharks, possibly numbering a thousand individuals

Massive shoal of silky sharks

The journey out was quite bumpy, even though the Solmar V is quite stable in the water, but to everyone’s delight the weather improved as we headed further south and would remain good for the entire trip. As we approached San Benedicto, dolphins joined us for the final push to the first dive site, riding the bow wave of the Solmar V as seabirds such as boobies and frigatebirds swooped past for a closer look. It’s an inhospitable place unless you’re a seabird; isolated, desolate and with little foliage, but we were glad to get there. Our late-afternoon arrival allowed time for a check-out dive at the El Fondeadero site. It was a chance to get that all-important dive routine in place, do buoyancy checks and get a taste of the diving to come. We were soon acquainting ourselves with the ubiquitous and unafraid Mexican hogfish, flag cabrilla (a kind of grouper) and the endemic clarion angelfish, each of which we would see on most dives in the Socorros. Scorpionfish, moray eels and flounder were also spotted, and close to the anchor line, our first manta swept past before cruising back into the blue. Next day, the captain had originally planned a visit to Boiler, a site known for mantas and other big action, but there was too much swell, so had to go for El Cañón on the south of the island instead, which was more sheltered. This site is also


01353 659999 © World Pictures / Photoshot

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renowned for shark and manta encounters and so it proved, with the mantas being the stars of the show throughout the four dives that we did there. They seemed interested in the divers and granted us several close fly pasts. It’s thought that they like the sensation of diver’s bubbles. We also glimpsed a few scalloped hammerheads (my first!) lurking in the deep on the edge of visibility, and also a tiger shark was encountered by some divers, though it vanished at the prospect of its privacy being invaded, not to be seen again. Overall, a great first day. After San Benedicto, it was off to the larger Socorro Island for the next day’s adventure, with two dives at Cabo Pearce and two dives at the Aquarium site. Cabo Pearce is another site known for encounters with the big stuff. It’s a rocky outcrop that protrudes from the island into the ocean and is often swept by currents. We had a brief encounter, perhaps lasting a minute or so, with a dolphin before getting back to the excellent manta action we had already become accustomed to from our dives the previous day. Both dives here yielded more manta encounters, including an impressive black specimen (mostly black with a few patches of white). Other sightings included a distant turtle, more scalloped hammerheads in the deep, plus some whitetip reef sharks. In the afternoon, after the mandatory passport checks by the Mexican military outpost, we were able to move to the Aquarium site where octopus, lobster, red-tailed triggerfish, giant hawkfish and the ever-present trio of clarion angelfish, Mexican hogfish and flag cabrilla were abundant. The site can also deliver bigger things, with a lone silvertip shark filling that category nicely. Overnight, we headed to Roca Partida, a remote seamount with no other land for some 60 or 70 miles. You need good weather to go there, as there’s no shelter and it’s the kind of The islands from the air

In the thick of the action

Dancing manta rays

place where diving dreams can be fulfilled. On the first dive at ‘the rock’, as I scrambled to get my camera from the boatman (or ‘Pangero’) after a backwards roll into the water, Dany blurted excitedly: “Jeremy, quick, get the camera - sharks!” This dive was a real stroke of luck; we’d been dropped into the path of a huge school of silky sharks, possibly numbering a thousand individuals. The school moved quickly, forming and reforming in a swirling vortex as divers kicked hard into the blue to get as close to the action as possible. We also noticed that a few dolphins joined the fray too. It was an incredible sight and is often referred to in the diving community as ‘shark wallpaper’. “You don’t see that everyday,” remarked one diver, with more than a touch of understatement. The crew of the Solmar V, including Dany (a veteran of diving these remote volcanic isles) and marine biologist Erick couldn’t contain their enthusiasm for what we had witnessed. It was the most sharks that they’d ever seen in a single dive. As alluded to, it’s an increasingly rare spectacle in today’s impoverished seas, with many species of sharks now scarce, threatened or even critically endangered thanks to massive overfishing on a global scale. The Socorros are a designated conservation area and offers hope that healthy marine ecosystems can remain viable (or recover viability) given the right protection. But that isn’t it at Roca Partida; on other dives scalloped hammerheads and Galapagos sharks swirled and roiled in the deep below us, well out of range of safe diving and photography, but possible to see. I was told that on some occasions, they can sometimes be seen at shallower depths. Roca Partida is also a ‘world’s best address’ for whitetip reef sharks (or ‘great white tips’ as they were amusingly renamed on the boat). It really is a fantastic place to observe and photograph these sharks, which can often be found snuggling together on the numerous ledges. I found that if I edged towards them slowly, they would sometimes tolerate a close approach. This was a real opportunity for me, as I’ve never managed to get good images of whitetips until this trip – usually you can get ‘so near, but so far’. It was also thought that many of the females were heavily pregnant. Other splendid sights out on ‘the rock’ included schooling jacks, tuna and bonitos and a lone mobula ray out in the blue. Other wandering leviathans such as mantas and whalesharks are also encountered on occasions. It’s possible to swim around the whole of Roca Partida in one dive, and if you spend time close to the wall, you’ll notice that it’s cut by many vertical cracks and crevices, each


The mantas will approach very close

of time hanging out in the blue, watching and waiting for pelagic action. The visibility was generally good although it can vary tremendously, often from dive to dive, with currents changeable as well. None of the dive sites are what you would call ‘pretty’ in a Red Sea kind of way as it’s mostly rubblestrewn and rocky, with scattered hard corals. It’s what swims past that makes it so worthwhile. On the return journey to Cabo San Lucas, the captain slowed the boat as he’d seen something - it was a whale. Although I won’t go on the record as confirming the identity of the mystery cetacean as we didn’t get close enough to be sure, the general view was that we’d seen a blue whale, the largest animal ever to live and now extremely rare. Someone amusingly exclaimed: “Wow, I can’t believe it, now we’ve seen a (expletive deleted) blue whale!” Our trip was considered to be one of the best of the season, where we were offered a glimpse into a bygone era, of seas teeming with life. For divers looking for a different kind of experience, that of remoteness and distance from overcrowded and over-dived resorts, this trip must surely be a major contender. It’s a truly great diving adventure. n

of which seems to be home to a large green moray eel and sometimes several. It’s also worth keeping a look out for lobster and octopus, with several divers reporting an octopus attempting to devour an inflated pufferfish! With two great days of diving at Roca Partida, it was time to head back to San Benedicto for the final day of diving before the long voyage back to civilisation. The Boiler site was diveable this time and is known as ‘the’ site for mantas. We saw them on each dive sure enough, but they seemed less Various species of shark can be seen in the tolerant of us on the day we spent there Socorros compared with a few days earlier at El Cañón, where they were more interested and curious. That said, if the mantas happen to be shy, there’s plenty of other attractions, including sharks. For me, the different style of diving on this trip made a refreshing change. Instead of staying close to the reef or wall like I often do, we spent a lot

The Solmar V at anchor


Our trip was considered to be one of the best of the season, where we were offered a glimpse into a bygone era, of seas teeming with life in all its brutal beauty



BETTER UNDERWATER IMAGES Following his last articles on underwater macro photography and looking at different lighting techniques, Martyn Guess provides some more tips on how we can all get better underwater images PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARTYN GUESS


f you break down a good underwater image, what are the ingredients that help it to be memorable? What makes an image dynamic and leap off the page? The first thing is probably an interesting subject, maybe doing something interesting, or a subject or scene which is striking or colourful, However, the viewer would not dwell on the image if it was poorly lit or exposed, and was not well composed. In this article, I want to look at composition in more detail, and will cover exposure the next time.


Image two - Hammerhead eye - positioned at intersection of horizontal and vertical ‘thirds’ lines and body in a diagonal position

Image one

- Rule of The rule of thirds and strong Thirds and diagonals are a prerequisite Diagonals for dynamic images. Probably the most basic of all photography rules is about dividing up the image frame into nine equal sections by a set of imaginary horizontal and vertical lines. Using this imaginary frame, you need to place the key part of your image on one of the lines or where the lines meet. The rule suggests that the best place to put the subject or the part of the subject you want to highlight isn’t necessarily in the middle of the frame but slightly off to one side. The result will often be a lot more natural-looking and will help create a well-balanced image. In image one, the eye of the subject is placed close to one of the ‘thirds’ intersections of the frame and the subject angled to give a good diagonal line, which helps to create a

well-composed image. The eye position of the hammerhead shark in image two and the rhinophores of the nudibranch in image three are close to the ‘thirds’ intersection. Both images also have strong diagonal lines – the angle of the pair of rhinophores and the shark body position help to make a strong image. Composition also works well with a symmetrical image, so straight on portrait opportunities are something to look for - putting the subject to one side of the frame also works well compositionally (image four), and if the subject is looking into the frame it will help lead the viewer’s eye into the picture (image five). It is important to get low and angle the camera up slightly, as this will give a more-natural image than one looking down (will also help to give subject separation from its background). Eye contact when taking images of animals or critters is also key to a good overall composition. If your image is likely to lose impact due to a busy background (quite a common reality with underwater photography), then cropping in tight around the main point

Image three - Composition showing rhinophores with strong diagonal line

Image four Symmetrical - straight on composition

of focus or subject, eliminating the background works well, as all attention falls on the subject. If the background in your image does not dominate the picture, then a composition can work well with the subject seen in its environment. Such as a pygmy seahorse in a wider view of its fan, rather than the typical shot taken really tight. On the subject, such a wider view composition quite often helps with giving an impression of scale – helping the viewer to understand how big the subject is, for example. Try to remember to keep an eye on the edge of your frame when composing the shot to make sure that you haven’t inadvertently cut off part of the subject you are shooting. I see this problem quite a bit with students on my workshops. And it is quite common to miss part of the subject within the

frame when looking through a viewfinder with a mask! We all have one stronger eye and it is easy to miss a vital part of the subject, such as clipping a tail or a fin or the edge of scenic shot. What could have been a great shot can be easily ruined by not paying attention to the edge of the frame. There are, of course, times when this rule can be ignored but pay attention to the frame and make sure you are including or excluding exactly what you want. Natural or man-made frames are very useful underwater and can have various uses when used compositionally. They can help to isolate the subject, drawing in the eye directly to it. They can also be used to hide things behind, such as the sun when you are at a shallow depth where the beams and sun ball are so strong you risk burning the image out. Putting the sun behind the leg of a pier, for example, can create an image with a lot of impact with sun beams, but not the burnt-out sun ball. I will often put the subject in the sun-ball itself as a way to create an impactful

BIOGRAPHY: MARTYN GUESS Martyn has been diving for over 30 years and taking underwater images for over 25 years. He has been very successful in National and International competitions and regularly makes presentations to Camera and Photography clubs as well as BSOUP. (The British Society of Underwater Photographers) and other underwater photography groups. Today he shares his passion and knowledge - As well as teaching underwater photography courses he leads overseas workshop trips for Scubatravel.

UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY Image five Composition with subject to one side looking into frame


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. As I sit here writing this article, I have just got back from a successful workshop trip to Bali with a group of photographers. – they all got some amazing images! We are returning there in August 2019. Next year there are trips also back to the Azores in September and a joint trip with Mario Vitalini to the Southern Red Sea in May. Trips to Lembeh/Manado and Dumaguete Philippines in 2020 have just been announced by Scubatravel.

Image six - Using framing of the subject - within Snell’s window

silhouette image and frame the subject within Snell’s window (image six). A strong sun-ball can ruin a wide-angle image and sometimes it is unavoidable. In these instances, I will frame the top of the image to show the sun beams but not the actual ball. In the same way when in caves shooting sun rays, the images work better if the brightest part of the sun is framed out. A frame will give an image depth and help create context. It is important to watch backgrounds carefully as blocks of strong colour or overexposed or bright areas or unsightly objects will distract the viewer and pull the eye away from what it is meant to be focusing on. I will often squint my eyes to see what parts of the frame are too bright and then either recompose or adjust exposure settings accordingly. If the background problem can’t be avoided, then opening the aperture to a lower F-stop and blurring the background will help to alleviate the issue. Creating depth in wide-angle pictures is very desirable and thus having a foreground, a middle and background will add

Image seven Framing of diver in the background and foreground subject giving the image depth

depth compositionally to our images as well as help to draw the eye through the picture. I often look for a background to set something against that I have found in the foreground when swimming along a reef. If you are lucky you can find a part of the reef and use it as a background and maybe something in the middle ground to set off against the reef with the subject in the foreground. The background reef as a silhouette is an excellent backdrop to set your subject against and one which will give a good contrast to your strobe lit subject (image seven). Using the shape of the reef against something with a similar shape in the middle or foreground is also something that will work very well from a composition perspective. Symmetry with shapes and patterns along the reef is well worth looking for. The next time you dive with a camera, practice the Rule of Thirds and set your subject at an angle to give a strong diagonal lead into the frame. You will not be unhappy with the improvement in your images! n NB: Next time – getting the exposure right.








any divers know these three letters - DAN. The acronym stands for ‘Divers Alert Network’, and its European branch, founded in 1983 by Prof Alessandro Marroni, just celebrated its 35th anniversary. Here is an opportunity to put this organisation dedicated to underwater activities, and whose skills extend well beyond its well-known insurance, under the spotlight. All over the world, everywhere at sea, its red and white flag waves. DAN is a large non-profit organisation, one of a kind in the diving sector. Its European branch, founded by diving and hyperbaric physician Alessandro Marroni, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. While we are familiar with its insurance and often convinced of its effectiveness when we are unlucky enough to have to use it, we are often unaware of the many fields of action of this global organisation, which have to do, in particular, with scientific research and first-aid education.


One may be unaware of this, but each DAN member contributes about two euros to the organisation’s research budget. In addition to this, there are also public grants, as DAN Europe is officially recognised as a research institute, involving doctors, academics and researchers. Together, they work to understand the physiological phenomena regulating diving, to prevent accidents and, when necessary, to treat them in the best way. In practical terms, this work has an impact on the way we dive in everyday life: “Various decompression procedures evolved following research studies conducted by DAN. Consider Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), which is no longer considered an absolute contraindication to diving, or studies related to flight after diving... Research conducted on divers also contributed to a better understanding of mechanisms related to oxidative stress, and this has been used with hospitalised patients,” says Prof Costantino Balestra, Vice-President Research and Education at DAN Europe. Diabetic divers, decompression sickness in freediving, immersion pulmonary oedema, narcosis, PFO, genetics, effort, nutrition, psychological profiles... none of these topics escape the scrutiny of scientists, whether they analyse data from the field or perform laboratory tests.



DAN Europe currently boasts more than 150 publications on breath-hold diving, scuba diving, gas mixtures and more in general, human reaction to extreme environments. “If you can do something underwater, you can do it everywhere: at altitude, on the Matterhorn or Everest, as well as in space,” explains Alessandro Marroni. This is why DAN regularly takes its head out of the water to collaborate with the European Space Agency and Altec, a subsidiary of Thales Alenia Space, particularly on the issue of remote monitoring of occupants in the International Space Station. “My dream would be to use all these experiences, what we learned and understood from our research, to develop wireless diving equipment that would not only keep track of risks of decompression sickness in real time but also transmit information about saturation and desaturation, as well as all physiological signals, to a system that would anticipate assistance needs. As with 112,

PROFESSOR ALESSANDRO MARRONI His motto is written on a small Mickey Mouse on his desk - ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’. The sentence is from Walt Disney, and Professor Alessandro Marroni, the founder of DAN Europe, is working every day to apply it, literally. An avid diver since the age of eight, diving instructor since 1964 and physician since 1971, he wrote his thesis on diving medicine ‘at a time when such a discipline did not exist yet’. Firmly determined to work in the field, he specialised in commercial diving and became medical director of underwater saturation works for Saipem Group between 1972 and 1985. He quickly made a name for himself in what at the time was only a niche. “My mission was to assist professional divers, 24 hours a day, wherever they were. As diving activities became more widespread, I found it natural to develop similar concepts for recreational divers,” he recalls. In 1980, a US counterpart, Dr Peter Bennett, came up with similar reasoning. Dr Bennett created Léo-Fast, then Divers Accident Network. At the same time, Professor Marroni created International Diving Assistance in Italy, which then developed in Europe. The concepts evolved jointly until they merged around a common identity, the Divers Alert Network.


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

INSURANCE: BEHIND THE SCENES Headset on her head, comfortably installed at her desk, Marta Marrocco switches easily from Spanish to French or Italian, and then to English when her emergency call ends. This former diving instructor now holds the crucial position of Case Manager, as part of the assistance provided by DAN Europe for its insurance. “I act as the liaison between the emergency call centre, hospitals, local hyperbaric centres and the insured diver, wherever he or she is in the world, and whatever the medical problem he or she is facing,” she said. This service is accessible to divers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So, what happens at the other end of the line, when, while on holiday, we contact DAN? “An operator enters the details of the claim into the system. His message is read by several people: the emergency centre, one or more doctors from DAN, the claims department for all matters related to the reimbursement of expenses, and myself. Then, a doctor who speaks your language gets in touch with you,” said Marta. Assistance continues during the acute phase of the accident, providing expert recommendations to the local medical staff, then passes the baton to the reimbursement department. A significant part of insurance - no matter how bad we consider our health system, we are not aware of the costs generated by hospitalisation abroad!

this would be a two-way technology, able to geolocate the diver and provide recommendations.” The culmination of a career? Nothing is definitive in science. Even etymologically, research is never finished, says the researcher. The extensive data we have been collecting over the years start to make sense, but it would be arrogant to talk about certitude. Our database has now more than 100,000 real dive profiles, plus medical data on the production of gas bubbles. Their analysis enabled us to publish a study on Frontiers* and to make safety recommendations regarding decompression algorithms. However, to refine our results, we need more data. In the field of breath-hold diving, we also have exciting information about pulmonary oedema in freedivers. Certain factors, including genetics, seem to facilitate its occurrence. We are also developing an algorithm to avoid decompression sickness in freedivers. It seems that the depth and duration of the dive are not so critical as the time spent at the bottom…


Aware that knowledge only makes sense when it’s shared, people of DAN Europe developed training courses open to all, including those who never put their heads underwater. “DAN training was created by doctors and is based on research,

with the aim of ensuring the injured diver receives the best treatments, limiting the after-effects, and improving quality of life. We believe that everyone – dive buddy or family member - can carry out an initial assessment in the proper way, on time. This is of the utmost importance,” explains Chantelle Newman, DAN Instructor and Area Manager for the UK. “Our courses are created according to international standards. One of the most important aspects of first aid is the identification of neurological symptoms in DCS cases. Among victims, denial is widespread, and it is even more so when you find yourself on a safari boat, where properly intervening could mean interrupting the holidays of some 20 people. Recognising the symptoms and administering oxygen gives amazing results.” In addition to its training courses for companies and professional first aiders, DAN offers nine basic courses for individuals. Some of them deal with general first aid, from the management of bleeding to use of a semi-automatic defibrillator. Some others are related to administration of oxygen, declined in several modules. In addition to these, there also is the famous ‘on-site neurological assessment’. “These teachings can save lives,” concludes Chantelle.


“Most accidents happen because we are in too much of a hurry,” warned Marta. People wait all year round for their week in the Maldives, the Philippines or Indonesia, and after a flight of 14 to 17 hours, tired and often dehydrated, they start repetitive dives. They mistakenly believe that their computer or nitrox will protect them from accidents, which is of course not always the case. However, some small, far-away paradises sometimes require two to three days for a medical evacuation, or to be properly treated… This is why we always recommend being well insured when travelling. And to not surrender to the ‘I’m tired, but I paid!’ logic, or to peer pressure from friends or dive buddies. You must be well hydrated, aware of your training, attentive to any symptoms, and aware of the safety equipment available on site. Learn when it’s time to say ‘no’. It is better to lose a dive than to lose a life. n

*Dive Risk Factors, Gas Bubble Formation, and Decompression Illness in Recreational SCUBA Diving: Analysis of DAN Europe DSL Data Base



As Damian Groves reports, South Africa’s annual Sardine Run is world-renowned as being one of the most-spectacular animal encounters on the planet, but every now and then, it can surprise even the most-jaded diver – cue a pod of orcas showing up! PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF DAMIAN GROVES





n the last four years on the Sardine Run, we have witnessed the mostspectacular events the ocean has to offer. This is by no means an exaggeration. The wild coast has been featured numerous times on nature documentaries such as Attenborough’s Blue Planet, which has opened the diving world’s eyes to this spectacular phenomenon. Amazingly, this experience is available to us as divers, and even the most-inept of underwater photographers can capture some epic photographs to reminisce over in years to come. I should know! This July was no exception to our previous visits. Apart from a special event for us, day four started out like another other day on ‘the run’. At 7am we launched the boat through the morning surf, while watching the dolphins complete their morning routine of playing and surfing in the breakers here on the wild coast of South Africa. Launching the RIB and climbing aboard, we were set. Once past the surf, we removed our lifejackets and got kitted up ready for action. Our on-board radio squawked into life as our microlight pilot reported to the skipper that a kilometer-long pod of dolphins was heading in our direction approximately 5km out to sea. Our skipper gave the call ‘hold on tight, guys’ as we accelerated towards our new location. Cutting through the ocean on our RIB, we passed a small group of migrating humpback whales that were heading towards the warmer waters of Mozambique. Right at that moment, we had no time to stop and play with the whales as we received further information that the pod of dolphins was rounding up the sardines into a large bait ball. Little did we know that what was soon to unfold would become one of the most breathtaking, exhilarating dive experiences of all our lives - and this included our guide, who has been leading groups on ‘the run’ here for 30 years. Skipping across the ocean continually scanning the horizon, our skipper spotted some bird activity in the distance. Diving birds are a key indicator of subsurface activity. Approaching the location, we slowed the engines and took stock of the situation. We knew the routine, and all divers were busy making final preparations to their kit, donning hoods, clearing masks, all while scanning ahead, excitement physically palpable. It is one of the most heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping moments before an entry next to an active bait ball - you never know what will turn up, and it is always a bombardment on the senses at the sheer jaw-dropping explosion of life to come. The hustle and bustle on the RIB seemed to stop as if on command. The boat had momentarily descended into a stunned silence as an unexpected and huge dorsal fin was spotted breaking the surface of the water.

It is hard to describe the following dive experience as each of us would use different words, phrases, even a few well-used diving terms which cannot be printed in a professional publication!



A quiet moment on the Sardine Run

Hoping in my heart of hearts that it may be the beautiful magnificent creatures we had been longing to see here but dare not to say out loud, I turned to our dive guide Walter, who looked back at me with a wry smile and uttered the magic word I had always dreamed of hearing while diving on the Sardine Run – ‘orca’. It is hard to describe the following dive experience as each of us would use different words, phrases, even a few well-used diving terms which cannot be printed in a professional publication! ‘Awesome’, ‘amazing’and ‘mind-blowing’ are just some that may help to express our emotions. When we think of these apex predators, sadly we think of commercial entertainment facilities, where they are held in small tanks and perform on cue. But forever now, we lucky few will always remember them in their full magnificent splendor. Let me tell how our lives were irrevocably changed forever… Me, as the group leader, had a moment of panic - I won’t lie. Why panic, I hear you say. Well, I didn’t want to miss this! Could we get into the water in time? Would we be in the right location when we did get in? Would they move off immediately? I guess these are the things you have to think about when providing these kinds of experiences for your guests. The Sardine Run is actionpacked and is now becoming world-renowned as one of nature’s natural underwater wonders, which compares with the likes of the wildebeest migration across the Serengeti, and being in the right place at the right time is crucial for our guest experience.

Kit was set up in rapid time and on countdown we rolled into the blue. There was no time to organise ourselves as we met face to face with a stunning pod of orca leading their calf directly towards our group. Lazily, they glided towards us to within touching distance, showing their inquisitive nature and complete grace in their true natural habit. Hearts pounding and our cameras primed for the encounter, we all vied for that perfectly framed shot. I guess we were as successful as we could be - it’s not easy to remain calm when one of your life’s dreams is coming true right before your eyes! Walter, our guide, had rolled off the RIB to within a few metres of the first orca and his smile could be seen all the way back in Cape Town - if his wasn’t visible, the rest of ours were! The orca passed by in serene elegance, clicking and whistling their beautiful songs, investigating the strange bubble-making visitors, clearly communicating constantly with each member of the pod. With one eye on us, and one eye on the moving bait ball, they circled round us in no hurry to feed. We were spending some quality time with our new imposing friends. In a sweeping arc, the beautiful creatures began to move on, searching for their lunch, but not before giving us one more treat. Being only a couple of metres down during the encounter, it made surfacing and commencing our celebrations very easy. High fives and no small amount of cheers and whoops could possibly have been heard at the Cape of Good Hope! Our new friends heard this too, we think. At the limit of our visibility and as a feeling of elation flowed through us, they turned for their final encore and to investigate the strange cheering noises. Another direct approach towards our now-ecstatic group of divers meant they passed so close we could see their flickering eyelids and individual expressions. Were they amused at our attempts to be marine animals? I do actually think so! A final turn and

South Africa’s rugged coastline

Majestic unexpected visitors




Scubadiveadventures was founded by Damian Groves, a PADI Staff Instructor who specialises in providing bespoke adventures across the world in some of the most-exclusive dive locations possible, from liveaboards in Egypt to the serene waters of the Maldives. Raised at an early age in South Africa, he is at home on the Sardine Run, providing a top-level experiences for all of his guests. Being a bespoke service, Scubadiveadventures caters for all levels of divers, ages and experience. ...and a humpback doing the same thing What all the predators are there for - sardines Dolphin breaching...

The boat had momentarily descended into a stunned silence as an unexpected and huge dorsal fin was spotted breaking the surface of the water Flypast from the orca pod

stare from the calf, captured on some footage filmed by one of our guests, seemed to corroborate this theory and was a suitable conclusion to this encounter. It was as if the pod were introducing their new arrival to us, and in turn us to it. An orca dive on the Sardine Run? Can an experience in the water get any better than this? Well, for myself and the other guests privileged enough to be present on this day of days, we think not. Amazingly, breaching humpback whales, enormous pods of hunting dolphins and over seven species of feeding sharks became the norm for us on this trip. The orca encounter was the icing on our very large African cake, and an experience we will keep in our hearts forever. Who knows what the Sardine Run 2019 will bring - all I know is that it will be epic. n





reediving veteran Georgina Miller and talented newcomer David Mellor have taken the title of UK National Freedive Champions for 2018, the British Freediving Association has announced. The selection is based on international competition results across all major pool and open water disciplines. Competitive freediving is the sport of diving underwater on a single breath, as long, far or as deep as possible. It requires an exceptional level of commitment to training as well as travelling across the world to participate in the leading depth competitions. Both David and Georgina are UK-based freedive instructors with a lot of experience. Georgina has a long history of competitive freediving for Great Britain and has held multiple national records, while David is a newcomer to competitive freediving, participating in his first competitions this year – obviously, he has seen a huge success in both pool and depth. Georgina has held her breath for 6 minutes 36 seconds in static apnea and dived to a depth of 56m in constant weight to win this award, and David has dived to 60m deep in the free immersion category, with a static apnea breath hold of 5 minutes 48 seconds - incredible results. Georgina said: “I’m really pleased to get this award. It is pretty challenging to get competition points across all six disciplines. Fitting in time to train around work teaching freediving is always a tricky balance, especially as pool space is so limited here in Cornwall, but it’s fun to try to practice all the disciplines! The cold waters of the UK are not always the easiest, but it does help to be able to dive as much as we can in the summer. We have a wonderful community of freedivers to help motivate and support us and meet some incredible, inspirational people, so I feel very lucky to be able to do this. I would really like to thank Daan Verhoeven for all of his knowledge and endless support, Porthkerris Divers for the space to practice and teach, and my mum for the dogsitting while we are away.” Georgina and Daan Verhoeven run Aquacity Freediving ( out of Porthkerris in Cornwall.


Georgina on the line...

...and having fun on breathhold

Georgina in her element

WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM is the World’s Largest Community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing. We’ve been dedicated to bringing you the freshest news, features and discussions from around the underwater world since 1996.

Heading down on another dive

David celebrating on the surface

Georgina gives the okay after a succesful dive

David said: “I only really entered my first comp back in March because I thought as an instructor it might be good to have some competition experience. I had no expectations of how I would do, but the feeling of euphoria I got after my dives just blew me away. I loved the training and healthy diet leading up to the comp and then meeting lots of really cool supportive people on the day just made for a fantastic experience. I got the bug and was straight on the AIDA International website looking for the next comp. In a funny kind of way, I like all six disciplines, I think you can take elements from each one of them and transfer parts of them mentally and physically and adapt them in a way to give you confidence to achieve your aims.”

MARES RAZOR FINS (ILLUSION, C740, F740) The new range of Mares Razor fins are ideal for divers who are after a soft but responsive fin for mid-depth fishing and extended finning on the surface. Consisting of three different styles, the fins provide maximum thrust while maintaining optimal comfort. The Razor Illusion is a fiberglass fin with special ‘Illusion’ image-scrambling camouflage print, providing great concealment in a range of underwater environments. The blade has been produced with pre-impregnated fibreglass layers for maximum strength and flexibility, and the new variable side ribs support and optimise channel thrust and flex. Razor C740 is shorter than Mares’ traditional freediving and spearfishing fins, but with all the great features expected from Pure Instinct range: high-quality, optimised channel thrust and optimum flexibility. The fin uses new 3k carbon with fibres woven at a 90-degree angle. Because the fibres used in the blade cross over each other fewer times, the


responsiveness of the fin is increased, offering a high-performing parabolic flexion. Mares’ latest fibreglass layer fin, the F740, also offers great elasticity and agility. It uses a constant blade thickness to facilitate efficient and powerful kicking motion. This great range of multi-purpose fins are designed to be worn with a 3mm sock, and can be used both for spearfishing and apnea diving.



unaken Marine Park is home to five islands, with manager, who showed us to our room. Bunaken Oasis Resort the largest being Bunaken Island. In 2017, a new say that ‘There is only one standard of accommodation at resort opened up on the island, Bunaken Oasis Bunaken Oasis – luxury’. We were blown away with how good Dive Resort and Spa ( the room was, a luxury 70 sqm bungalow situated on the The island resort prides itself on the quality of both the hillside with amazing views over the neighbouring islands resort and the service it offers. In its first year, it had and the ocean. The room came with air-conditioning, a luxury already been voted among the world’s top dive resorts, bathroom, coffee machine and a balcony with stunning views. and in 2018 they opened up the first technical diving centre After checking in and enjoying our first lunch, we took the in Bunaken, Oasis Explorers. opportunity to use the hillside pool at the resort. The pool is I have been visiting Indonesia for many years, drawn by its an infinity pool offering views of the fantastic sunset over the colourful reefs and bio-diversity, which is the most varied the local volcano, and was the perfect backdrop to begin our dive world has to offer. But as a tech diver, I had never had the trip. Bar manager Gusty also came over to us, delivering iceopportunity to do any technical diving in Indonesia before, so cold lemon tea to drink in the pool while watching the sunset. I was full of expectation when we were picked from a nearby We woke up early the next morning to begin the dive day, island by one of Oasis’ brand-new luxury wooden dive boats, and Chi checked medical forms and certifications. It was great and our guide for the week, Chi, welcomed us with a warm to see an operator so safety conscious. For dive number one smile and enthusiasm for a week’s tech diving. we decided to do a simulated deco dive as a checkout. We Chi is originally from the UK and, along with went to a local wall site, Lukuan 3, and did a dive her German husband Spencer, they manage to 40m using twinsets of air and a stage of the Oasis Explorers Tech Centre based at 50 percent O2. We started the dive with Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort and Spa. They bubble checks, then S-drills at 6m, before bring with them a wealth of experience descending to our maximum depth in tech diving and between them are of 40m. During the dive we were able to teach all PADI and TDI open amazed by the beauty of the wall, GODiving circuit tech courses from entry level being able to dive down a sheer all the way to Advanced Trimix. vertical drop to 40m and still have See Byron Conroy at the brand-new The centre also offers recreational no bottom in sight made us realise interactive dive show GO Diving rebreather trydives on the Poseidon the opportunities for technical at the Ricoh Arena on 23-24 unit, and the shop also has four diving within the local area. As we February 2019! Early bird tickets units available for qualified guests ascended back up the wall, there available now from: to use during their stay. were large fans and barrel sponges As we approached the resort from along the way. the ocean, we were immediately struck After switching to 50 percent at by the grandeur of the appearance. The 21m, we slowly ascended to 6m making resort is built into a hill and as such, many simulated stops along the way, with Chi of the rooms and the swimming pool are elevated checking that we could maintain stops in line to offer magnificent views over the sea. Chi gave us a quick with the plan and were comfortable with stage handling and run-down of the diving operation, showing us the amazing NOTOX gas switching. At 6m on the last deco stop, it was dive centre they have built. The centre is a full trimix blending amazing to hang out on the top of the reef with a rich mix of station and offers dream facilities for any technical or hard and soft corals, along with plenty of fish life. recreational diver, or underwater photographer. I was able For the afternoon dive, we headed to Mandolin, using air to put all of my camera equipment into the custom-made, and a 50 percent mix – again, we had a max depth of 40m air-conditioned camera room that also featured compressed and 20 minutes of deco. During the dive, the local turtle air and freshwater for rinsing and drying of equipment, population became apparent, as we saw 15 - completing along with every spare tool you could ever need, including deco dives while turtles were swimming up to you was vacuum pumps and spare batteries. The dive centre also magnificent. The increase in the local turtle population has offers amazing rental equipment for both tech and rec divers, been helped by the local conservation efforts of the dive they have all Apeks regulators, and BCDs for both twinsets resorts. Faisal, the resort manager, is currently working with and sidemount. The centre is also an official partner for local fishermen and island residents to educate and help with Shearwater and can provide rental Shearwater tech computers marine conservation efforts. The resort also now raises turtles for your stay. from eggs and then releases them back into the ocean when they are large enough to fend comfortably for themselves. After dropping off our dive equipment and underwater Over dinner and drinks in the bar in the evening, we were camera, Chi then introduced us to Roby, the assistant resort




North Sulawesi’s Bunaken Marine Park has iconic status due to the variety of marine life within its confines, but who knew that it held infinite possibilities for technical diving as well. Byron Conroy strapped on his twinset and stage to explore Indonesia’s deeper attractions PHOTOGRAPHS BY BYRON CONROY

supporting divers

supporting manufacturers

During the dive, the local turtle population became apparent, as we saw 15 - completing deco dives while turtles were swimming up to you was magnificent lucky enough to talk to Gusty. Our iced tea was served with a straw, and Gusty was very proud to tell us all about the straw. On first appearance, it seemed to be made of plastic, however Gusty informed us that it was actually made from corn, and showed us the box of straws the resort uses. The resort is trying very hard to minimise the plastic it uses, and takes both its environmental and social policies very seriously. The resort is the first in Indonesia to receive recognition from the Minister of Environment for Indonesia for employing over 90 percent of its staff from the island itself. From 86 staff there are only five people who are not from the island. In order to do this, the resort offers lots of training and internships for island residents and conducts training itself. Faisal regularly teaches English, hospitality and housekeeping in the village. For day two of diving, we had decided to dive a local wreck, the Mola’s Wreck. The wreck is a perfect tech-diving depth at 43m. We completed a 40-minute dive on the wreck before 25 minutes of deco. The wreck itself is encrusted with coral from years of being submerged in the Coral Triangle. The wreck itself is a Dutch freighter that was sunk at the end of World War Two in 1945, and it has a permanent mooring line connected to the bow, making the descent very easy. Upon arriving at the bow, the first thing you notice is that the wreck is sat very nicely in an upright position. The wreck is home to lots of fish life, including batfish and sweetlips. We did a short survey of the length of the ship from

Lena chilling with a turtle on a deco stop

bow to stern, and found the propeller fully intact at the stern. We then did a penetration into the main cargo hold - the hold offered amazing lighting conditions as the portholes allowed natural light to enter the hold. After 40 minutes, it was time to ascend. To ascend in nice blue water with batfish greeting you on the safety stop was extremely pleasant. We switched gas at 21m and then completed our deco stops along the line, finishing at 6m with a 15-minute stop. After a second tech dive in the afternoon, we decided to do a night dive. Bunaken Marine Park is famous for its walls, coral life and turtles. However, due to its close proximity to the North Sulawesi coastline, it is also home to some worldclass muck diving. At night is when the muck diving really comes to life. We took a dive at Tiwoho. Our guide was Cindy, a local tech diver trainee who had also been assisting us on the tech dives. She had an amazing eye underwater and was able to show us a whole host of macro life, from leafy scorpionfish, orangutan crabs, whip coral shrimps, frogfish and many more. Before the dive I had challenged her to find Inside the Mola’s wreck

The Mola’s Wreck

There is plenty to see while you are decompressing

Returning to the boat after a deco dive

a creature I had long wanted to photograph - the very small bobtail squid. Cindy had no problem seeking one out for us, a 1cm squid buried in the sand with only his eyes on show. Over lunch with Chi and Spencer, we were able to talk more about tech diving in Bunaken and were amazed to hear the story of the Indonesian coelacanth. This is a fish thought to be extinct for 66 million years, however in 1997 Mark Erdmann found a specimen in a Manado fish market. After only being able to get a few photos, he returned in 1998 and found another in a local market, but this time he was able to acquire the specimen. The fish was still alive and lived for six hours, allowing Mark to photograph its true colours. After DNA testing in 1999, it was shown to be a new species, the Indonesian coelacanth. This fish is thought to live in the 100m Heading off a steep wall

range, and Chi and Spencer have an ambition to be the first divers in the area to photograph one in its local environment. After talking to them further, their passion for tech diving was infectious. They were explaining the possibilities of the area, and the fact that the diving we were doing was real exploration. Many recreational divers come to Bunaken Marine Park each year, but only a handful of tech divers, and that has only been happening for six months. Diving into the unknown with no idea of what you will find is true exploration - Oasis Explorers are really living up their name! On our final days diving, we decided to do a deeper dive to 60m. We dived down the wall of Likuan 2 and found ourselves on a slope at 57m. After the previous day’s conversations, knowing we may be the first people to have ever seen this slope was an amazing feeling, a feeling of real exploration. In near-perfect conditions of 40-metre visibility in clear blue water, we soon reached our max time at depth and began our ascent. For this dive we had been using a trimix blend to minimise narcosis, along with a 50 percent O2 and a 100 percent O2 for the final deco stops. At 21m, we completed our first switch and the current began to pick up. Bunaken Marine Park is famous for its currents and is one of the prime reasons for the health of the reef. The current allowed us to drift gently along the wall soaking in the marine life, and we saw tuna in the blue along with blacktip reef sharks. As we hit the final stop of 6m, a turtle came in for a look and to inspect our deco gas! We returned to the Oasis resort via their luxury local boat, and relaxed in the amazing hilltop pool in five-star luxury reflecting on the diving we had done. The opportunity to tech dive on shipwrecks, see world-class macro diving and explore places that have never been seen before will be a memory that lasts forever. n

Diving into the unknown with no idea of what you will find is true exploration - Oasis Explorers are really living up their name!

Looking for somewhere cheap, quiet, sunny and warm? Idyllic beaches, bays, watersports, ocean dips, great food, beach bars and heaps of bargains? Jim Donaldson reckons you need to head for Koh Tao in Thailand right now! Here are 5 reasons you should consider visiting Koh Tao over the next few months:



What with all the ‘Fake News’ coverage Koh Tao has been splattered with, and the awesome weather this summer in Europe, plus the World Cup, people just decided to stay home this year. Many were effected by Brexit and the effect that had on the Pound compared to the Thai Baht. So there are a few reasons which could account for why Koh Tao is so quiet right now. You can almost find your own bay or stretch of beach here, it’s that quiet. Accommodation prices are at their lowest in years, diving prices are still the cheapest in the world, and your nights can be spent at restaurants and bars where nightly specials are practically on offer everywhere. The lack of tourism has really opened up island visitors to some awesome experiences at real bargain prices.



Big Blue Diving has had an incredible year for marine encounters, so if you are a scuba diver or want to learn, now is the time to do it! Whaleshark sightings are increasing year on year - four at Sail Rock on the same dive once - and with the decrease in global shark finning, we’ve also seen an increase in blacktip and whitetip reef sharks too, and we’re sure it’s just a matter of time before the schools of bull sharks return to Chumphon Pinnacle. Other visitors to and from Chumphon include a large school of dolphins, a school of false killer whales and a pod of Bryde’s whales, all at the surface, while underneath we’ve encountered Koh Tao’s first manta ray visit, and we’ve also had heaps more turtle sightings this year (some are becoming resident at certain sites). The massive schools of barracuda, jacks and batfish, the awesome bait balls that zip around, and the clarity of the water has made this year in Koh Tao the best yet - and we’re just about to hit pre-monsoon season, which is also a great time for encounters with big travelling pelagics.




What really makes Koh Tao one of the most-unique places on Earth is that throughout the year, there is always somewhere calm, flat and sheltered from the strong winds and rough seas. From January through to about June, the seas are generally calm all around the island, with the heat really kicking in during April, but the rains follow shortly after and by mid-June, you can expect most of the west side to be pretty rough and choppy and not great for diving, however on the east coast, it’s sheltered, flat, calm and with good vis everywhere. Come September it’s sunshine, blue skies and flat seas pretty much through to late-November, when the monsoon kicks in and it gets pretty wet and windy all over the Gulf of Thailand, but on Koh Tao, the west side stays flat calm and sheltered, though the vis gets pretty low.



It’s the biggest pub crawl in Asia and it’s in the top 5 pub crawls in the world! It’s a great way to meet people and enjoy a fun night out with like-minded travellers. Who would have thought an island pub crawl could generate such an awesome buzz about it? Price includes a visit to four of Koh Tao’s best venues, a T-shirt, a live band, a cabaret show and a few prizes along the way. Prepare for a hangover, and there may well be a few embarrassing photos of you plastered over the Koh Tao Pub Crawl’s Facebook page…



Regardless of whether Koh Tao is busy or quiet, the beaches and bays of the island are some of the most beautiful anywhere in the world (in 2014, Koh Tao was nominated Trip Advisor’s Top 10 Best Islands in the World), and right now they are all pretty much deserted, because there’s no one here! So discover your own bay by kayak or longtail taxi, and have a snorkel around. You will be amazed by the variety of marine life you will encounter so close to shore. So drop everything. If it’s a deserted, sun-soaked, tropical island bargain holiday you looking for over the next few weeks, then look no further - it’s time to head to Koh Tao! n





Big Blue Diving is possibly one of Thailand’s most-recognised and respected diving centres and the head operator of Big Blue Tech, Big Blue Freediving, Big Blue Pro, Big Blue Movies (photography and videography training), Big Blue Conservation (eco-internships and reef monitoring) and Drift by Big Blue (the retail centre). Established almost 30 years, this diving resort has an experienced team of SSI and PADI instructors and Divemasters and is the world’s leading SSI Diamond Instructor Training Centre, led by the world’s mostexperienced SSI Instructor Trainer, Simon Garrity. Big Blue Diving Resort comprises of a 50-room beachfront location on the west of Koh Tao, to the northern, more-tranquil end of Sairee Beach. The rooms consist of a selection of 16 poolside and beachfront bungalows, a 16-room private guesthouse and one five-bedroom family villa with private swimming pool set in a quiet location just a five-minute walk from the beach and the beachfront dive resort. Big Blue Diving Resort has a beachside bar and restaurant with a large purpose-built swimming pool for confined water skills, and can offer all diving courses from beginner to instructor with Asia’s leading certifying PADI and SSI diving instructors.

Beachfront Accommodation, Bar & Restaurant WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM



What’s New


360 OBSERVE MIRROR (SRP: £19.99)

Small, hand-held mirrors are very useful tools for divers, but most people think of them as a signally device. The 360 Observe, however, has far more uses than just that. The 360 Observe is a small, convex mirror about 5cm across, with an adjustable webbing strap to mount it to the back of your hand, or attach it to your BCD/wing. From dive pros being able to quickly glance at the group behind them, technical divers having a quick look at their manifold for any signs of bubbles, or even divers swimming on the surface back towards the boat being able to see where they are heading, this little unit is very handy.


These high-quality, custom-designed T-shirts are manufactured from 165gsm ring-spun carbon-brushed pima cotton. They’re lovely and soft and pre-shrunk, so there’s no nasty surprises on laundry day. Featuring a bold screen-printed design, an Apeks woven tab on the front and a printed logo on the rear, these unisex T-shirts are available in a range of five sizes (S – XXL), two designs and two colourways. 82

Every adventurer needs a canteen of water. The Gulper is more than just your everyday water bottle though. Pro-grade stainless steel double wall vacuum insulation means that iced drinks stay cool for up to 24 hours, and a hot drink will stay that way for up to 12 hours. Every time you refill this 900ml-capacity bottle instead of buying bottled water (look out for refill stations cropping up everywhere), you are helping to reduce the production of plastic waste which may end up in landfill or in the oceans. The versatile BPA-free, polypropylene-and-silicone lid means you can drink on the go thanks to the twist-and-sip valve, and the wide aperture makes filling and cleaning quick, simple and spill-free. WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM



Ratio’s latest iDive computers use a matrix TFT fullcolour screen, providing a clear, easy-to-read display. The user can choose from up to nine different colours to personalise the screen. The rechargeable Li-ion battery can be used for up to 20 hours in dive mode and one to two months in watch mode. All variants have a 3D compass as well as being compatible with multi-transmitters. The iDive Colour Easy features a two-nitrox mix and retails for £549. The iDive Colour Deep has three-mix capability. It is £649. The iDive Colour Tech+ offers up to ten gases, and full trimix with CCR options. It retails for £799.


The Epic ADJ 82X is the new top-of-the-line regulator from Mares, combining the traditional advantages of the company’s regulators with the latest-generation technological innovations and an exclusive design. The balanced diaphragm first stage incorporates a 360-degree swivel turret, and has a unique design for the high-pressure ports allowing you to orientate them to your preference regardless of the first-stage position. The high number of low-pressure ports allows for more flexible configuration. The pneumatically balanced second stage features the ‘motorcycle-throttle’ venturi control and wide pivoting purge button first seen on the highly regarded Fusion regulator, both easy to use even while wearing thick gloves. The VAD/VAD+ Twin Power System offers more control over air flow in all situations. It also comes with a Superflex hose. WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

Finnsub have added two innovative new torches to their line-up – the BANG Spot, and the BANG Wide. The Spot has a 5 degree beam, while the Wide has a 10 degree beam, and both put out 1,100 lumen for two hours at 100 percent power, or 366 lumen for ten hours at 30 percent. They are depth-rated to 100m, and are powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and they can be charged up without having to ‘open’ the torches thanks to the charging points being at the back of the unit. Both are switched on and off, and the power levels changed, via a unique system where you lightly ‘tap’ on the ‘BANG’ space on the light body. It is designed to be used with gloves, and comes with a soft Goodman handle mount for the back of your hand.

TANK TROLLEY (US$39.95) Tank Trolley provides an innovative solution for divers who struggle to carry their tanks on their backs on their way to and from the dive site. It’s an easier way to transport scuba tanks - with wheels. The effective design allows for easy attachment to scuba tanks so divers can roll them through car parks, along paths and even over sandy beaches. This is especially useful for those who can’t support the weight of their tanks topside for extended periods of time. 83

Test Extra

AQUA LUNG i770 | SRP: £620

Mark Evans: Aqua Lung is really becoming quite a force in the world of dive computers, and the arrival of the fullcolour, wrist-mounted i770 means they are now taking on the big guns from established manufacturers like Suunto, Scubapro and Mares. First of all, let’s talk about that screen. It is extremely bright and vivid, which makes it easy to see underwater even when it is decidedly murky – one test dive, at 32m, the vis was a grotty 50cm or so with lots of detritus in the water, and yet the screen was still easily legible. The secret to the screen is in the cutting-edge TFT (thin-filmtransistor) LCD technology. The navigation around the menus is controlled by three buttons – two on the bottom, and one on the top right corner. All three are a decent size and can easily be depressed even when wearing 5mm neoprene gloves. Markers on the bottom of the casing show that the lower buttons scroll up and down, and then the right-hand button is for entering – or leaving – a particular area. In set parts of the menu – setting your gases, for example – it even shows you on screen what the buttons do as well. Everything is very simple and easy to use. One of my tests of every dive computer I get is to attempt to navigate the menus without referring to the instructions, and the i770 passed this with aplomb. As with all computers of this ilk, it is capable of handling multiple gases (and multiple transmitters - £232 each - for hoseless air-integration), so perfect for the entry-level techie. For those venturing beyond this it has a gauge mode, and it has a freediving mode as well. The ‘dive’ screens are uncluttered and well laid out, so you can instantly see the important information, and regularly utilised features are clearly visible, such as the all-important three-minute safety stop, which counts down in minutes and seconds. The three-axis full-tilt compass is very clear and easy to read, and proved simple enough to follow around in the gloom of a chilly British quarry or the warmer, clearer waters of Grenada. The webbing NATO-style strap is a welcome change from


the usual rubber, and can be securely fastened around a drysuit- or wetsuit-covered forearm. An optional bungie version is also included for those that want that style. It is equipped with a lithium battery, which is easily recharged via a USB cable. I found that even with the computer set to full brightness, it was still giving me several days of use before needing recharging, but it was also useful being able to drop down the intensity when it wasn’t needed – for example, in the Caribbean, I didn’t need it as bright as I did in the depths of Vivian. And unlike the old i750, that TFT LCD screen is still clear to read even in the shallows in direct sunlight. It comes in a neat zippered storage case. However, one of the i770’s greatest attributes is down to how well it works with the DiverLog+ app (which is available for iOS and Android). The i770 seamlessly interacts wirelessly via Bluetooth Smart technology, and you can control all aspects of the computer from your phone or computer. I found it easy to jump into DiverLog+ and adjust all the settings – gas mix, salt or fresh water, alarms, etc – and then it is a simple matter to just fire that over to the i770 and, you are ready to dive. Far quicker than doing it all manually on the computer. On completing your dive, you can then throw over all your dive data from the i770 into your DiverLog+ app logbook. Your dive profile, time and date, water temperature, etc, are all brought over from the i770, and you can then add additional information, such as what gear you were using, your location, any photographs or videos you took, and so on. You can even get your buddy to digital ‘sign’ your logbook. Once complete, you just hit the ‘share’ button and can send it out via all the usual channels – email, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, etc. The DiverLog+ app has many features beyond those described above – you can build up a file of buddies, locations, ‘gear bags’ for different conditions, and much more. With all of its capabilities, and coming in at £620, it represents excellent value for money and is a nice userfriendly piece of kit, especially as it works so well with the DiverLog+ app.




Test Extra

SEIKO SOLAR PADI SPECIAL EDITION | SRP: £369 Adrian Stacey: I was recently asked to review the Seiko Solar PADI Special Edition dive watch (code: SNE499P1) while on a trip to the Philippines. Of course, I had a look online before the watch arrived to see what sort of timepiece would be adorning my wrist for the next few weeks. My first impressions were good, and I liked the look of the watch. The Solar appeared simple and durable, it looked chunky, like a good dive watch should, but without being ostentatious. But looking at pictures can only tell you so much, you need to feel the watch and wear it to be able to comment on its effectiveness as a chronometer with any confidence or accuracy. The Seiko has the mandatory hour, minute and second hands, and a bold face with a subtle wave pattern. Bold luminous discs have replaced the conventional 1-12 numbering system, the only other markings on this uncluttered face are the watch name, the PADI logo and the depth rating - 200m. Other features include a chunky crown, a date window, and a rotating bezel. A robust, navy blue hard plastic casing protects the watch, and a colourmatching strap completes the ensemble. I found the watch comfortable to wear, with enough weight to let you know you are wearing a watch but not too much so as to make it an encumbrance. The Seiko Solar was easy to read, the unfussy face and luminous hands made it as effortless to tell the time underwater and in low-light situations as it was on dry land. Another small detail that made this a pleasurable watch to wear was the location of the single large crown that the watch boasts, instead of the usual three o’clock position, it was shifted slightly to the four o’clock position. This meant that although the crown is quite large, it did not dig into my wrist and there was less chance of it getting caught on my clothes. Due to its sturdy structure, I was confident that it could handle the rigours of a dive trip as well as day-to-day life. While I resisted the urge to drop a scuba tank or weightbelt on it to see how it would fare, I was sure the watch could take the inevitable knocks that come with being worn on a liveaboard. The strap felt secure but had enough elasticity that it did not feel like it would be ripped off my wrist while extricating myself from my BCD in choppy waters, or while getting stuck on any other snagging hazard. The simplicity of the watch is its most-endearing feature and the reason why it complements a dive computer so well - rated to 200m, it is more than capable of handling the pressures that a good dive watch should. The Seiko Solar looks good, feels good and does the job it is supposed to do extremely well.



Made using ®

a revolutionary measurement and pattern design system.


Test Extra

BARE ULTRAWARMTH GLOVES | SRP: £49.95 - 3MM / £54.95 - 5MM Mark Evans: When the waters get cold, it is all well and good being wrapped up in layers of undersuits and a quality drysuit, but if your hands get frozen, you are done – you can’t operate suit or BCD controls, torches or cameras efficiently, and it is just damn uncomfortable and unpleasant. And let’s not even talk about the pain back topside as the feeling slowly returns to your fingertips… BARE reckon they have solved some of these issues with their Ultrawarmth gloves, which come in 3mm and 5mm versions (we have the 5mm versions on test). As with other BARE gloves, they feature a double-glued and blindstitched four-panel design to improve overall stretch by reducing the number of seams, making the glove easier to don and doff, and the anatomically correct pre-curved fingers reduce hand fatigue and improve overall dexterity. Glideskin-in wrists act as another line of defence from water entry. So far, so good, but what makes them different? Well, for added warmth, the BARE Ultrawarmth gloves incorporate the low-loft Celliant Infrared Technology – 13 thermo-reactive minerals embedded in the fabric of the material catch heat leaving your body, convert it to thermal energy, and reflect it back to your body for maximum warmth and comfort.

Now I have become a convert to drygloves in recent years, and so I was more than a little dubious how warm these wet gloves were going to be, but you know what, that Celliant Infrared Technology really works! They were much warmer than my existing 5mm wet gloves, and even gave my trusty back-up three-finger mitts a run for their money. Okay, so they were not as warm as drygloves, and I didn’t expect them to be, but they are significantly warmer than other 5mm gloves I have tried. Even after two one-hour dives in sub-5 degrees C temperatures, only the tips of my fingers were starting to feel cold, the rest of my hand was still relatively warm.

BARE ULTRAWARMTH BASE LAYERS | TOP - SRP: £79.95 / BOTTOMS – SRP: £69.95 Mark Evans: BARE have also incorporated the Celliant Infrared Technology into their new Ultrawarmth Base Layers. As you have seen above, we saw a real difference between a 5mm glove with the technology and one without, and so we were interested to see how it worked in a base layer. As with most base layers, the advanced stretch-breathable fabric draws moisture away from the body to create a dry zone, while moisture is dispersed over a larger surface for quick evaporation. However, where the Ultrawarmth Base Layers come into their own is through the use of that nifty Celliant Infrared Technology. While the fabric draws the moisture away from your body, the thermo-reactive minerals that are embedded into the material capture your escaping body heat and then reflect it back at you. Having this advanced fabric covering virtually all of your body under your main undersuit and drysuit makes a massive difference to your comfort and warmth underwater. I definitely felt warmer than usual after two one-hour dives in sub-5 degrees C waters. The Ultrawarmth Base Layers are soft and stretchy, and very comfortable next to your skin. They are not bulky at all, so you could wear these under a neoprene or


trilaminate suit and benefit from that Celliant Infrared Technology. They are so light and comfy, I even pressed them into cycling wear when I headed up into the Welsh hills for a spot of winter mountainbiking. There was a serious frost on the ground when we set off, and I was sure glad I had the BARE Base Layers on, but they actually proved to be too warm, and within 30 minutes I had to shed the bottoms, and then a short while later the top went into my rucksack too. They went back on double-quick when we completed our ride and headed into the café for a hot chocolate, though! As we head into the colder months, I’d be checking these out as a New Year present to myself!




Lightweight | Compact | Cold Water Unique Freeze-Resistant First Stage 2 HP Ports | 4 MP Ports Designed For Cold Water Lightweight - Just 905G | 2Lb*

Image © APEKS. All Rights Reserved

*Din Version

Picture: Vis | Croatia

a p e ks div in | @ap eksdivin g | #ap eks d i vi n g

Test Extra


Mark Evans: Back in November 2017, we published an exclusive first test on the lightweight travel-friendly Apeks XL4, which is also cold-water rated, and to give it a proper review, we took it to the chilly waters of Iceland. The XL4 was the travel regulator the Apeks design team always intended the Flight to be. When the Flight was initially being made, the team wanted it to be cold-water rated as well, but it just never came to pass, so the XL4 from the outset was going to be a cold-water-rated, lightweight travel regulator, and after diving it in the cold waters of Silfra in Iceland, I can say that they well and truly achieved their goal. It never missed a beat, even when I breathed rapidly through it and also extensively purged it in 3-4 degrees C water. In fact, it was so good, I forgot I was diving a new regulator and not my usual MTX-R or Black Sapphire. So, what’s different about the XL4+? As with the XL4, the compact, machined first stage of the XL4+ is based on the expedition-tested Apeks DS4 platform, and features a break-through, innovative over-moulded first-stage endcap and environmental diaphragm that helps prevent ice build-up that can cause first stage freeflow in extreme circumstances, as well as protecting the first stage from impact damage. The large surface-area heat exchanger diaphragm clamp helps increase the gas temperature inside the first stage,



Test Extra

APEKS XL4+ | SRP: £401

resulting in improved cold-water performance, while the unique over-balanced diaphragm design – as the diver descends, the over-balancing feature allows the medium pressure gas in the hose to increase at a faster rate than ambient – which results in superior performance at depth. One thing that some divers pulled up was that the XL4 first stage only had one high-pressure port, but that has now been rectified with the XL4+, which is equipped with two high-pressure ports for those that want them. The hose-routing is perfect, with everything falling where it should, and fully rigged for cold-water diving with primary, secondary, SPG, drysuit hose and BCD hose, it comes in at a luggage-friendly 2.25kg. Thanks to its high performance and cold-water rating, Apeks are also promoting the XL4+ as an ideal stage regulator. Apart from the nifty new white colour option, the XL4+ features the same second stage as the standard XL4. It is compact and lightweight, to improve comfort and


reduce jaw fatigue on long dives, and features a highperformance, pneumatically balanced, lever-operated poppet valve, over-moulded self-flushing and controllable purge button, and ergonomic venturi lever that is easy to use and locate. As we noted when we tested the XL4, in looks, the second stage is reminiscent of the Flight, with a wide exhaust tee to direct the exhaled bubbles either side of your face, but the cover is very different, emblazoned with a large ‘A’ on the big purge button. It is a simple aesthetic, but it works, especially in this bright-white colour scheme. We took the XL4+ with us when we completed exploratory dives at the new St Andrews Lakes inland site in Kent, and the water temperature, while not quite Icelandic, was still a rather brisk 5 degrees C at depth, and as with the XL4, it never faltered, delivering a nice, smooth breathe regardless of depth, temperature or orientation. NB: The XL4 octopus is available separately priced £165.


Established by a highly experienced, sports-qualified optometrist, DiveSight provide exact perscription lenses for dive masks and swimming goggles



Long Term Test FINNSUB 20D AND COMFORT HARNESS Mark Evans: The review of the Finnsub 20D and Comfort harness had been on hold for a few months, as the company was busy redesigning the current model, and wanted to send the brand-new look through, but now it is here, so we have reinstated the backplate-and-wing set-up as the first New Arrival of 2019. Designed to work with single or twin tanks (up to a max of two 12-litre cylinders), it is made from Cordura INFORMATION Arrival date: January 2019 TPU-coated for the inner Suggested retail price: £579 material and Cordura 2000 Number of dives: 0 for the outer. Time in water: 0 hrs 0 mins

AQUA LUNG ROGUE Mark Evans: I have been diving the Rogue extensively over the past few months both in the UK and abroad, and it performs in all conditions. It is comfortable, holds you well in the water, and has some neat features, like the drop-down pockets, the built-in Octo pocket, and the knife grommets. I like the toggles for the pull dumps, which are shaped so that they INFORMATION Arrival date: August 2018 naturally fit well into your Suggested retail price: £455 hand, but are not too big Number of dives: 42 and cumbersome. Time in water: 41 hrs 50 mins

SHEARWATER RESEARCH TERIC Mark Evans: I finally managed to get my hands on an elusive Shearwater Research Teric! It was the new arrival a few months ago, but we had to drop it out of the Long Term Test stable as the demand for this innovative wristwatch-style dive computer far outstripped the company’s production capabilities, but now they have got a handle on the popularity of this device and it is taking the market by storm. I picked up mine from Eurotek and immediately popped it on my wrist, where it garnered all sorts of admiring glances. This is down to the ridiculously bright display in ‘watch’ mode - never mind the diving side of things, this makes one very appealing watch! I especially like the fact that it has three means of displaying the time - a ‘normal’ digital display, a digitised set of traditional ‘hands’, and my personal favourite, a moving ball with the time in, that has a smaller ball travelling around the outside INFORMATION Arrival date: December 2018 of the face showing the seconds. You can then also opt in any of these modes to show the Suggested retail price: £918 remaining battery life and also the date, as well as variations on the basic display. Extremely Number of dives: 0 clever and it really allows you to personalise the Teric in day-to-day use. Time in water: 0 hrs 0 mins 94



Mark Evans: The Zeagle Scope Mono has clocked up a few more dives right here in the UK, and I am still enjoying using this mask. I have mentioned the elasticated strap previously as being easy to use and comfortable on the back of your head, but round the front, it is a similar story. The silcione skirt on the Scope Mono is very soft, yet still reasonably firm, so if fits nicely on to your face with INFORMATION Arrival date: September 2018 no distortion, but seals Suggested retail price: £59.95 well and avoids annoying Number of dives: 14 seepage on a dive. Time in water: 13 hrs 20 mins

BARE ULTRAWARMTH 7MM HOOD Mark Evans: The water temperatures have started to get decidedly chilly in recent weeks - it was low singlefigures when I headed down South for an exploratory dip in the new St Andrew’s Lake in Kent - and so I have been happy to be testing the 7mm BARE Ultrawarmth hood. The ‘magic’ is in this lining inside, which is where the Celliant technology - which absorbs your body heat and reflects it back to you - resides. I have to say, it certainly feels warmer than a standard neoprene hood, and is immensely comfortable, tightly fitting around my face and not allowing any cold blasts of exterior water inside while on a dive. The valve on the top also does a reasonable job of venting INFORMATION Arrival date: November 2018 any trapped air inside and Suggested retail price: £64.95 prevening the dreaded Number of dives: 6 ‘cone head’ look. Time in water: 5 hrs 35 mins WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

HALCYON INFINITY Mark Evans: I am a huge fan of back-inflate BCDs, be that purpose-built BCDs with a rear-bladder, or a more-technical backplate-andwing set-up. I just like the uncluttered feel with nothing ‘up front’. The Infinity definitely ticks that box, and once it is on, you just have the straps and the compact integrated weight pockets to the front and side of you, all the business side of things is on your back. One thing I have noticed is how comfortable it is, and that is down the well-padded back pad, which just feels INFORMATION Arrival date: October 2018 so good against your back Suggested retail price: £777 muscles. It looks pretty Number of dives: 7 cool, too. Time in water: 6 hrs 50 mins

MOMENTUM DEEP 6 Mark Evans: The Momentum Deep 6 has reached the end of its stint in Long Term Test, and I will be sad to see it go off back to Nautilus. I have dutifully been diving with it on to give it a proper test, but as I mentioned in a previous review, I tend to dive with just my dive computer on, but it is nice to be able to wear something on my wrist apres-dive which says ‘I am a diver’ without being too over the top, is INFORMATION Arrival date: June 2018 extremely comfortable, and Suggested retail price: £195 looks very cool to boot! A Number of dives: 24 real winner for under £200! Time in water: 22 hrs 30 mins 95

















Cozumel, Mexico

Kimmeridge Bay

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Egypt club trip

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The GO Diving show at the Ricoh Arena from 22-24 February is a three-day event – a consumer weekend fronted by a trade-only day on the Friday


he GO Diving show is a brand-new, interactive and engaging dive show aimed at existing divers and those interested in entering the sport, but as well as having a weekend for consumers, there is a dedicated trade-only day on the Friday. Only open to those working within the diving industry or special invite-only guests, the GO Diving Trade Day should be on your ‘must-visit’ list for 2019. Manufacturers and training agencies are already planning to run seminars, workshops and members updates during the day, alongside discussion panels incorporating various dive industry gurus, and keynote speakers explaining how to improve your bottom line, make the most of your website and Social Media, and much, much more. Headline speakers Andy Torbet and Jill Heinerth will be presenting trade-orientated talks – Andy will be discussing how to overcome challenges faced ‘on the job’, and Jill will share expedition tales in a way that will inspire scuba professionals to step into the darkness and embrace the unknown. Join them for sessions that will reinvigorate your outlook on life as a dive pro. The exhibition hall will be open from 12 noon to 6pm, but seminars and dealer updates will be happening from 9am in the two adjoining suites at the Ricoh Arena. There will also be a drinks reception within the exhibition hall in the early evening for further networking in a Follow us on social media more-social atmosphere – and the at /godivingshow to get legendary Scuba Diver Industry Party the latest updates on the will be back with a vengeance from show – use the hashtag 7pm-12pm in the art deco lounge #GODiving handily located downstairs underneath the main exhibition hall.


GETTING YOUR TICKETS To be able to attend the trade day, you need to purchase a trade-ticket for £10.70 and then submit your credentials, and valid photographic ID will be required in the same name as the ticket to collect your entry badge on the day of the show. To obtain tickets, you need to log on to:


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