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ISSUE 22 | DEC 18 | £3.25



Extreme UW Filming


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EDITOR’S NOTE What are your diving

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS? And so another year comes to an end. It has been a whirlwind 2018, notching up a second year for Scuba Diver magazine, launching our area-specific Asia-Pacific version, and now being in the throes of organising the inaugural GO Diving show (which as you all know is happening at the Ricoh Arena on 23/24 February 2019). I have had some epic dives in Murcia, Grenada and especially Fiji - an unexpected encounter with a fiesty three-metre-plus tiger shark has a habit of sticking in your memory! - as well as right here in the UK. And I am sure that 2019 holds plenty more of the same in store for me. However, I also want to expand my horizons, and so after years of being brow-beaten by my friends over at, I am finally going to succumb and have made my first New Year’s Resolution - ‘try something new in diving’, which in my case means signing up for my first-ever freediving courses. Whether I will get bitten by the bug, or just dip my toe into the world of breath-hold remains to be seen, but there is something refreshing about stepping out of your comfort zone. I have dabbled with CCRs and sidemount in the past, and while it is not something I am smitten with, I am pleased that I have at least given them a go and got the certs under my belt. I may drift back into this realm, who knows? I have a lousy breath-hold at the moment, I will freely admit, so I am intrigued to see what I can achieve with some proper guidance and training. One thing I can say for certain is that I will never, ever be venturing into cave diving, it just doesn’t hold any appeal to me, but I love to see photographs and footage from deep inside systems around the world, and as Andy Torbet explains this issue, getting those shots is far from easy. It gives you a whole new level of respect for these guys. Here’s a challenge. Drop me an email about your diving aims for 2019 and let’s see how many of us manage to tick them off the bucket list before the end of the year.

MARK EVANS, Editor-in-Chief


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ISSN 2514-2054














ISSUE 22 | DEC 18 | £3.25



Extreme UW Filming



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26/11/2018 12:13



Awards a-plenty for Deptherapy, new members of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, and a fresh look for the blue o two website.

Adventurer, tech diver and TV favourite Andy Torbet concludes his articles looking at extreme underwater filming, this time looking at the challenges of lighting on deep dives or in overhead environments.

8 News

22 Extreme underwater filming, part two

28 Dive like a Pro

32 Fiji

38 Underwater Photography

42 The Scilly Isles

69 Our-World UW Scholar

48 Indonesia

A panel of training agency experts offer some sage advice on ways to keep yourself fit during the winter months if you are not diving.

Mario Vitalini focuses his attention on cavern diving and how to shoot these sometimes challenging sites.

Eric Jorda gets sidemount certified with Garry Dallas and also completes some TDI tech courses with Mark Powell.


Fiji is often touted as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ and Mark Evans flew halfway around the world to see if this much-hyped reputation was something the island archipelago could live up to.

The Scilly Isles hold a special place in Roisin Maddison’s heart, and here she waxes lyrical about what draws her back to this tiny island, including the scenic shipwrecks and friendly seals.

Rose and Udo Kefrig find themselves in ‘fish soup’ when they board the luxurious Amira liveaboard for a packed intinerary into the depths of Alor.



54 ABOVE 18m: Portland

Stuart Philpott notches up another Above 18m dive, this time exploring the wreckage of the James Fennel off Portland, which is teeming with marine life and lies in just 14m-16m.

70 Q&A: Stuart Cove

Stuart Cove is a living legend in the world of diving, and here Scuba Diver chats to the Bahama-based icon about shark wrangling, dealing with Hollywood and diving with a host of celebrities.


Kirrah Higgins discusses how diving has helped her deal with various challenges in her young life, while Bill and Sally Painter talk about why they enjoy teaching youngsters to dive.

80 TECHNICAL: Ireland

Jason Brown and Graham Blackmore reckon that the wartime shipwrecks that lie off the coast of Ireland at Malin Head deserve to be on the bucket list of every technical diver.



84 What’s New: DEMA Special

Scuba Diver’s Online Editor Lorna Dockerill presents a round-up of some of the new releases on display at the annual DEMA trade show, which was held in Las Vegas at the end of November.

86 Group Test

The Scuba Diver Test Team heads to Llanberis in North Wales to review a selection of top-of-theline fins - price at over £100 - from a range of manufacturers.

94 Long Term Test

The Scuba Diver Test Team reviews a selection of products over a six-month period, including the Aqua Lung Rogue BCD, Momentum Deep 6 watch, Zeagle Scope Mono mask, Halcyon Infinity wing, and the Mares Quad Air dive computer.



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 social media. | .com/scubadivermag | @scubadivermag


CELEBRATES TRIPLE SUCCESS Multi-award-winning charity Deptherapy has added to its haul of well-deserved accolades, gaining the Veterans’ Foundation Award during the Heropreneurs Awards, while one of its members has been nominated for a prestigious award, and become the world’s first triple-amputee PADI Rescue Diver PHOTOGRAPHS BY DMITRY KNYAZEV, STUART GREEN AND COURTESY OF HEROPRENEURS


he sterling work of scuba rehabilitation charity Deptherapy has been recognised once again with a prestigious military award. Dr Richard Cullen, chairman and one of the founders of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education, was presented with the Veterans’ Foundation Award at the Heropreneurs Awards in association with The Telegraph, celebrated recently in London. As part of this recognition, the charity receives a much-needed donation of £10,000 from sponsor, The Veterans’ Foundation. Peter Mountford, the chairman of Heropreneurs and founder of the Heropreneurs Awards, said: “The Heropreneurs Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of anyone who has served in the Armed Forces, and their dependants, in the world of business. Richard has created a charity that is very special. Helping injured veterans through scuba diving is a proven and effective method, and I am delighted that Richard has won this award”. This exciting announcement follows a month of outstanding achievements for the charity. Last week, Deptherapy announced that Team Member Josh Boggi had been nominated in the Royal Foundation’s 2019 Endeavour Fund Awards, which follows Ben Lee’s award earlier this year.

Josh Boggi in Egypt on expedition with Deptherapy


Dr Richard Cullen collects the Veterans’ Foundation Award alongside Josh Boggi

Former Royal Engineer Josh first dived with Deptherapy in 2017 and has subsequently followed a continuing education programme with the charity that last month saw him achieve his Rescue Diver qualification while on expedition in Egypt. Josh is now the world’s first triple-amputee PADI Rescue Diver. He explained: “I first tried scuba diving in the Maldives in 2016 and fell in love with it instantly. After joining Deptherapy, I qualified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver in Egypt and continued my diving education with the charity in Truk Lagoon. This October, I returned to Egypt to attempt to complete my PADI Rescue Diver course. “I was under no illusion that this would be easy and I was told I would have to hit standards, and then some, to pass the course. It was physically and mentally hard, and at times frustrating, but I managed to adapt and overcome


Richard Cullen back from a dive in Egyptw



all the challenges that were thrown at me and I passed! Becoming the world’s first triple-amputee PADI Rescue Diver is great, but not why I did it - I wanted to further my diving education and become a better diver. “The ocean terrifies me; every time I go underwater I think I am going to be attacked by something bigger than me, but this is exactly why I do it. It takes me out of my comfort zone and puts me in a position where I am constantly being challenged. Doing these endeavours helps me to overcome that fear and to prove people wrong when they question how a triple amputee can be a Rescue Diver.” The 2019 Endeavour Fund Award Winners will be announced at a special ceremony on 7 February in London.


Chairman and founder of Deptherapy, Dr Richard Cullen, with programme members in Egypt


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

INDUSTRY NEWS Photograph credit: Helen Armstrong and Peri-Peri Divers (


In one week, marine conservation charity the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) was shocked to find not one, but two turtles severely hurt as a result of human activity. One of the charity’s volunteers Genaye Domenico - was scuba diving with Peri-Peri Divers in Tofo Beach, Mozambique, when they came across a juvenile hawksbill turtle caught in plastic. Genaye and Peri-Peri dive instructor Helen Armstrong worked together to quickly free the turtle and release it back to the ocean. Soon after, they found a loggerhead sea turtle - still alive - with a spear (still attached to the spear gun) piercing its neck. They carefully took hold of the injured turtle, lifted it on to the boat, and were able to remove the spear using wire cutters. Luckily, the spear didn’t seem to have pierced any vital organs and, once returned to the ocean free of the painful spear, the turtle dived down and swam away. The area’s Community Fisheries Council (CCP) and coastal police were quick to respond, taking the speargun into evidence and launching an investigation. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, loggerhead turtles are currently listed as vulnerable, and hawksbill turtles are critically endangered. These horrific images highlight how not only plastic, but other human activities threaten these beautiful but endangered creatures. Mariana Coelho, MMF’s Mozambique Country Director, said: “We were all shocked and saddened to find these two injured turtles in the bay within minutes of each other. Thanks to the quick responses of the volunteers and staff on the boat, these beautiful animals were able to be rescued and released back into the ocean. We expect they will now visit a cleaning station to prevent infection in their open wounds and hope both animals will recover fully.” MMF works with the local community in Tofo, and neighbouring communities, to help them improve sustainable fishing practices and ocean conservation. The charity’s vision is a world in which marine life and humans thrive together and they aspire to attain it by saving threatened marine life.



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WOMEN DIVERS HALL OF FAME WELCOMES NINE NEW MEMBERS IN 2019 Dedicated to recognising and honouring the contributions of women divers, the Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) is an international non-profit professional honour society whose member contributions span a wide variety of fields. The Hall is proud to announce the selection of nine new members who will constitute the Class of 2019: Twila Bratcher-Critchlow (1911-2006) – Diving pioneer, philanthropist, malacologist Twila Bratcher was a diving pioneer and adventurer, and learned diving from Conrad Limbaugh in 1951 and E.R. Cross in 1953. Tanya G. Burnett, Florida, USA – Ocean ambassador, underwater photographer, expedition leader Tanya was a co-founder of TDI, and is a professional underwater photographer and writer, having authored and/or produced images for over 100 published articles in dive and travel magazines. Honor Frost (1917-2010) – Underwater archaeologist, philanthropist, archaeological pioneer Honor Frost was a scholar, explorer, author, and underwater archaeologist. Sabine Kerkau, Germany and Switzerland – Technical diver, photographer, wreck conservationist Sabine Kerkau is a technical wreck and mine diver, writer and photographer. She has dived on several hundred wrecks down to 125m, and has identified many new wrecks. Sara Olsen, USN, Maryland, USA – Diving project leader, unit commander, non-profit visionary


Sara became a Navy Diving Officer in 2000. Her life of service began aboard USS Grapple before becoming an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer trained in underwater mine disposal. Ellen Cuylaerts, Belgium and Cayman Islands – Ocean advocate, photographer, explorer Ellen Cuylaerts is an international, award-winning underwater photographer, ocean advocate and visionary. Ellen was inducted into the Ocean Arts Society, and accepted as a Fellow International in the Explorers Club. Julie Ouimet, Quebec, Canada – Explorer, expedition cinematographer, conservationist Julie is an expedition videographer, film-maker and professional diver. She is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, and a Member of the Ocean Artists Society. Dora Sandoval, Texas, USA – Dive travel leader, non-profit founder, marine conservationist Dora is the co-owner/operator of Rocio del Mar and Quino el Guardian liveaboards in Mexico. Susan L. Williams, Ph.D. (1951-2018) – Marine biologist, conservationist, sanctuary advocate Dr Susan Williams was an American marine biologist and Distinguished Professor of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California, Davis. For more information about the Women Divers Hall of Fame, log on to:








INDUSTRY NEWS RED SEA PHOTO WORKSHOP WITH SAEED RASHID Award-winning photographer Saeed Rashid has teamed up with Oonasdivers to offer a new underwater photography workshop taking place at Red Sea Diving Safari’s Marsa Nakari, a unique Southern Red Sea village that offers divers exclusive access to many world-famous offshore reefs, and benefits from an extensive and diverse house reef minutes from shore, with hard and soft corals of offshore quality. Saeed is a lecturer at Bournemouth University, popular speaker at UK dive shows, and member of BSoUP. He is a popular choice for photography workshops for his approachability, energy, enthusiasm and sense of fun, which will make your experience memorable as well as informative. Saeed’s expertise coupled with Red Sea Diving Safari’s unique and relaxed atmosphere is a perfect combination to help you to develop your skills to capture your subject to its full potential underwater, then when back on land guide you through a series of simple post-production techniques. Price for the trips, which runs from 9-16 September, includes seven nights’ accommodation in a Beach Safari Tent, full board and selected soft drinks, six days’ unlimited house reef diving, five-day photo workshop, Egypt entrance visa, flights and transfers from Birmingham to Marsa Alam (other flight options available, price available on request).



Since 2015, Mike’s Dive Store has been raising money for UK marine conservation activities by supporting the charity Sea-Changers. Mike’s, a leading and long established diving retailer, donates one percent of the value of all of its online sales to the charity. Customers are invited to match the company’s generosity and make their own donations too. The money raised feeds into Sea-Changers’ grant fund, which is distributed to UK-based marine conservation projects. Mike’s Dive Store has chosen to demonstrate its already strong environmental commitment and it has recently reached the milestone of raising over £10,000 in this way. The company is one of a growing community of Sea-Changer businesses and individuals who are passionate about giving something back to the seas they love. Sea-Changers distributes the donated money, in accordance with their funding policy, to a range of projects engaged in direct marine clean-up action, education and awareness raising about marine conservation issues, species and habitat protection, and conservation research. Many of the projects they fund undertake grassroots community conservation work that simply would not take place without the Sea-Changers grant. Steve Brown, MD at Mike’s Dive Store, said: “The UK’s seas give Mike’s Dive Store’s customers a rich variety of opportunities to enjoy their sport. We are delighted to play our part in making sure there are healthy oceans and coastlines for future generations of divers to enjoy and learn from. We are proud to have reached this fundraising milestone.”



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PROJECT AWARE WELCOMES NEW ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, POLICY AND CAMPAIGNS Project AWARE is honoured to welcome Ian Campbell as the international marine conservation non-profit organisation’s new Associate Director, Policy and Campaigns. Ian Campbell draws from 20 years’ experience in marine conservation, working in the public, private and NGO sectors. His extensive international work experience and background as marine surveyor, commercial diver, fisheries officer, and author and consultant on policy matters, including the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, have led Ian to focus, throughout his professional career, on reducing impacts of commercial fisheries, habitat protection and sustainable shark and ray tourism. Ian comes to Project AWARE from World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), where he was leading and managing complex shark and ray conservation initiatives and projects including heading up the Pacific Shark Heritage Programme and overseeing engagements with the international fisheries bodies, global conservation agreements and development of national conservation policies. In 2014, Ian was the technical specialist for the Fiji government delegation to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), successfully adding manta and mobula rays to the Convention. This success was repeated in 2016 when mobula rays were adopted under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Ian joins the Project AWARE global team working to empower a movement of ocean adventurers to take action for a return to a clean, healthy ocean.

LAST CALL FOR FESTIVE SANTA DIVE With the last few days of 2018 upon us, there’s still time to chalk up one last cheeky last dive before the bells chime on a new year. Why not make it one that counts by heading down to Vobster Quay on Sunday 16 December for their annual festive fundraiser, Vobster Santas? Getting involved in Vobster Santas couldn’t be simpler. Just register yourself at and then get all your friends and family to sponsor you as you join up to 200 other crazy Santa divers for a mass dive! It’s fun, festive and all in a good cause – every single penny gets donated to the Royal National Lifeboard Institution. Vobster will also be raising money for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance with a festive raffle run on the same day. With tickets costing just £1 each, you’ll be in with a great chance of winning some superb prizes donated by Apeks, Fourth Element, Kent Tooling, Miflex UK, Otter Drysuits, KUBI and Best Divers.





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INDUSTRY NEWS DIVE SPECIALIST TOUR OPERATOR BLUE O TWO GETS A BRAND-NEW WEBSITE blue o two are extremely proud to finally launch their brand-new website. The much-loved vintage website served blue o two well, but the time has come to move on. With an easy-to-navigate mobile and tablet-friendly design and exciting new features, blue o two would like to thank customers for their extremely useful feedback in helping create the new website. They wanted to create a website that provides customers with the best possible experience.

SEA INVADERS – DON’T LET IT BE ‘GAME OVER’ FOR SHARKS Forty years after Space Invaders captured the imagination of video gamers around the world, Bite-Back Shark and Marine Conservation has replicated the iconic format in a short animation — Sea Invaders — to highlight the speed and ferocity of industrial shark fishing and the urgent need to support shark conservation efforts. In the time it takes to watch the 60-second film, 120 sharks will be killed around the world. On screen, the film plays out in ‘real time’, with two sharks being slaughtered every second. As each shark is killed by the fishing boat, it explodes to reveal a shark fin, the most-valuable part of shark, used as the title ingredient in shark-fin soup. Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “In the 40 years since Space Invaders appeared in arcades, many shark populations have shifted closer towards extinction. It’s no longer enough for a small section of the public to be concerned about the unsustainable fishing of global shark populations. We’re not going to let it be game over for sharks and hope that people who watch this will feel compelled to stand up for sharks and join forces with Bite-Back.”


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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 non-diving conditions. He remains a passionate diver and has participated in various expeditions and conservation projects throughout the globe.

Q: I’m getting fed up with my dive club making jokes about how bad my gas consumption is. I admit I’m not the slimmest card in the pack but I’ve been trying to exercise more, going to the gym and swimming twice a week. My girlfriend does yoga and thinks I should try it as she reckons it makes your lungs bigger. I always thought it was a bit weird but I’ll give it a go if it makes me less of an air pig. Is this true, or would I be wasting my time? A: Yoga has come a long way from being a vaguely disconcerting habit of quirky hippies in the 1970s. There are now specific scuba-orientated yoga trips the world over, from the Bahamas to the Red Sea. So how can gaining inner peace benefit the humble diver? For a diver, the essential elements of yoga can significantly reduce the likelihood of injury. Specific exercises can improve core stability, working on the lower back to protect it from the trauma of twinsets and weightbelts. Targeting the legs and hips can improve finning (both technique and stamina). The breathing exercises that are fundamental to yoga are also ideal for improving lung capacity and encouraging effective breathing during hard exertion. Ultimately this will extend bottom times and reduce feelings of panic underwater, which we all want, don’t we. And what of the more, ah, spiritual aspects to the ancient Yogic arts? Visualisation techniques in yoga are often practised by freedivers, and can help prepare any diver for challenging or particularly strenuous dives. So before belittling the posh toffs of yogaland too much it’s worth giving the practice a chance to make us better divers. Q: In the summer I went diving in


Milford Sound in New Zealand. It was amazing, green water, the vis wasn’t great but stacks of critters and strange fish there. Anyway, I dived in a lot of wetsuit – I had 15mm of neoprene on and could hardly bend my knees or elbows! Despite all the rubber I still felt really cold on the dives, and the dive guide poured flasks of hot water down our backs during the surface interval. When I got back to the campsite I found a strange rash on my arms and legs, lots of little raised bumps, different sizes, which were really itchy. I went straight back to the dive shop and they sent me to a doctor. Thankfully she didn’t think it was DCI (and I couldn’t believe it was either as we only did two dives and they were really safe). She thought it was an allergic reaction to the cold, but I’ve never had that before. I didn’t get any other symptoms but the bumps are still there, four months later. Was she right, or should I come and see you? A: The rash you’re describing sounds very unlike the classic mottled appearance of a skin bend, and I’ve never heard of one lasting four months. In the absence of any other symptoms, I think DCI is unlikely; this sounds to me like something called cold urticaria. It is indeed a form of allergy, triggered by exposure to cold, where hives, wheals or bumps form on the skin. They can be incredibly itchy, and last for anywhere from minutes to months. The treatment is pure rocket science – stay warm. Antihistamines will sometimes help the itch and possibly reduce the number of hives. Although it sounds trivial, cold urticaria can sometimes result in serious anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal, so more severe sufferers should carry an adrenaline injection around with them.


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Next month’s issue:

28/11/2016 10:14

Next issue available 10th January







Andy Torbet films a unique 360-degree film deep inside a French cave system Second liveaboard and Nile cruiser in Egypt for Aggressor - we check them out The GO Diving keynote speaker talks TV, expeditions and dealing with big animals


Jeremy Cuff goes UK diving with a difference, visiting Jersey’s Bouley Bay Indonesia is renowned for its marine life, but tech diving? Byron Conroy finds out The Test Team see in the New Year with a collection of Test Extras on new kit


In the utter blackness of a cave or mine, it is easy to bring a torch or three, but when filming it can be difficult to deal with the extreme contrast of the bright light against the utter dark

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





In the concluding part of his series looking at challenging underwater filming, Andy Torbet recalls Britannic-lighting via sub, and dealing with cold and dark in Ojamo mine PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF ANDY TORBET


he first significant piece of filming I did in a real cave-diving situation was back in 2013. The BBC had asked me to dive a partially explored (some of it by me on solo projects) flooded mine system near Llangollen in Wales. We were using the dive to film some of the artefacts, machinery and even graffiti left by the miners in the late-1930s before the mine was closed, the pumps disabled and the lower levels flooded. The diving footage would become a vehicle to look at pre-World War Two mining and the decline of the industry nationally. In these situations you can’t follow the usual practices for media diving operations. Careful consideration had to be given to the personnel, where we’d site them and what equipment we’d use to both capture the footage we needed in the single, two-hour dive we had and to make sure we were safe and adhered to all the Health and Safety At Work criteria. It’s often more complicated doing these types of dives for work than recreationally as there is a duty of care over everyone being employed. You’re there to get the right shots but it’s more important that no one gets injured or killed. After all, and I’ve had to remind people of this in the past, it’s only telly and it’s just not worth dying for. In cave diving, sometimes less is more, and inserting extra divers into a confined space is not necessarily safer. The cameraman, Rich Stevenson, and I have been cave-diving and filming together for years so we work well as a buddy pair. It helps, when you only have one dive to capture all the footage in some testing conditions, to be in tune with your partner. And these were testing conditions. The depth was only 30m so we were only using air as our diluent gas on our rebreather. We chose to use rebreathers as they’d not only give us maximum filming time on our one-and-only dive but also the lack of bubbles was an advantage. There have been cases where the bubbles from the exhaled breath of a diver on scuba has caused the fragile roof of a mine, supported by the relatively dense water, to collapse. The visibility was generally good and the water was a balmy 9 degrees C. But in the absolute darkness the biggest problem we had was light. In the utter blackness of a cave or mine, it is easy to bring a torch or three, but when filming it can be difficult to deal with the extreme contrast of the bright light against the utter dark. Even the best camera can’t deal with contrasts in light as well as the human eye, but by dropping lights in specific places, me keeping my personal torch on the lowest setting and Rich using two specialised underwater filming lights with extremely wide beams on a low power setting we - and by we, I really mean he - managed to pull off some stunning images.




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MINE ALL MINE Since that first cave-diving filming dive, we’ve shot a huge amount of material underground both in the UK and abroad. But one of the most intense and technical shoots was for an independent sci-fi short called Dive Odyssey. The film itself is a beautiful, cinematic experience. It was the brainchild of Janne Suhonen and was shot in Finland. Although the closing scenes were all done in a nice warm swimming pool in Helsinki, the main action was shot deep in Ojamo Mine at Hell’s Gate and Lucifer’s Pillar. Unlike the dive in Llangollen, this was a big team operation. At one time we had two ‘actors’, myself and Gemma Smith, two cameramen, and as many as seven support divers carrying equipment and lights to illuminate the huge underwater scenes. Hell’s Gate is the entrance through the megalithic concrete wall built by the miners to support the roof. As they burrowed beneath the earth, they realised they had under-mined the lake above and the roof would need supporting in order to prevent a catastrophic breakthrough of lake water. The wall stretches across a huge chamber, cutting it in two and is over 16 metres high. Through Hell’s Gate and down deeper into the mine lies Lucifer’s Pillar, a gigantic concrete column designed to support the roof and prevent the same disasters as Hell’s Gate. The problem with illuminating these locations were not simply the darkness but the vast spaces in which it existed. Often the problem with lighting a tight limestone cave is the torch-beam bounces off the white walls and over-lights become hard to manage, blowing out the shot and making certain parts over-exposed. We had the opposite problem, which is why such a large crew of divers were required. So before each dive Janne would go through a long, detailed and often necessarily complicated brief to ensure every one of the team knew where they had to be, where their lights had to be pointed and on which power setting there lights had to be. Even myself and Gemma carried two torches to self-light or, if only one of us was required for the scene, act as another ‘underwater light stand’. It was difficult but engaging work to take part in and watch as the team tried to ensure all the areas were lit correctly, some with just a hint of shadow and others in more detail, and the main focus of the action, usually the ‘actors’, were fully lit to ensure that was where the viewer was focused on. The results were spectacular, and the full film was premiered at the Underwater Film Festival to great acclaim.

Deep in Ojamo mine in Finland

Cave and mine diving brings lighting challenges Lighting by sub on the Britannic

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Andy ready for a Britannic dive


ROVs also supported the divers’ lighting requirements

Performing to camera while on a deco stop


Of course, the necessity to overcome darkness in technical diving doesn’t only come when you enter the subterranean world. Sometimes submerging beneath the surface is all you have to do… provided you go deep enough. In 2016 we produced a documentary for BBC2 to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of HMHS Britannic, twin sister of Titanic and seconded into service as a hospital ship in World War One. The wreck lies, beautifully preserved and almost entirely intact apart from some damage near the bow where she struck a German sea-mine, 120m below the surface of the Aegean Sea. We dived Britannic near midday on a bright, cloudless day typical of Greece in the summer. We stepped off our palatial research vessel and dropped into the azure blue. But as we drifted down, freefalling through the water column, the abundance of natural light diminished. But the combination of the clarity of the water, with almost 30 metres visibility, and the over-head sun meant we could easily make out the shipwreck as we touched down on her port side. But this ambient light, although sufficient to navigate the remains of this giant vessel as she stretched out almost 300 metres in length, was not enough to discern the details, colours and textures we need to film. We had known this would be the case and Evan Kovacs, the cameraman on this trip, had mounted huge, twin filming lamps to his camera. But we had another ace in the hole. To be able to light up huge sections of the ship, to really capture the vast metallic landscape, we need to floodlight whole areas. Fortunately, our dive boat was better equipped than any I’d ever been on. The crew deployed a large ROV and a three-man submersible, the latter of which had huge floodlights, to illuminate panoramic shots of the ship with the tiny divers among the wreckage to give true scale to the scene. There is a lot to think about when deep diving or cave diving. Add to this the tasks of operating a camera, lights, presenting to camera underwater, keeping track of shot lists and scripts, improvising shots and scripts if the situation underwater is not as expected or something interesting happens, and you have a lot to think about. But you are there to do a job, the diving is merely the vehicle to get you to your place of work. But when that place of work is in darkness, the job becomes all the more necessary and often the lighting plan, regardless of how technical and difficult the diving may appear, will become the most in-depth part of the brief. If you can’t come back with the right shots, then there was no point going in the first place. n



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Our panel of industry experts look at ways in which to keep yourself dive-fit during the winter months PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS


UE’s John Kendall said: “So the absolute best way of staying dive fit during the winter months is not to stop diving. Winter conditions, while cold, can give amazing visibility and some incredible dives. If, however, you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the dark to try and kit up with snow on the ground, then there are a number of things that you can do to get yourself in top condition ready for the start of next season. “The best thing you can do is to take the opportunity to increase your fitness. Get in the pool, doesn’t matter how good you are, try and get swimming regularly. Set yourself goals (number of lengths, or time of constant swimming) that are achievable, but that challenge you. Swimming works all your muscle groups, but also is great for increasing cardiovascular health. It’s also a really good idea to link up with a local shop or club who have weekly pool sessions. Doing a pool session once a month gives you the chance to practice those skills that you haven’t tried in some time, while also keeping your core competencies at an okay level. “If you are taking time off, then use the break to make sure that all of your equipment is serviced or repaired. This is a great time to make sure that your drysuit is actually dry, that the seals and zip are in good condition, and that everything will be ready for your next dive. Finally, consider a warm-water trip. Southern Europe, the Mediterranean or the tropics can have some great travel deals from the UK in the winter, especially if you are able to avoid the peak school holiday times.”





Emily Petley-Jones, PADI Examiner and Regional Training Consultant, said: “Personally, when we come into the colder months, I keep diving! If the weather is unsuitable for diving around the coast, the UK benefits from a fantastic range of really well-equipped inland dive site that are open year round. Some of my best dives at the inland sites have been in the winter, as the visibility in the lakes and quarries is generally better in the winter than it is in the summer. I have even managed a cheeky ice dive in the UK before. Do make sure all your kit is rated for cold water, and if you haven’t tried one before, this is a great time to complete your drysuit training! “If the thought of diving in 4°C water really does not appeal, and you choose to hang up your regulators over winter, then it is a really good idea to maintain your fitness. You might find that your local dive centre has pool workshops in place which you can participate in, or they may be running courses such as Freediver, which will teach you a different discipline, and keep you active. “Going to the gym or going swimming are obvious options for keeping fit, but even changing day-to-day activities can be beneficial. For example, taking the stairs instead of the lift, or getting off the bus three stops early and walking the rest of the way.” Tim Clements from IANTD commented: “It’s winter, it’s cold, the sea is dark and wavy. What can we do to get a good start on the next dive season? As well as the obvious gear maintenance, research and conference attendance activities, we can help our diving in a few simple ways. The first could be overall fitness. That could be as simple as maintaining our fitness from the current season, or it could be an early New Year’s resolution to be in better shape for next year. Diving fitness falls into two main categories – cardiovascular fitness and specific activity fitness. There are plenty of opportunities to talk to expert trainers at gyms, etc, for specific guidance on exercises or programmes, but when you do, perhaps talk them through what muscles you use when diving. “General cardio will build blood supply, cut down on fat and generally improve our decompression safety margin. Easy exercises consist of making the effort to maintain brisk walks or cycles instead of endless scuba facebook – that will do your blood pressure good too. Beyond that, a targeted programme of building endurance will deliver benefits for your diving. “Specific fitness depends on what you do – shutdowns are a good example. Keeping flexible and supple helps this skill to make your safety procedures more assured. Better safety, better mental state = more enjoyable and productive diving.  “Diving doesn’t have to stop. A few skills circuits during the winter will keep you sharp for diving. You don’t have to log endless cold hours, but you’ll stay dive ready for any weather windows that pop up during January or February high pressure systems – keep an eye out and in touch with skippers. Again, dive sensibly – you stay fresh for a summer of diving with gentler dives during the winter.” n




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Spot the scorpionfish

Fiji is known as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’, but does it deserve this title, and is it worth travelling thousands of miles to dive this South Pacific archipelago? Mark Evans says ‘yes’ - and here he explains why PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK EVANS


et’s get this out of the way right now. Fiji is a hell of a long way from the UK. In fact, if you look on a globe, it is pretty much the opposite side of the planet. Which means it takes some long flights to get there. With dive locations such as the Red Sea, the Maldives and even South East Asia being far closer, is it really worth travelling such a long distance for a diving holiday? The answer, quite simply, is a resounding ‘yes’! Fiji had always been on my bucket list as a dive destination, and earlier this year I finally got to tick that box, flying to Singapore and then on to Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, before finally ending up at the Volivoli Beach Resort nestled on the northern tip of the island. Sat on a headland looking out towards Vanua Levu – the second-biggest island (there are more than 330 Fijian islands in total, in case you were wondering) – it enjoys enviable views across Bligh Waters, which are home to more than 50 dive sites, most of which are no more than 20 minutes from the resort.

Swim-through covered in coral

Stonefish sat on a hard coral


Soft coral is what Fiji is renowned for, and soft coral is what we got when we jumped in at sites with names such as Mellow Yellow, Garden of Eden, Wheatfields, Heartbreak Ridge and Black Magic Mountain. On each and every one of them, I was blown away by the sheer proliferation of soft corals and sponges, which adorned every square centimetre of available reef space. As if this riot of colour was not enough of a visual feast, you then had swarms of reef fish roaming through the coral, while in the blue waters above shoals of barracuda and jacks cruised effortlessly on the look out for prey. The dive guides are justifiably proud of their local reefs, and take great pleasure in showing you its delights, including on one site a tiny pygmy seahorse



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On each and every one of them, I was blown away by the sheer proliferation of soft corals and sponges, which adorned every square centimetre of available reef space Stunning views enroute to dive sites

Soft corals achieve great size

nestled in the midst of a small gorgonian tucked into a swimthrough. God knows how he found it in the first place! Some of the sites can have relatively strong currents, but that is why the soft corals are so healthy and vibrant – this constant flow of water brings plenty of nutrients. However, on the flipside there are also dive sites that are in fairly benign waters and the reefs come quite shallow, meaning whatever your level of experience, the dive crew can put you on a site that is suitable for your qualification. Photographers will be in their element, particularly those who enjoy capturing dramatic, eye-catching wide-angle reef shots, but don’t forget your macro lens, because as well as the aforementioned pygmy seahorse, the Fiji reefs were swarming with nudibranchs, flatworms, and various species of tiny crustacean. Not all the sites require a boat journey – right off the small beach in front of the Volivoli Beach Resort you can explore scattered coral bommies on a sandy bottom. Depending on the state of the tide, you can either get several metres of visibility or, as we encountered tagging it on to the end of a ‘normal’ boat-diving day, less than a metre. However, it was worth jumping into the UK-esque conditions with our trusty guide as he promised seahorses and frogfish, and duly


The Volivoli Beach Resort is a true family affair. Opened in 2005, it is run by Kiwis Steve and Gail, along with their sons Steve Jnr and Nick. Initially in the country as part of a construction project on the Kings Road, it didn’t take long for the family to become immersed in the local culture, with Steve Jnr and Nick going to school in the village of Rakiraki. Over the years, what started with Ra Divers in the 1980s has developed into the boutique resort that Volivoli is today, with high-end accommodation offering amazing views, absolutely divine food, as well as plenty of diving and fishing on tap, not to mention a lovely pool and day spa for when you want to relax. The soft coral growth is immense


Frogfish in the shallows and lousy vis - off the beach

In less than 25 minutes of swimming around in the murk, we found four sixinch-long seahorses and then a chunky frogfish perched on a piece of sponge protruding up from a coral head delivered. In less than 25 minutes of swimming around in the murk, we found four six-inch-long seahorses and then a chunky frogfish perched on a piece of sponge protruding up from a coral head. From his animated celebrations underwater, I think our guide was very happy with his discoveries!

The reefs are simply amazing

CONCLUSION So does Fiji deserve its title? Being brutally honest, I have dived on several reefs – notably Small Brother and Ras Mohammed – in the Egyptian Red Sea that can give Fiji a serious run for its money in the soft-coral stakes, but as we all know, in this day and age it is not just about the actual diving. Fiji has a real charm to it - the people are immensely friendly and welcoming, the topside scenery is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and the reef diving is right up there with the best, which as a combo package is pretty hard to beat. In my case, throw in the comfortable accommodations, attentive staff and exquisite food at Volivoli Beach Resort and Ra Divers, and you have all the ingredients needed for a truly memorable diving holiday. I, for one, cannot wait to make the long trek back to Fiji. n


You can’t go all the way to Fiji and not head down to Pacific Harbour on the south of Viti Levu to experience a dive or two with the immense bull sharks of Beqa Lagoon. Beqa Adventure Divers and Aqua Trek both offer this up close and personal encounter with some of the world’s largest bull sharks – not to mention the odd ‘guest’ tiger shark – and it is something that will remain with you forever. See a future issue of Scuba Diver for a full report on this amazing dive, which can easily be tagged on to a week at Volivoli Beach Resort.




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02/11/2018 10:32


A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CAVERN PHOTOGRAPHY Overhead environments present certain challenges but from the photographic point of view, can offer very rewarding results PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARIO VITALINI / WWW.FISHINFOCUS.CO.UK


here are many kinds of overhead environments, but some of the most photogenic are caves and caverns. Rock formations such as stalactites can be very striking and light filtering from openings in the ceiling can form beautiful sunbeams. In this article I will discuss how to photograph these places, so you can come home with some great shots. Before I start I would like to clarify the difference between cave and cavern diving. Both are overhead environments, therefore, not appropriate for inexperienced divers. However, the biggest difference has to do with ambient light. In a cavern, there is always an exit in sight. Not having an exit in sight makes cave diving a muchmore-advanced practice which should only be done if properly trained and with the right equipment. I will only refer to caverns and other overhead environments safe for recreational diving.

WHERE TO GO There are many destinations offering the opportunity to visit some sort of caverns. The cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula are probably the most famous ones but similar sites can be found all over the world - Chandelier Cave in Palau comes to my mind. We do not have to travel long distances to enjoy beautiful caves. The Red Sea has some amazing reefs packed with caverns and swim-throughs, all very easy to explore and a dream to photograph.

SUNBEAMS, CAVERNS AND CAVE OPENINGS In my opinion, the most-important element when photographing caves and caverns is the light. Cracks in the ceiling can create striking sunbeams. Cave openings will show the beautiful blue light of the open water offering great chances to create amazing silhouettes.

A classic cavern shot. Notice the sunbeams crossing the frame starting in the cavern sealing and finishing on the sand. The divers torch help balancing the image. Sha’ab Claudia, Egypt

A diver swims by a stalactite in Chandelier cave, Palau, where you can find some amazing rock formations. When using a diver in your image, make sure the eye line of your model goes to a focal point in your shot and not into the camera

A blue spotted stingray inside the cave system of Sha’ab Claudia in the Southern red Sea. The general exposure is set on the background where the opening of the cave gives a sense of depth. By using a snoot on my strobe I concentrate the light on the stingray

good idea to look around for a section of the cave where you can brace yourself and your housing. Be very mindful if you do this not to damage any marine life. Once your exposure is sorted, look through the viewfinder or LCD screen and think about the composition. Sunbeams look better when you can see where they start and finish. A diver in the scene will act as a focal point. Framing your shot from the inside of a cave towards the outside opens a great range of compositional options. Have a chat with your dive buddy before the dive, agree some

BIOGRAPHY: MARIO VITALINI To capture spectacular sunbeams, you have to find a good spot in the shadows, so look for a nice dark place that offers you the best possible view. Set your camera metering to spot so you can have the most-accurate readings. Make sure to find a good balance exposure between the darker cave and the light beams. The ceiling openings tend to be too bright and exposing there will underexpose the whole picture, reducing the impact of the sunbeams. If you expose on the cave itself, because it is too dark the resulting image will be overexposed and lacking contrast. A good practice in these situations is to increase your ISO to allow you to shoot at a fast-enough shutter speed to prevent camera shake. If you want to keep the ISO low it is a

For nearly 30 years, Mario has sailed the globe and dived the seas, working as a PADI instructor and dive guide. Today, he shares his passion for underwater photography. His students love his real-world expertise and patient approach. He has an extensive working knowledge of all underwater camera systems, having spent several years at the UK’s largest photo retailer. Mario’s images have won several awards and he has featured not once, but twice, among the top categories at the prestigious Underwater Photographer of the Year, including Most Promising British Underwater Photographer in 2015.

UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY A sunbeam lights the face of a diver in a shallow cavern. Abu Dabab 2 reef Egypt


Get more from your camera in 2019 with an escorted photo workshop with Mario, on some of his favourite Red Sea reefs. There’s something for everyone. These overseas workshops are open to all experience levels, but in particular anyone using a compact camera or mirrorless set-up. His prize-winning images prove it’s not the kit that makes the shot, but the photographer! If you need some help getting to grips with your camera underwater, Mario’s your man. His calm, patient approach is just what you need to improve your photos. Mario tailors the tips and techniques to your needs, both on the surface and underwater. Improve your skills in a relaxed, non-competitive environment. Dive, eat, sleep and shoot!

basic communication signals and help each other by acting as a model. From the inside, expose for the open water outside, this will usually imply using a fast shutter speed, a diver or a passing fish will be perfectly silhouetted against the blue. Caves and cavern photography is mostly an ambient light affair. For that reason, I usually leave my flashguns on the boat so I have a bit more manoeuvrability. However, if there are some great rocks or coral formations, a strobe can help lighting it. If that is the case, set up the exposure as on any other ambient light shot, set the strobe power relatively low and try to aim it so you are lighting only the subject and not the rest of the cave. Over the years I have found that a strobe with a relatively narrow beam or a wide-ish snoot works perfectly in these situations. A snoot will also help to control the backscatter which inside a cave can be a serious consideration.

This shot is based on a famous picture from Martin Edge. A soft coral encrusted seafan structure in the foreground is the image focal point, it helps framing a diver silhouetted against the cavern entrance in the background

CAVES Some dives such as the cenotes in Mexico or Chandelier Cave in Palau will take you a bit deeper underground, but always have a faint glimpse of light in the distance marking the exit and quite probably a pocket of breathable air above you, though you will be in a much darker environment. Because the ambient light is negligible, you will depend entirely on the light from your flashguns. This means that the shutter speed is irrelevant. Use the aperture to control the power of your strobe and aim it carefully to avoid backscatter or hot spots. A diver in the shot will help to give a sense of scale to your shot.

FINAL NOTES We are all used to colourful pictures of fish and corals however there is something special about caverns and caves. These atmospheric shots always give me a peaceful feeling. The purity of working with ambient light to create a moody atmosphere always takes me back to my beginning as a photographer shooting landscapes. n

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yes closed and my head resting against my makeshift pillow, I thought back on the alreadyhectic morning starting with a 5am alarm, and then somehow still managing to be late in leaving resulting in a race from Falmouth to Penzance, in order to get there in time to throw all our dive kit in the container! But finally, I got to sit and relax on the Scillonian III, better known as the ‘great white stomach pump’. But it was all worth it because at the end of the three-hour journey, we would be arriving in the Isles of Scilly for a week’s worth of diving on some of the most-amazing dive sites in England. I had been to the Scillies before. Last year, John Adams and I joined in with a week organised by the NUPG (Northern Underwater Photography Group) and fell in love. So we put together a group of ten made up of Seaways staff, regular customers and close friends and booked our own week with Dave Mcbride. There are only three dive charters operating in the Isles of Scilly and due to weather there is a very short dive season, so we were incredibly lucky to get our own week. We had to book it almost a year in advance, so finally 12 months of waiting

and excitement had past and we were finally on our way. A three-hour nap later, we arrived. I had managed to sleep the entire way, which probably had something to do with the early start - and the fact that I am in no way a morning person – this was definitely going to be a problem for the rest of the week! Our first pit stop was the Mermaid for a spot of lunch and a chance to finally gather our group in one place. The way Dave runs his charter is six days of diving Sunday to Friday, meeting early in the morning, starting the first dive before or around 8.30am and being back on the island after two dives around 2-3pm - just in time for a portion of chips and a pint (or two) in the Atlantic for the mandatory post-dive debrief. So bright and early Sunday morning, there we were, cameras in hand, half asleep and ready for our first day of diving. The first dive of the day was the Lady Charlotte and it was a perfect first dive to kick off the week. Even though the sky was a rather miserable shade of grey, the sun was attempting to shine through, the sea was flat calm and the water a toasty 14 degrees C. The Lady Charlotte is an old cargo steamer formally known as the Aphrodite. She was about 3,593 tons and was built in 1905 by the Tyne Iron Steamboat Company. Sadly, on 11 May 1917, she become lost in dense fog while travelling from Cardiff to France before managing to run aground on St

The Isles of Scilly is renowned for its seal encounters, but as Roisin Maddison discovered, there is much more to this destination than playful marine mammals PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROISIN MADDISON


Delicate anemones for macro photography

Mary’s Island. Thankfully, the entire crew managed to escape safety but the ship was lost to the bottom of the ocean. A hundred and one years later and there is still a lot of this wreck left to discover. Although it has been heavily scavenged and broken up, there are still recognisable traits to the ship that she used to be, the most iconic of which are her grand boilers that tower above the seabed and are covered in life. The wreck lies between 10m-35m, so she is a good dive for all levels of divers, although the really interesting bits of wreckage start at the boilers that lie at about 15m. From here if you gradually head down the slope getting slightly deeper as you go you’ll come across piles and piles of steel plates and other pieces of wreckage. Due to the grey skies I decided to stick my macro lens on for this dive and I was so glad that I did. Dave had dropped the shot line on the boilers and before I had even reached the bottom I was greeted by a free-swimming nudibranch. Granted it had probably been kicked up and disturbed by the divers that had got in before us, but it was still a lovely welcome. The Lady Charlotte has been totally claimed by the sea and is covered in life, anemones and dead man’s fingers cover nearly every surface and starfish, nudibranchs and crabs can be found hiding among them. Myself and my buddy Annie (both avid photographers and lovers of macro and anything small and ‘squishy’) barely moved through our entire 40-minute dive, there was just so much to see. The second dive that day was the one we were all looking forward to most, the shallowest and probably easiest dive we would do this week but one of the best by far. We headed over to the Eastern Isles, more specifically to the east of Menawethern Rocks, where the seals like to play. Dave


See Roisin Maddison at the brand-new interactive dive show GO Diving at the Ricoh Arena on 23-24 February 2019! Early bird tickets available now from: The Scillies is home to several wrecks

dropped the anchor and we all jumped into the water pretty much bang on high tide, when the seals were at their most playful. Annie and I immediately found our pot of gold and positioned ourselves on a little rocky platform in about 5m of water. It took a while for the seals to get comfortable with us. At first, they just kept diving down, giving us a little eye up and down and then carrying on with their own business, but the little ones just couldn’t resist playing and within ten minutes, they were all over us. They especially loved my bright blue fins and their reflection in the dome port. It was an amazing dive, every time we turned around there was another one nibbling our fins or asking for its belly to be stroked. Seals really are the puppies of the ocean and we were sad to have to tear ourselves away when our 60-minute dive time was up.


What makes diving in the Scilly Isles so iconic for me is its deep sheer walls covered in life and this was a perfect example

Exploring a Scillies shipwreck

It felt right that we would dive the Italia only the day after diving the Lady Charlotte, as both ships were wrecked on the same day. The Italia fell victim to the sea only a few hours later while all the islanders where helping the crew of the Lady Charlotte. The Italia was also a cargo steamer carrying coal from Cardiff to Taranto when she got lost in the same dense fog and managed to wreck herself on Wingletang Rocks to the south of St Agnes. With all the excitement of the Lady Charlotte, none of the islanders noticed the Italia and, therefore, there was nobody to help its 66 crew members. After that night, the Italia was lost until 1964 when it was discovered by Richard Larn, who managed to identify her using the ship’s patent log. Like the Lady Charlotte, 101 years has not been too kind to the Italia and while it lies between 15m-40m, it is well broken up and all of the interesting wreckage likes around 30m-35m; so not a great dive for new or nervous divers. If you are comfortable to go so deep however you will be rewarded with some magnificent wreckage and photographic opportunities as the frame work stands proudly off the bottom of the seabed. Dave dropped the shot in at around 15m and myself and John quickly descended down to about 35m to explore as much as the ship as possible, before heading back up the slope and spending our deco exploring the shallower bits of wreckage. I have been told that if you can find it and if you are prepared to get that deep, the ship’s propeller is still there complete with shaft and is a rather amazing site to see. Jane Morgan and myself had been begging Dave to let us investigate his crack ever since we got on the boat the day before, and finally the weather and wind were just right. Now get your minds out of the gutter! Dave Mcbride discovered this reef during one of his many, many exploration dives around the islands and it was rightly named after him. It is also less Incoming seal missile


The playful seals will get up close and personal

crudely known as the ‘sweet shop’ due to its amazing array of jewel anemones. The entire site is a deep crevice between two walls, only a couple of metres wide reaching down to about 30m with boulders and swim-throughs to explore and the entire thing is covered in colourful clumps of jewel anemones. We hadn’t got a chance to dive this site the year before so I was super excited to dive it this time and it did not disappoint. What makes diving in the Scilly Isles so iconic for me is its deep sheer walls covered in life and this was a perfect example. Annie and I were the first in the water and one of the last out. Dave had dropped the shot line on the top of the wall, so we were able to go down the shot line and then descend the rest of the way down the rock face ourselves. Our navigation was spot on, and we ended right back at the shot line at the end of the dive and this was entirely due to the fact that other than swimming backwards and forwards under one of the boulders multiple times, we just barely moved anywhere (a theme of the week it would appear). There was just so much to photograph everywhere we looked and time quickly got away from us. We reached the halfway point in our week in seemingly no time, so sticking to our general theme we started out with another wreck, the King Cadwollen. As with the Italia and the Lady Charlotte, the King Cadwollen also fell prey to the fog. Built in 1900 she was a 3,275-ton steamer of the Glasgow Kings line. She left Barry on 21 July 1906 on


The Lady Charlotte has been totally claimed by the sea and is covered in life, anemones and dead man’s fingers cover nearly every surface and starfish, nudibranchs and crabs can be found hiding among them Fin-nibbling is a popular pastime for the seals

The Scillies reefs are very healthy

her way to Naples to deliver her cargo of coal, but sadly she would never make her delivery. On 22 July she would strike the eastern rocks. Thankfully the captain and crew managed to get away in the lifeboats, but the King Cadwallon would sink to her final resting place. She now lies on a slope reaching from 15m-33m, so a perfect dive for divers wanting to extend their depth experiences. 
 Dave dropped our anchor on the boilers that lie at about 28m, from there we explored the boilers and surrounding rocks which are covered in primrose and jewel anemones and then headed shallower to find the rest of the wreckage. It is an exciting dive with a lot of intact wreckage still available to explore and penetrate, my favourite of which are the ribs of the hull, upside down they create a cradle that you create nice frames for some wide-angle photography. The Cita is by far my favourite wreck on the Scillies, partially because it is so new and intact that you really do feel like you are exploring the insides of a ship and partially because of its fantastic story. I don’t have enough words to go into the entire story now but if you are in the Scillies, I highly recommend going to one of Dave Mcbride’s talks on a Thursday night in the Methodist church hall. Not only is it a fantastic talk with amazing pictures and insights into life on the Scillies, but there is also focus on the sinking of the Cita, from a man who was there when it happened and helped with the clean-up. It really will make the experience of diving it so much more intriguing. In short, the Cita was a cargo ship which struck the rocks off St Mary’s Island on 26 March 1997. She was carrying around 200 containers containing a wide range of treasures and let’s just say that to this day, the island still has a hefty collection of car tires. As she sank, the Cita split in half, the bow and the stern. While they lie fairly close together there is a large pinnacle separating the two wrecks and there is so much to explore that trying to do both sections of the wreck in one dive would


be a waste. The bow sits between 8m-27m so again a nice dive for anybody wanting to work on their depth progressions. It is a stunning dive with so much infrastructure still intact, you can swim through under the hull and explore all of the winches and ropes still intact. It is amazing for photography, so make sure your buddy knows their place and is happy to model for you. Friday was our last day of diving so we decided we had to dive the stern of the Cita and after a couple of tries, including a line going down with no buoy, the shot line finally landed on the bridge. The stern section is deeper than the bow and lies between 15m-40m, so we had a relatively shorter dive and I didn’t get to explore as much of the bridge as I would have liked. It is a fabulous site though to be met with, as it towers above the seabed with all the railings and doors still intact, so you can stick your head inside the compartments and see all of the inside structures. The rock separating the two wrecks rises to about 8m and is covered in life, so it’s a lovely way to end your dive and finish off any deco you may have built up. All in all it was a fantastic week in the Isles of Scilly and we had a fabulous time and some amazing diving. Although the weather may not have been what we had hoped for, we managed to dive every day and managed to explore a wide variety of sites. We have already booked next year’s week with Dave and I am already counting down the days. Until next year, Scillies! n


Lighthearted profile of dive centres or clubs from all over the United Kingdom. This issue, it is the turn of Stellar Divers.

Who is in


Name: Simon Hotchkin | Rank: PADI Master Instructor | Date of first certification: 1990 Number of dives to date: 2,489 WHAT’S YOUR STORY? My story in less than 150 words - ouch! Well, I’ve always loved water, so much so I even rode my bike off the river bank into our canal! Don’t ask! When I finally found my niche, I was a training officer for BT. I loved teaching, helping and coaching plus I got to lock people in a room and make them listen to me and my jokes for hours. Ultimately, I started working for myself as a training consultant and started teaching scuba as a hobby. Well that soon flipped and now I run the area’s only full-time PADI five-star IDC dive centre. plus we are now a 100 percent Project AWARE partner centre! I love the PADI system, it fits with my fastidious, process-driven approach (plus scuba diving is fun!). It’s a dream job, believe me I know how lucky I am.

Q&A with Simon Q: How would you describe your team at your dive centre? A: Professional, dedicated simply beautiful and a joy to work with! They make me proud! Q: What is your most-embarrassing teaching moment? A: Changing out of my wetsuit in the car park at Capernwray forgetting I wasn’t wearing my old man speedos! Freedom! Q: What is your favourite place to dive in the UK? A: Oooooh, tough one! Well, the Sound of Mull for many reasons! Q: What is your favourite place to dive abroad? A: How hard are these questions? Truk Lagoon! Q: If you could change one thing about diving, what would it be? A: Make scuba kit weightless!


Q: Who is the worst air-guzzler in your team? A: That’s easy, Chris aka ‘Chug’. Q: Who is the biggest wimp out of the lot of you, and give a recent example? A: Siân, she hates sand! No kidding! But we love her. #lovebeacheshatesand Q: Who attracts the most attention, good or bad? A: In the best way, our mascot Valhalla the Emperor penguin. Q: If you could teach a celebrity to dive, who would it be and why? A: Prof Cox, because he would listen to me babble on about Quantum Physics and actually look genuinely interested! Q: What’s been the biggest fear factor in your diving career to date? A: Plenty of challenges, but I believe you only really learn from adversity! The biggest ‘fear’ I have is what will I do when I become too old to dive!

Why you should

JOIN OUR CLUB CLUB EVENTS We are such a social club, you ask any of our 362 active (and growing) members! Diving is fun but the social side is equally as important, no politics, everyone having a good time! It’s a few reasons why scuba diving is such a great sport, come and join us to see the Stellar difference! (corny alert!), but I’m proud to say it is a very happy fact of our club. We do welcome divers from any organisation - so long as you love diving, want to have fun and don’t mind laughing, anyone is welcome.

BRITISH DIVING TRIPS Diving in the UK is awesome, if you think you have to dive in the Red Sea, Maldives or the Philippines to get great dives you need to come away with us! We always offer six to seven ‘Weekender’ trips to Capernwray (always staying at the Kings Arms - beautiful!), we have a Scottish expedition, staying in a Castle and diving the Sound of Mull. Oh and not forgetting the awesome and playful grey seals in the Farnes!

FOREIGN DIVE TRIPS Oh now you are talking, we always offer at least two trips abroad each year, 2019 we are doing a ten-day Maldives liveaboard and two weeks on back-to-back liveaboards in the Red Sea. 2020 Philippines - warm, beautiful water, limitless vis, sun, sand (unless you are Siân). Just think, hang up your drysuit, put your hood in your sock draw, break out the shorties, sun cream and come with us! TRAINING FACILITIES To dive we use our local Yarborough Leisure Centre in Lincoln, it’s great for pool work with a 3.5m deep area for a full scuba experience. All are welcome every Sunday 7.30am-9.30am – and did I mention the full fry-up afterwards? Our newly purchased office, classroom and& workshop are getting a serious makeover and upgrade, state of the art and beautifully different. Watch this space for a big announcement…

DIVE CENTRE factfile Contact details

Courses available

Gas mixes

Stellar Divers, 4 Stirlin Court, Saxilby Enterprise Park, LN1 2LR Tel: 01522 703116 / 07740 357866 Email: Website:

All PADI Core/Pro and Diver specialities, Rebreather and Project AWARE specialities

Watch this space? (Again, I love saying that!)

Rental kit and brand

All manufacturers all scuba equipment and cylinders

Opening hours

7 Days 8am – 8pm (or until we fall asleep)

Most main manufacturers available


Shop Watch this space? (I love saying that!)


Alor FISH SOUP Pure pleasure! This original recipe originates from Indonesia. It is particularly diverse in exceptional ingredients. We just can’t get enough of it and serve it with octopus, moray eel, frogfish, coral, sponges and lots of fish. And there is no destination too far for a good soup TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROSE AND UDO KEFRIG / TEAM OCEANPICS.DE


urprise! This dish is not cooked. The kitchen stays cold. To enjoy this rich soup, we simply squeeze into a wetsuit, grab our dive equipment and jump into a rich primaeval pot of fish stew! We long for great visibility at drop-offs, for sharks and big fish in abundance. We glide through diverse reefs, are carried by breath-taking currents and gasp at fantastic underwater landscapes full of biodiversity. Nudibranchs, in all colour variations, pipefish and other critters are waiting to be explored. A pot brimming. Our dive safari started from Maumere and led us to Flores, Lembata, Pantar and Alor. Diving in the surrounding islands means variety - many dive sites, and incredible marine life. From little pygmy seahorses, fascinating mimic octopus, shoals of fish, right up to big predators and an abundance of corals and sponges, everything is on the menu. This fish chowder happily bubbles underwater, or offers you mimicry in perfection. But our advice - dive with a guide, this way you get to see more then you ever envisaged.


The currents in this primeval soup can be strong and unpredictable, and there is never a dive in the Pantar Strait where the pot doesn’t simmer with fish

Before we are shown to our cabin, we are giving a safety briefing about lifejackets, liferafts and a housekeeping brief. Literally translated, our safari ship Amira ( is called Princess. She is innovative, equipped with a stateof-the-art navigation system, technology, security and rescue equipment, and was built by indigenous craftsmen using the ancient Phinisi boat-building traditions. With a length of 52 metres, the Amira offers nine comfortable double cabins and one single cabin, all equipped with personal showers and toilets and natural lighting. Meals are taken outside on the main deck or inside the restaurant with comfortable air-conditioned lounge area with comfortable sitting areas, TV and DVD player. Soak up the romantic atmosphere with a sundowner on the upper


sun-deck, or simply chill on one of the other decks with a good book. Coffee, tea and water are free and three times a day a tasty fusion of Indonesian or Western food is offered. In between meals, snacks and fresh fruit is available. A larger variety of drinks and fruit juices, as well as beer, are available for purchase. When we were shown the dive deck it was a nice surprise. Created by divers for divers, it is a generously designed space to gear up with a fixed site for each diver, several rinse tanks, plenty of surface space and a spacious camera room. All in all, a perfect base for the most beautiful dive excursions in Raja Ampat, Alor, Komodo and Banda. Ronan Debelius, the cruise director of the Amira, explained to us that the dive map of Alor is divided into two areas. The Strait of Pantar for wide-angle photography and the Bay of Kalabahi as a great spot for muck diving. He warned about strong currents – flow in the Pantar Strait often reaches up to 20 knots, develops strong whirlpools and even ships fight against them. However, these currents supply the corals, and the tiny and bizarre creatures and fish with plenty of food. The islands are of volcanic origin and characterised by mountainous landscapes. At the same time, you will find lonely beaches as well as dense rainforest with a rich variety of animal and plant species.

TIME TO DIVE After arriving in Kalabahi Bay, we watched as the first group of divers were getting ready. A few of them had not been to Indonesia before, but with these incredible dive sites situated in the heart of the coral triangle, they would not be disappointed. The Kalabahi Bay is a paradise for every muck diver looking for rare, alien-like creatures that camouflage and conceal themselves so cleverly that they are hardly visible to the untrained eye. There are currents and there can certainly be poor visibility, but the experienced

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guides know their way around. One of the best sites was the Mucky Mosque, located just behind the entrance to Kalabahi Bay. Fish traps, ropes, clothing and other artificial debris is found along the sloping reef, which are trapped around sponges and algae to provide a home for all kinds of strange weirdos, like the spiny seahorse, zebra crabs, colemani shrimps, squid and boxer crabs.

Crinoids adorn a barrel sponge

PANTAR STRAIT Sailing out of Kalabahi Bay into Pantar Strait, the underwater landscape changed dramatically. An explosive marine life welcomes divers in this remote corner of Indonesia. Dive sites are often like an underwater aquarium. And the dive sites around Pantar Strait revolve around a central theme - coral growth, fish life and high coral cover. Fed by incoming currents from the Indonesian Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the visibility during our voyage did not fall below 25 metres and reached up to 40 metres. In the northeast of Ternate Island, we got a little taste of diving in the Pantar Strait. At The Edge, you first come across a slope full of whip and soft corals that drop gently to a depth of 10m, followed by a drop-off that plunges over 100m into the abyss. Never have I seen such giant barrel sponge. Unfortunately, my dive computer reminded me that it was time to surface. I thought I’d seen many coral landscapes, but that was before my visit to Alor. You must be here to witness it yourself. Returning from a tender dive


Muck dive sites with black lava sand are generally referred to as ‘deserts’ and are relatively free of coral, but this dive promised to expose that cliché. Here we found a lot of soft corals, and crustaceans occupied almost every crevice, rare slugs seemed to bask in the penetrating sunrays, while yellow sea cucumbers, blue and green sea squirts and harlequin shrimps were unmistakable with very striking patterns.

BEANGABANG You what? Beans-go-bang? No, just another dive site and the word seems to roll beautifully over the tongue, just like our backward roll into the small bay in the southwest of the Pantar Strait. At the Teluk Beang Reef you can glide over a dark sandy bottom with hard and soft corals and beautiful sponges and admire schools of fusiliers and sweetlips swaying effortlessly in the current. Our daily dives produced frogfish in all colours and sizes, scorpionfish, flabellina, nudibranchs, crabs, numerous shrimps, lobster and the most searched for and well camouflaged rhinopias. The rhinopias, who are classified in the family of scorpionfish, come in various colours and different species. They feed on crustaceans, cephalopods and fishes and employ a lie-in-wait strategy, remaining stationary and ready for prey that comes near. With their mouth, they create a vacuum and suck the unsuspecting passer-by in during a nearly imperceptible split-second movement.


Macro subjects like this crab are everywhere


The Kalabahi Bay is a paradise for every muck diver looking for rare, alien-like creatures that camouflage and conceal themselves so cleverly that they are hardly visible to the untrained eye Pristine coral reef

Emperor shrimp on a sea cucumber

KEL’S DREAM One dive was very rewarding. This dive site is renowned and promised large pelagic fish. But you could end up on an express train. Diving conditions are not always ideal, and timing must be right. It is teeming with schools of small fish, including anthias and fusiliers. You need to kick your fins as the current is usually quite strong, but once there keep a lookout for barracuda and blacktips. Coral growth and diversity are impressive, but strong and unpredictable currents often mean that the average size of individual corals remain relatively small, but in incredible densities and all variations. Even in the wonderful world of macro you can find nudibranchs and blennies. The small blennies are grounddwellers who can be found mainly in rocky biotopes, staring curiously from their hiding places.

LAMALERA WHALING VILLAGE But this trip was not all about diving and we had plenty of land excursions. Above water, colourful wooden fishing boats chugged back and forth from tiny islands. Laughing children, in self-carved wooden canoes, paddled like crazy towards the liveaboards in the hope of a few sweets or even ABC equipment from the expectant divers on board who approach the remote islands. In the old whaling village of Lamalera, sperm whales have traditionally been hunted with harpoons for over 500 years. This has stopped and nowadays, schoolchildren demonstrate whaling dance elements, while the local women supplement the family income with ikat weaving sales. Another great highlight is an excursion to the village of the Aboi hill tribe. The Abui are an indigenous ethnic group (also known as Barawahing, Barue or Namatalaki) residing on Alor Island. Up until the 19th century, they were headhunters. The now-retired headhunters perform their dance rituals in the Lamalera fishing village


Porcelain crab in an anemone

Takbala village and welcome guests. At least we didn’t have to worry about ending up in the pot! They are proud to share their culture and engage in songs and traditional dances known as lego-lego, in which the dancers move in a circular pattern and stamp their feet. Moko drums and gongs are rhythmically beaten.

DIVING ALOR/INDONESIA Diving in Alor is not easy. The currents in this primeval soup can be strong and unpredictable, and there is never a dive in the Pantar Strait where the pot doesn’t simmer with fish. Even in the Kalabahi Bay, we experienced a slight drift during muck diving depending on the tides. The water temperatures can drop at any time due to the thermocline rising from the depth, so do not forget a beanie hat. To enjoy the beauty of Alor to the full, divers must have a high level of water confidence, and safety equipment, such as a surface marker buoy (and knowing how to deploy it), is essential. n





Stuart Philpott stays close to home for Above 18m this month, when he explores the shallow wreck of the HMT James Fennel, which lies just off Portland in Dorset PHOTOGRAPHS BY STUART PHILPOTT


ver the years, Blacknor Point on Portland in Dorset has attracted its fair share of shipwrecks. SS Gertrude hit the rocks and sank in 1894, with SS Barmston suffering a similar fate in 1918. HMT James Fennel completed the hat trick of destruction in 1920. This must have been a distressing time for the crews and the shipping companies, but somebody’s loss usually means someone else’s gain, which on this occasion is most definitely the diving community. It’s possible to explore all three wrecks in one multi-level dive, but beware, they are well broken up and differentiating between one wreck and the other is not so easy. Lying at a maximum depth of around 18m, HMT James Fennel is probably the most intact of the three. Popular with trainee and experienced divers, the site is located close to the rocky coastline, well protected from north easterlies, and can be dived solely as a wreck exploration dive or as part of a drift, depending on tide conditions. A fair proportion of the seabed is covered with massive boulders and kelp, so the hardest task is finding the wreck in the first place! Although I have been diving around Portland for some 25 years, the Fennel has, on many occasions, slipped under my radar. If I am going shore diving, the Royal Adelaide or Chesil Cove is my preferred choice. If I book a space on a


charter boat, then I usually visit one of the deeper Lyme Bay favourites. Only if the weather turns rough or there is time to fit in a second boat dive do I get a chance to explore the Fennel, which is a real shame as this reef, marine life and wreck combo never fails to deliver.

ARRIVAL AT THE SITE Portland and Weymouth has quite an incestuous dive centre community. I still see the same characters I met more than 25 years ago, although not looking so fresh faced these days. But who am I to talk! Just about every dive centre and charter boat operating out of Weymouth and Portland offer the HMT James Fennel as part of their diving manifest. Listed below are some of dive centre options available for visiting divers. In Weymouth, there are a number of charter boats for hire as well as a small selection of dive clubs with their own boat facilities, or contact the Old Harbour Dive Centre, owned by Mary and PADI CD Nigel. Skin Deep Dive Centre is based at Portland Marina. Follow the main beach road (A354) onto the causeway. Carry on past the Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre car park, turn left at the mini roundabout and then follow the signs to Portland Marina. Or carry on to the next roundabout and take the left


turn. O’Three Drysuits and Underwater Explorers can be seen from the road side (Underwater Explorers is a convenient stop for gas top-ups and any dive kit issues) and then follow the road signs to the marina complex. Portland Marina was purposely built for the 2012 Olympics. They offer the full range of boat services, including overhauls, hard standings and moorings. Skin Deep and the Boat That Rocks bar/restaurant are located on site. Skin Deep is run by Ian and Oona. They offer regular shuttles to the harbour dive sites, including the Dredger and Balaclava Bay. Cost is £28 for a dive on the James Fennel. Car parking is free. Carry on into Castletown, where the Aqua Hotel and Dive Beyond reside. The café, managed by local diver Angel, cooks up a mean full English as well as offering a range of healthier options. The hotel has 25 very reasonably priced rooms available, as well as a bar and on-site lecture facilities. Dive Beyond sits snugly next to the Aqua Hotel. The dive centre is managed by PADI CD Dale Spree. Dale is a great character and highly respected in the diving industry. Dive Beyond charge around £25pp for a RIB dive on the Fennel. The Castletown car park fee is about £3 for four hours. Early risers might be able to find an empty space along the road side.

Parts of the wreckage are fairly intact... ...others are smothered in marine growth

DIVE BRIEFING The James Fennel is located on the west side of Portland and can only be accessed by boat. Journey times are usually 30-45 minutes depending on the dive centre of choice. From the drop-off point, finding the wreck should be a ‘no-brainer’. Divers descend to around 15-16m and fin along the seabed in a north or south direction (depending where the boats drops them off) until they find any signs of metal. Then it’s just a case of following the wreckage trail. The SS Gertrude is shallower at 6m-14m and the Barmston slightly deeper at 22m. Normally I would choose a 12-litre cylinder filled with either air or nitrox. Heavy breathers should consider using a 15-litre. SMBs are required. There can be currents, so it’s wise to dive at slack water. The bottom topography mainly consists of huge boulders and patches of gravel. The wreck site itself covers quite a small area with many parts camouflaged by flora growth. The stern stands around five metres proud of the seabed. There are one or two tight overhead sections, but otherwise the wreck is well broken up. This site has a good variety of marine life. Regular fish sightings include conger eels, blennies, wrasse and pollock, with seasonal visitations from cuttlefish, rays and john dory. Crustacean-wise, edible and velvet swimming crabs are always on show, as well as lobster and these days even crawfish. Underwater visibility can top ten metres, but I would say five metres is a reasonable average. The 35-metre, 215-ton HMT James Fennel was purposely built for the Admiralty by Fullerton and Co at Paisley, Scotland, in 1918. Categorised as a Strath-class auxiliary patrol vessel prefixed HMT (Her Majesty’s Trawler), she was powered by a 430hp triple-expansion engine, manned by a crew of 18 and armed with a 12-pounder deck gun. On 16 January 1920, bound for Portsmouth from Gibraltar, she hit the rocks north of Blacknor Point while navigating her way through thick fog. On hearing the commotion, local fishermen managed to scramble down the slippery rocks and secure a rope from the stricken ship to the shore and then guide the crew to safety. There was no loss of life reported. A few days later, attempts were made to tow her off the rocks,


but she was badly holed and sank immediately. I couldn’t find any records regarding salvage attempts or what became of the 12-pounder deck gun. Unless my eyesight is worse than I thought, there is no sign of a gun in any of the internet pictures showing the ship perched on the rocks, so maybe it wasn’t fitted at the time of her sinking. Just 20 metres south of the Fennel in the shallows between 6m-14m lies the SS Gertrude. The 43-metre-long, 1,377-ton cargo ship was built by William Gray and Sons at West Hertlepool in 1879. She was fitted with a two-cylinder 80hp engine and a single propeller. On 26 August 1894, the ship ran aground in fog while carrying a cargo of iron pyrite. All 18 crew and two passengers survived. This wreck is also well broken up and it’s difficult to tell what is reef or wreck. The mostprominent feature is her boiler. Slightly deeper at around 22m are the remains of the collier SS Barmston. The 76-metre-long, 1,451-ton cargo ship was built by Norwegian shipyards in 1888. She sank on 3 March 3 1918 while sailing from Swansea to Rouen. All 20 crew survived.

THE DIVE Result. I had picked a bright, sunny autumn day with a slight northeasterly breeze and very little swell. Dale Spree, the owner of Dive Beyond, had fuelled up her big yellow RIB (complete with new engine) and was making preparations for a rapid departure. The plan was to blast around to the James Fennel, spend no more than an hour on site, continue over to the Royal Adelaide wreck for some triggerfish action, and then head back around the Bill to Portland Harbour for a third dive. Just to round off my good luck, I ran into some old diving friends. Kevin Craddock, the owner of Flippas n Fins Dive Centre, was guiding a couple of punters, and local diver



The prop shaft is easily recognisable




MARINE LIFE/WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR conger, blennies, pollock, wrasse, crabs


Up to ten metres, but five metres average


Alex Charleton was also making an appearance. Over the past few years Alex has been collating data on undulate ray populations at Portland’s shore-diving sites and showing his findings on Facebook. Dale arrived at Blacknor Point on schedule. The plan was to drop onto the seabed at around 16m and then head towards the rocks. Of course, the wreck would be right in front of us and we would spend the rest of the dive working out the best compositions for pictures in a nice calm relaxed manner - or not! The Fennel was nowhere to be seen. For the next 20 minutes I was head down finning like a lunatic trying to keep up with Alex while we searched back and forth for the wreck. I’m sure he could hear me cursing through my regulator. Just as I thought all was lost Alex pointed out a couple of stanchions covered in thick weed. I checked my depth and at 12m this was probably part of the Gertrude. I followed Alex slightly deeper and came across more wreckage. There were huge metal plates scattered all over the seabed. I managed to squeeze Ian into an overhead section for an atmospheric composition, but we had disturbed too much silt. We stopped at what looked to be a prop shaft. I managed to fire off a few shots both landscape and portrait with surprisingly little backscatter. Slightly deeper we found the remains of the stern. This was probably the most-photogenic area with some nice upright sections, but by now we were running short of time. Alex had already mentioned that there was not much to see around the boiler and prop, so we didn’t bother going any further. Some of the wreckage stands proud of the seabed

Rocky bottom and reef, kelp coverage


Boat traffic, so use an SMB, and there are currents, so dive at slack water

Protruding ribs provide a fine photo prop

CONCLUSION It’s not often I get a chance to explore three historical wrecks in one go and on this occasion, I didn’t! My plan had been to focus on HMT James Fennel, which we did find eventually. Seeing some of the Gertrude was a bonus. In my rush to get pictures I didn’t get a chance to check out the site thoroughly, but from what I could see there was a substantial amount of low-lying wreckage and when combined with the massive boulders and marine life sightings, this all added up to a really enjoyable dive. I probably ended up seeing more of the surrounding reef than the wreck! This fairly shallow site is very popular with clubs and dive centres. There are not many overhead sections to get stuck inside, which makes the Fennel a perfect first wreck dive. n

A fair proportion of the seabed is covered with massive boulders and kelp, so the hardest task is finding the wreck in the first place! 56





Garmin showcased its Descent Mk1 dive computer, which is now available with a grey titanium bezel as well as a sapphire lens and black silicone band at DEMA. Chris Budenz is one of Garmin’s original beta testers and he said they created the unit around what the recreational and technical markets demand from a dive computer. The smart watch technology suits the active and varied diver lifestyle, not just functioning for diving. There are built-in sensors that serve a three-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter as well as GPS and GLONASS capability that lets you log your dive entry and exit points for efficient and easy surface navigation. With apnea, single gas, multi-gas and CCR, and heart rate monitoring technology capabilities, this watch really does do it all. The double tap action on the computer avoids the issue of operating the unit underwater while wearing thick gloves.

HAMMERHEAD NAKOA OPEN TRACK SPEARGUNS Hammerhead Spearguns has scored again with their newest addition to their successful line-up of blue-water guns for spearos. Hammerhead founder Kevin Sakuda shared the new products with at the 2018 DEMA show. The NaKOA Open Track has two distinctive models: an American Open Track design and a European Open Track design sized for metric spear shafts. Both models are made from handcrafted teak and are light, powerful three-band guns. They feature reverse drop-in mechanisms, laminated hand-routed barrels, interchangeable AR-15 handle/grips and are custom made in Hawaii, USA. Offered in 114cm, 127cm, 140cm and 152cm lengths, these powerful and accurate guns can ring in the biggest blue-water species.


Evolve USA showcased some really cool kill bags at DEMA this year. The company is well-known for the high quality of their line of pole spears and tips. Spearfishers also need to get their kill home safety. There are many kill bags available on the market but few use food-grade materials. What good is fresh fish if it picks up odours or chemicals from the bag you are transporting it in? Problem solved with Evolve’s EVO+ Kill Bags. The new Evolve EVO+  1.2-metre and 1.8-metre Kill Bags have heat sealed seams to prevent leaks, and it has double reinforced heavy-duty handles, closed cell insulating foam, a 12-inch wide self-standing base, and two-stage drain valve.


OMER ADDS NEW CARBON FINS, MORE COLOURS, AND EXTRA FEATURES Omer has several new items that will be joining their product line, and showcased them at this year’s DEMA. The new Stingray Dual Carbon fin has a gloss finish on both sides and is available in medium stiffness. A rigid plate protects the 22° downturn on the blade, with predrilled holes for added compression so as to secure the foot pocket during transfer of power. The rails are slightly taller to stop side-to-side motion during the kick-cycle. This will be available all the way down to men’s size 4-5. The Alien mask, Omer’s most-popular and best-selling mask, has been fitted with an action-camera mount providing a convenient way to document your adventures.

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.


The Paralenz+ boasts an even-deeper depth rating of 250m thanks to an indestructible end cap which is CNC-milled from a single block of extremely strong aerospace-grade aluminium - the same as the rest of the housing. Jacob Dalhoff Steensen, the CMO of Paralenz, said: “The idea behind the Paralenz camera is to make it as easy as possible to collect and share your content. But then the next problem is that you have to store it, and managing this content is a challenge. So we decided to try to tackle this problem by creating Paralenz World. A diver can simply drag and drop the entire contents of an SD card into a web browser. It will folder up all of your dives in screenshots and it will provide the information of where and when you took the photo or video, how deep you were, providing the user with an easy visual reference guide complete with data.”

PFI INTRODUCES NEW OCEAN HUNTER PROGRAMME Performance Freediving International announced their new Ocean Hunter programme at DEMA, bringing industry leading safety to underwater hunting and gathering. This specialised course is designed for certified freedivers (PFI Freediver level or higher equivalent via other agency certifications) who want to leverage proper breath-hold to improve their underwater hunting methods, safety, and enjoyment. Features of the programme include safety and problem management while spearfishing, gear selection and rigging, and how to implement the best safety techniques - modified for the purpose of effective and efficient hunting underwater.


iBubble TO BEGIN SHIPPING ORDERS SOON Drones have really changed over the last few years, and the advancement in drone technology is showing in the scuba-diving industry as well. The iBubble, by the French company Notilo Plus, made its initial debut at last year’s DEMA show in Orlando, and now the company will be shipping orders in a matter of weeks. The iBubble is available as both a smart underwater drone and an ROV. The dive starts with the diver programming the remote. The process does a full self-test of the unit and pairs with the remote. The ibubble has six modes. The ‘film what I see’ mode has the drone alongside the diver showing what the diver sees. Other options allow the diver to be seen at different angles, such as from the side, behind or from the front. The drone can also circle the diver. The diver controls the distance between him or herself and the drone up to 20 metres. They can change any of the settings from the remote. When the dive starts, the drone reads the surroundings. This will enable it to avoid crashing into a reef or other item. The drone will also read the diver. This allows the drone to focus on the correct diver if other divers are nearby. If the drone loses contact with the remote, it will stop and hover for a minute. While hovering it will search for the remote. If found, it will return to the proper distance. However, if it does not locate the remote it will do what all proper dive buddies will do, it will slowly return to the surface. On the way to the surface and at the surface, the iBubble will attempt to find the remote and when it does, it will return to the dive. If the battery level becomes low during the dive, the drone will flash its lights and return to the diver. The battery for the drone can be changed between dives with a spare. Average dive time for a full charge is 90 minutes. An upgraded unit comes with a 60-metre cable to allow the drone to be operated as a ROV with surface control. Using the cable, the operator will get real-time video from the drone.


THE ULTIMATE DIVE VACATION IN PALAU WORTH OVER US$825! Scuba Diver has teamed up with Sam’s Tours to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a fantastic trip to experience the world-class diving off Palau. To be in with a chance of winning, simple log on to: and enter your details. It’s as simple as that! Palau

Palau is constantly voted among the top ten dive destinations worldwide and in the days of over-tourism and polluted oceans, it is no wonder that the Pacific archipelago off the beaten path is increasing in popularity among divers and nature lovers. Palau was the first destination to declare its 200-mile-zone a shark sanctuary and is now about to complete the transformation into a marine sanctuary where commercial fishing will be banned, with the exception of a small take-zone for local fishermen. Besides natural encounters with sharks, divers can enjoy fantastic wreck diving, steep walls with an abundance of healthy marine life and around full and new moon, the gathering of thousands of fish for spawning. Palau’s premier dive centre, Sam’s Tours, is an independent five-star PADI IDC Dive Centre and eco-adventure tour company. The full-service dive centre offers a complete range of scuba experiences, from introductory scuba programmes through PADI Dive Instructor certification and includes technical diving services and rebreather support. Sam’s Tours offers complimentary nitrox up to 32% with proof of certification.

The prize, which is worth US$825, is a voucher for one person for five days of diving with Sam’s Tours and includes two dives a day (including tanks, weights and nitrox up to 32% with proof of certification), professional guide, lunch and refreshments, Sam’s Tours’ resusable water bottle, and hotel transfers. The closing date is 20 January 2019 and the editor’s decision is final.

Terms and conditions

Not included are airface, accommodation, meals other than specified, required government permits, and rental gear. Voucher is valid until 31 January 2020. XX



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


Headlining the GO Diving Show are an array of celebrity divers who have each had a major impact on the diving world in their own unique way. They will be on the Main Stage on Saturday 23 February and Sunday 24 February for a mix of must-see presentations, ‘fireside chats’ and Q&A sessions ANDY TORBET Andy Torbet is a professional underwater explorer, cave and technical diver, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Member of The Explorers’ Club. At last count he’s written over 200 articles and presented on 21 TV series, including programmes which saw him dive HMHS Britannic, under iceberg in the Arctic, inside glaciers in Greenland, freedive under Alaskan ice, with giant spider crabs in Japan, pilot the Oceanworks 1ATM Hardsuit and dive shipwrecks and caves all around the world. He’s been lead diver and supervisor on a number of archaeological and scientific expeditions, and spent ten years in the British Forces where one of his roles was commander of the Army’s Underwater Bomb Disposal Unit. He’s also a professional skydiver and climber, amateur father and seems to spend half his life living out of his campervan.

LINDEN WOLBERT Linden Wolbert is the pioneer of the exploding mermaid trend that shows no signs of slowing down. With over 45 million video views, 80,000 YouTube subscribers and her own signature line of mermaid swim products with BodyGlove, she is arguably the most-successful professional ‘entrepremermaid’ in the world. She is contagiously enthusiastic, and has a true passion for ocean ‘edutainment’, sharing her numerous aquatic adventures in mini-documentaries aimed at children on her YouTube channel in her acclaimed Mermaid Minute series. Linden is a skilled freediver, and has done underwater modelling and pro in-water stunt doubling for films, TV and commercials, as well as appearing as a mermaid in feature films and several music videos.

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

Andy and Miranda will be acting as comperes for the Main Stage as well as doing their own presentations MIRANDA KRESTOVNIKOFF Born in land-locked Buckinghamshire, Miranda never thought she’d end up as a water baby, but an attractive vet in the queue for the scuba diving club at University persuaded her to sign up and she was lured into the underwater world, never to look back. Little did she realise that diving would shape her career. Her very first job as a television presenter involved diving with reef sharks and her first shark bite! Presenting two series of Wreck Detectives for Channel 4, she went on to explore underwater wonders around the UK for BBC2’s BAFTA-award-winning series Coast. She now dives and presents wildlife stories on BBC1’s The One Show and has even presented radio programmes underwater for BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth and the BBC World Service. Her husband and two children have no option but to follow suit and they are all divers, too. She writes regularly about her diving adventures in the UK and abroad and the challenges of taking family to far flung places to pursue her hobby. Her passion is to clean up and protect our precious waters so the next generation can enjoy them as she has done. 

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




Umberto Pelizzari is an Italian freediver, widely considered among the best of all time. He’s the only one to have established world records in all freediving disciplines that existed at that time - Constant Weight, Variable Weight, and No Limits.   He became famous for his rivalry with another top freediver, Pipin Ferreras, originally a close training friend. In No-Limits, Pelizzari and Ferreras pushed each other deeper and deeper and became the focus of the 2001 IMAX production Ocean Men.  During his career, he achieved depths of 82m in Constant Weight, 131m in Variable, and 150m in No Limits. His best performance in static is 8’, and 19’56” (during medical tests) after breathing pure oxygen. He’s also done work teaching, has worked on television shows, created the Apnea Academy, and authored the widely used Manual of Freediving.

A former Royal Marines Officer who worked for Nelson Mandela during the peace process in the early 1990s, Monty left the forces to pursue a career in expeditions, travel journalism, and marine biology. Monty has since led teams in some of the most-challenging environments on Earth, presented numerous multi-award-winning documentaries, launched his own production company, and become a renowned inspirational speaker and writer. He has also developed a one-of-a-kind leadership and team building system for the professional and education sectors. Monty is a Land Rover global ambassador, president of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, a Help for Heroes patron and numerous conservation organisations.  He is best known for his three BBC2 series Great Escapes, where he lived on the west coasts of Scotland and Ireland with his dog Reuben. He also presented the multi-awardwinning series Great Barrier Reef. His next Channel Four series - My Family and the Galapagos - airs this Summer and features the whole Halls family in a poignant conservation mission to the Galapagos. He has written several books, and is a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers, many of them communicating his enthusiasm for the natural world.

MEHGAN HEANEY-GRIER Mehgan Heaney-Grier is a lifelong adventurer who specialises in pushing boundaries and thrives on personal challenges. Her drive and passion for the ocean helped her establish the first US freedive record for both men and women in the constant weight category in 1996, with a dive to 47m. Less than one year later she bettered that record with a dive to over 50m. In 2000, Mehgan was one of the original inductees into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame for her leadership and outstanding contribution to the field of diving. She holds a degree in Ecology Evolutionary Biology, and Anthropology, and has worked in the field with sharks and other marine and land-based predators more than 20 years. An accomplished athlete, stunt diver, TV personality, and marine conservationist, she has been featured in publications worldwide such as Life, People, and Outside magazines, and has starred-in and appeared on hundreds of television shows. Hollywood films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, and Into the Blue, have utilised Mehgan’s underwater expertise to perform difficult underwater stunts for leading ladies such as Keira Knightly, Jessica Alba, and Olivia Wilde. Starting in 2015, Mehgan worked as the team Divemaster for two treasure-hunting expeditions in South America that were later featured on the Discovery Channel series, Treasure Quest: Snake Island.

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

JILL HEINERTH More people have walked on the moon than have been to some of the places Jill Heinerth has explored right here on Earth. She is a veteran of over 30 years of filming, photography and exploration on projects in submerged caves around the world with National Geographic, NOAA, various educational institutions and television networks worldwide. She is the inaugural Explorer-in-Residence for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, recipient of Canada’s prestigious Polar Medal and the diving world’s highest award from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences, the NOGI. As a motivational speaker, Jill Heinerth educates and inspires people about our fascinating underwater world. Partnering with Penguin Random House in Canada and Harper Collins in the US, Jill will soon be releasing four new majormarket, non-fiction and children’s books.

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


SIX As well as the Main Stage, there are no less than five other stages at GO Diving dedicated to specific disciplines and interests – Technical Stage, Freediving Stage, Underwater Photography Stage, Travel Stage and the Inspiration Stage – playing host to more than 50 speakers. TECHNICAL STAGE This stage will be home to some of the biggest names in the world of technical diving, talking about a wide range of subjects, including ancient shipwrecks, deep wreck photography, expeditions, citizen science, cave diving, risk management, diving medicine, ghost fishing and 3D photogrammetry. Those speaking include Phil Short, John Kendall, Leigh Bishop, Tomasz Stachura, Gemma Smith, Mike and Robert Thomas, Gareth Lock, Chantelle Taylor-Newman, Mark Powell, Rich Walker, Peter Routledge, Paul Toomer, Tim Clements and Sally Cartwright.

Peter Routledge

TRAVEL STAGE The ideal place to come and be inspired for your next diving adventure, be that around our shores or further afield. Our eclectic mix of travel specialists will tease and tantalise with a focus on resorts, liveaboards and locations that are sure to factor into your ‘bucket list’ of diving destinations in the future. John Kendall

Phil Short


Supported by the team at - a wellrespected web-based site devoted to freediving, scuba diving and technical diving – this stage will feature talks from the likes of world-famous professional mermaid Linden Wolbert, freediving photographer Daan Verhoeven, and freediving educators Stig Severinsen, Steve Millard and Emma Farrell. Watch this space – more big names to come!

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

Ellen Cuylaerts

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


UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY STAGE This will have notable talks from the likes of established pro shooters Alex Mustard MBE, Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield, Phil and Anne Medcalf, Mario Vitalini, Martyn Guess, Stuart Philpott, Jason Brown, Ellen Cuylaerts, Jane Morgan, David Diley and Jeremy Cuff, as well as some of the industry’s newcomers, including Byron Conroy and Roisin Maddison. They will be discussing topics as diverse as macro, super-macro, wide-angle, marine life, basic set-up, using full manual control, lighting, post-processing and modelling, as well as the pros and cons of compacts, mirrorless systems and DSLRs. Jason Brown

David Diley Alex Mustard MBE

Paul Duxfield

INSPIRATION STAGE Dedicated to getting back to basics – how to plan an unguided dive, what thermal protection to wear at what temperature, how to set-up your equipment and all those other questions prospective divers don’t know and are too scared to ask – as well as showcasing inspiring stories and people in all aspects of diving. Expect speakers from the main training agencies – PADI, BSAC, RAID, SSI, SAA and GUE – as well as specialist organisations like Deptherapy and BDMLR.

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

Roisin Maddison

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


The darkness beckons... Come and try your hand at caving in our interactive cave experience

Photo credit: Jason Brown /

What is it like to scramble around in the pitch-black, your way forward through winding passageways lit only by the light on your protective helmet? Welcome to the world of caving – and you can try it first-hand at the GO Diving Show at our interactive caving experience! You will don kneepads and a helmet with bright LED light and then venture into the daunting cave system. Through a clever and convoluted design that takes you up and down as well as left and right, you will traverse some 30 metres of dark, narrow cave passageways before emerging back into daylight. Along the way you will have to make your way through constrictions, around tight corners, over obstacles and even scramble through a deep ball pool in the middle of the route! Suitable for children (aged 4+) and adults alike, this interactive experience is sure to be popular – and with four cameras inside the cave system linked into a TV mounted outside, your friends and family can see how you fair on your journey into the darkness. The cave experience does give you a real flavour for what genuine caving feels like, but fear not, if the tight spaces and cloying darkness get too much for you, there are several emergency exits the team can open to get you quickly out. Cave Diving Group members Mike and Robert Thomas will be on-hand to offer some advice for those brave enough to take up the challenge, and explain how you can take this exciting experience into the real world and get into dry caving and cave diving.

Experience a virtual shark dive with Discovery Channel The GO Diving show has teamed up with the Discovery Channel to allow you to venture on an exciting virtual shark dive Whether you are already an avid diver, or looking to take the plunge into this exciting sport, you cannot miss the opportunity to don a VR headset and find yourself in the midst of the action on an adrenaline-fuelled Discovery Channel Shark Week dive! Sharks, widely misunderstood by the general public and vilified in the mainstream media, are one of nature’s most-graceful and impressive predators, and being in the water with any of the multitude of species is simply mind-blowing. In these virtual reality films, you will be able to see exactly how

amazing these creatures are, as they surround the divers and approach from every angle. Want to try it out for yourself? Get down to the GO Diving show and make your way to the Discovery Channel VR booth. Whatever your age, you too can get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s greatest apex predators.

Virtual reality bonanza! As well as the Discovery Channel VR booth, several of the exhibitors at GO Diving are bringing their virtual reality experiences to the show, including a dive with seals in the waters off Ireland, a cage dive with great white sharks off Guadalupe, a unique 360-degree dive inside a cave in France, and many more.

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


And there’s more... As well as six stages, just shy of 60 speakers, the virtual reality dives and the caving experience, there is plenty more at GO Diving to occupy your time! TRYDIVE POOLS GO Diving features two 100 sq m pools for entry-level trydives, technical trydives and freediving/snorkelling sessions, so this is the perfect time to take the plunge for the first time, or try your hand at a new discipline.

MASTERCLASSES There will be masterclasses in both freediving and underwater photography/videography over the weekend, where you can be part of a small group getting personalised tuition and advice from acknowledged experts in their field. Watch this space for more information and how to register for a slot. These will be strictly space-limited!

INTERACTIVE CHALLENGES Reckon your navigation skills are up to scratch? Think your S-drill is the fastest around? Got your trim bang on? Then come and showcase your talents at our interactive zones! The GUE team will be showing you how to get that perfect horizontal trim on their ‘trim machine’, while the navigation trail will test your abilities to accurately read a compass. The head-to-head S-drill challenge will let you take on a buddy in a timed showdown – and the fastest times will go on our

Wall of Fame. Will you be able to beat the times set by the pros?

THE NEXT GENERATION All those keen kids and talented teens out there who have already got into diving or are wanting to have not been forgotten. Our dedicated Next Generation section will be manned by several inspirational youngsters and teenagers who have racked up an impressive array of certifications between them, and they will be on hand to chat with other young people and hang out with like-minded child and teen divers.

EXHIBITORS The stages and other immersive elements of the GO Diving Show are scattered around the venue, and filling the space inbetween are a host of stands from major manufacturers like Aqua Lung, Apeks, Mares, Fourth Element, Santi, Halcyon, Suunto, Beuchat, Finnsub, AP Diving, Ballistic RIBs and Otter Watersports, top training agencies such as PADI, BSAC, RAID, SSI, SAA and GUE, travel specialists like Scuba Travel, Dive Worldwide, Regal, Caribbean Fun Travel and Diverse Scuba, five major retailers, and a wide selection of resorts and liveaboards from around the world.

BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW – AND WIN BIG! The GO Diving Show is taking place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry from 22-24 February 2019. As well as saving £8 by booking your tickets in advance rather than paying on the door, if you purchase tickets before 31 December 2018, you will go into a prize draw to win dive equipment goodies, including a Suunto EON Steel dive computer, dive luggage from Fourth Element, Ikelite torches courtesy of Cameras Underwater, apres-dive apparel from Scuba Diver - and more are due to be added to the list of kit up for grabs! Book your tickets now! – go to: TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Ticket must be purchased before 31 December 2018. Tickets already purchased will be included in the prize draw. Prize draw only valid on full price tickets for either Saturday or Sunday. Prizes will be drawn at random. Prizes, including a Suunto EON Steel dive computer, dive luggage from Fourth Element, Ikelite torches courtesy of Cameras Underwater, apres-dive apparel from Scuba Diver - and more are due to be added to the list of goodies up for grabs. Rork Media takes no responsibility for prizes that are supplied by a third party. No cash alternative. The competition maybe changed or withdrawn at anytime without prior notice. The publishers decision is final.

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




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.



earning about storytelling and exploring artistic approaches to communicate research and science to the general public is one of my main objectives during the Scholarship year. For that reason, I travelled to Bristol to join the inspiring talks and workshops of the Wild Screen Festival event that gathers natural history film-makers and storytellers from all over the world. There, I had the chance to get to know a little bit more about the profession of bringing the natural world to people’s TVs from members of, for instance, the BBC Natural History Unit that produced the Blue Planet 2 series. We also got advice on how to, for example, pitch in photographic magazines like National Geographic from the senior editor Kathy Moran. Many photographers, film-makers and video editors exposed their personal experiences and tips on techniques and inspiration. It was such an extremely useful experience to take ideas with me and try to apply them in the second half of my Scholarship year. After Bristol, I joined Mark Powell, a referent on diving decompression and wreck diving, to do a TDI Advanced Nitrox and Helitrox course together with instructor-in-training Simon K Jones in Vobster Quay and Chepstow. This was the first time that I was introducing myself to the world of decompression diving and it was surprising to see how my whole perspective to diving changed after this training. Planning the dive according to the gas mix and the diving profile was a fundamental skill to learn, but more importantly was to be able to react and change plans when something was not going according to plan. A bit too deep, a bit too long, and you had to change the whole plan. But when many things are happening at the same time underwater at 40m things get tricky and mistakes are easy to occur. However, with Mark and Simon I got used to problem-solving while being sometimes a bit task-loaded and now I feel more comfortable in deeper

waters. I couldn’t have asked for better mentors to take me to depth than Mark and Simon. Followed by the TDI course I travelled to Birmingham to attend the UK Dive Show that was taking place there, where I had the chance to give a talk together with my European Scholar brother and sister, Danny Copeland and Mae Dorricott. We shared our experiences with the public and encouraged the young audience to apply for our amazing Scholarship opportunity for the next year 2019. There I met with the well-renowned cave and sidemount instructor Garry Dallas (Simply Sidemount). Garry offered to introduce me to the amazing world of sidemount diving. During the Scholarship, I have told myself that I want to experience as many diving techniques and learn as many skills as possible so that afterwards I have the tools to apply diving to a wide array of fields in underwater research. And sidemount really offers great potential. It’s light, feels comfortable, effortless. It really was a great surprise to pass from twinset to this simple setting, and it is definitely a technique that I will be applying in the future. Finally, I made it to London to join the Explorers weekend from the Royal Geographical Society. This was an extraordinary weekend presented by the famous explorer, TV presenter (and many more things) Paul Rose, where many explorers, scientists and artists joined to give different talks and workshops about expedition funding, research outreach, finding the right purpose for an expedition, etc. It was extremely interesting to see how interdisciplinary expeditions are becoming nowadays, where artists, for example, join scientists in the field to document their research so that it can be transmitted to the public from a different perspective. I got extremely inspired by several artists that I talked to and got ideas for the upcoming project that I’m about to adventure myself into. I’m writing these lines right now while packing my bags at home, in Barcelona, before flying to Chile, where I’ll join a team from INACH to conduct a scientific diving campaign during the upcoming days in the Greenwich Island, in the Antarctic peninsula. I’ll let you know about the chilly experience soon! n

Eric Jorda



Stuart Cove is a dive industry icon, having forged a career where he became the go-to man when Hollywood wanted to film underwater. We chatted to the man behind the legend PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF STUART COVE



Q: When did you first start diving? A: I first started diving in 1964, when my father - an avid diver - taught me to dive in our family swimming pool. I was five years old. I became a gofer at the age of seven on my uncle’s dive boat, where I worked during school vacations for $10 a week. While our guests were diving, I would sneak a tank, jump off the back of the boat and go diving on my own.

Stuart started diving at five years old!

Q: You are world-renowned for being behind some of the most-memorable underwater scenes in countless Hollywood movies. How did you first get into the film business? A: A family friend, who was heavily involved in underwater film, was looking for divers, for the crew of For Your Eyes Only, the 1979 Bond film starring Roger Moore. I was brought onto the team as a general crewmember and diver. One thing lead to another and I began to pick up more and more work in the film and television industries. Stuart rocking an old-school camera system

The current Stuart Cove dive centre

Q: Of all of the movies you have been involved with, which stand out the most, and for what reason? A: There are two films that stand out in my mind. The first is Shoot to Kill, in 1988, starring Sidney Poitier, Tom Berenger and Kirstie Allie. In this action film, there is a scene where Poitier and Berenger have fallen off a boat and are fighting each other. I took the two actors into a swimming pool, and taught them to dive and fight underwater. I had them throwing punches at each other and came up with a couple of great sequences. After we got back to the set, and I explained what we had been up to, director Ridley Scott shockingly said: “Stuart, what the hell are you doing, we have stunt people for that!” I guess taking two A-list Hollywood actors in the back of your pick-up down to the local pool is not how it’s done! The second film was Never Say, Never Again, a Bond film in 1982 starring Sean Connery. I have had the pleasure of working with Sean on several projects and built a friendship over many years. On this particular day, we had been diving and Sean brought up a shell from the reef. While the cast and crew were eating lunch, he was showing it to the chef. As she turned and said “Sean, what a lovely shell”, he replied “Yes, but not as half as beautiful as you!” James Bond through and through.


Having fun on a Seabob DPV

Q: You have dived with, and actually taught to dive, many A-list celebrities. Who took to diving straight away, and who needed a little more assistance? A: Over the past 40 years I have indeed worked with and certified many celebrities. Most of the actors and actresses have been very athletic, focused and taken to diving quickly. We forget that in an acting role these people are taught a new skill on most of the films they work on. To be proficient in diving, like most things, you have to do it a lot, work on it and practice. So my hat goes off to the talent that come to me for a couple of days, get certified and now have to look at the role, act and task load on top of that. This being said, I have greatly enjoyed my dive buddies over the years, from Robert Redford, David Jason, Salma Hayek to Paul Walker, Gabriella Reese, Tommy Lee Jones, and the likes of Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Ron Howard, Billy Gates and Tom Hanks to, when they were young, Prince William and Prince Harry.


Q: As well as movies, you are also synonymous with sharks. When did you first become hand’s-on with sharks, and what were the beginnings of your famed shark feeds? A: My first shark hands-on experience was working on For Your Eyes Only in 1979. In those days we worked with live tiger sharks, which were caught on long-lines. It is important to note here that this is no longer allowed and all sharks are protected in Bahamian waters. However, in the late 1970s, the environmental practises that we have today were of no concern, so we did what we needed to do to get the shot. It was by working with sharks on some of my earlier films and learning the skills needed to be safe while working with them that I became interested in sharks, and wanted other people to see what I was seeing. One particular encounter comes to mind that made the light bulb go off in my head. While baiting a line one day in the water looking for sharks, I was by myself, and an inquisitive hammerhead raced up to me from the deep. It hung out for a while as I shouted for everyone else on the boat to jump in and have a look. There was no hesitation. It was exciting and I realised then from the reaction of the people that I was with that actually people do want to see sharks, they just need a means and a safe way to do. It didn’t take me long to develop the shark feed that we do today. I strongly believe that making these animals accessible to people, and using our population of Caribbean reef sharks as advocates for their species, we are educating. The main focus now is to spread what we have learnt and increase the awareness for these vital apex predators. Q: Where is your favourite place to dive? A: The walls and reefs off the southwestern tip of New Providence Island, The Bahamas. Otherwise known as ‘home’. A fresh-faced Stuart driving one of the dive boats

Stuart performing a shark feed

Q: In all of your years of diving, what is the mostmemorable moment? A: Doing what my Dad did for me and introducing my own kids to diving. Q: On the flipside, what is the worst thing that has happened to you while diving? A: In retrospect it is quite funny, but I went diving with one of my best friends and his wife. We had had an amazing wall dive and seen a lot of great things, but as we returned to the mooring line, we found my dive boat was actually sitting on the bottom, at 14m, with all of our stuff floating to the surface. I looked up and saw the captain treading water. We had recently reconstructed the back end of the boat for easy diving access, with a removable door. On her maiden voyage I had forgotten to close the door on the stern and ocean waves had flooded the bilge. Needless to say, this situation has been rectified! Q: Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas is a true monster of a dive operation, with multiple dedicated dive and snorkel boats. What does the future hold for you? A: Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas has some exciting changes coming up. Firstly, we are adding a hotel and restaurant component to our business, allowing our guests to stay on location at the dive shop. There is also talk of a complete relocation of our facility to accommodate these changes, making our overall dive experience better. n



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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.

FOR THE RICH THERE IS THERAPY, FOR THE REST OF US, THERE IS SCUBA DIVING Kirrah Higgins has had more than her fair share of challenges in her young life, being diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome, autism, dyspraxia and ADHD, but she has found that scuba diving has opened up a whole new world to her PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF GUY AND KIRRAH HIGGINS


y first experience with diving was with Diveability, in Hook near Long Sutton. Diveability is a charity that helps people with disabilities access the fun world of scuba diving. Three years ago I was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome, which causes severe pain in my joints. I was also diagnosed with autism two years ago, and more recently with ADHD. When I am diving, I forget I have these difficulties. I’ve been working up towards my Open Water Diver qualification. At the moment, I go monthly. And we practise mask skills every time… This involves clearing my mask underwater, which is important because if it fogs up then it can be a safety hazard. I really like taking the mask off underwater because I like the feel of the bubbles against my face. It makes me feel like I’m getting cleansed. This summer, we went to Gozo in Malta for nine days. My parents have been there before, but I was only five and don’t remember much. The dive centre was called Blue Water Dive Cove. We turned up after lunch and met with Franco, the manager of the centre. My Dad had been emailing him for around a year to make sure that the dive centre was able to meet all my needs and that they understood me well enough to make sure that my experience was the best possible. Franco introduced me to Thibaut, who would be my Divemaster. Thibaut showed me all the symbols we would be using during the dive. I intuitively knew what all of the symbols meant, so managed to learn them really quickly. Me, Thibaut and my Dad walked out into the sea. I was really excited. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was so hot, but the sea cooled me down. We checked our regulators, cleaned our masks and then we submerged beneath the water. I felt calm - all my worries disintegrated. It was like they were at the back of my mind and not at the front anymore. Even though there are bad things going on in the world above the water, scuba diving excludes you from all of that drama. I also have dyspraxia, which basically means I can be clumsy - it affects some of my fine motor skills, like tying my shoelaces. With scuba diving, everything just seems easy and it makes me feel secure and at ease. All the issues and worries float up and away with the bubbles. What you see and hear under the water is calming and peaceful, you feel


a part of the family of fish, and it means I belong there. I have always been told that God has a purpose for me… this is it. I have had a very rough time with schools and friendships, I have been bullied since I was six years old in three mainstream schools. It lowered my self-esteem a lot, I couldn’t sleep at night. I felt lonely and insecure. Scuba diving has helped with my confidence, it’s the thought that you’ve achieved something. It has always been my dream to do scuba diving, I felt like an underwater princess. When I finished doing the dive with Thibaut, he said that I’m a dolphin in the water. Have you ever felt worthless? Have you ever felt like you have to fight with yourself to see if you’re going to get out of bed? Have you ever been betrayed and felt alone? Have you ever felt that nothing good comes your way? Have you ever had suicidal thoughts? Have you ever been controlled, verbally and physically abused by your ‘best friend’, and felt that no one understands you? I have. Scuba diving – it clears your mind. The ocean is here for a reason, to provide food and a home for fish and other species. And it makes people happy. Don’t ruin it for the world. It has a purpose, like us. God made a beautiful place, too many people litter, pollute and don’t take this seriously. It makes me sad, when people damage such a wonderful place. The sea is a friend, the sea is my friend… Google’s definition of autism: A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterised by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. My definition of autism: You’re perfect the way you are.


AQUA LUNG PRO HD | SRP: £305 When it comes to kid-friendly dive kit, a few manufacturers have got their act together, and Aqua Lung is certainly at the forefront when it comes to our younger divers. You can get away with using a standard regular set-up, but things like mask, fins and especially BCD need to fit properly, otherwise you are asking for trouble. Now Aqua Lung do the Wave BCD, which drops down to XXS, and thus will fit the smallest of Bubblemakers, but as my son Luke proclaimed ‘that looks like a kid’s jacket, I want a proper one’. The Wave is a capable, if basic, BCD but I could understand his reasoning – he wants to dive in a BCD the same as an adult, and that is where the Pro HD comes in. This BCD is available in sizes right up to XL, and I have previously tested the L size, but crucially it also goes down to XS, which was just the right size for a racing-snake 11 year old. The Pro HD ticked all the right boxes – not only does it look like a dinky version of an adult BCD, it really IS a fully featured BCD, just in a compact size. The black/charcoal/blue colour scheme is subtle yet also eye-catching, and it has multiple stainless-steel D-rings, large zippered pockets, an octo-pocket and grommets for mounting a dive knife. It also has two pull dumps mounted on the shoulder and kidney area. The Pro HD is also equipped with Aqua Lung’s SureLock II integrated weight

system, and has two nondumpable trim pockets on the tank camband, and this is fantastic for Luke, as getting a weightbelt tight around his non-existent waist is a nightmare, and using all the weight pockets evenly distributes his lead requirements. Luke is now 12 years old, but is yet to start filling out, so he’ll get several years of solid use out of the Pro HD before he grows out of it. Cinched up as tight as it will go on the shoulder straps and cummerbund/waist strap, it works over a rash vest in the pool, but once he is in his wetsuit or a drysuit, it has a bit more adjustment and fits like a glove. He has logged several pool dives on his Pro HD now and is becoming increasingly competent controlling his buoyancy and attaining a decent horizontal trim position in the water. He just can’t wait to take it on some proper dives now, hence a constant stream of questions asking when we are next heading for a warm-water location…


ESME HOWARD, 9, MYTHOLMROYD, WEST YORKSHIRE Esme was desperate to dive and aged eight had her first Bubblemaker session and loved it. She has mastered the SEAL Team program with ease and is an accomplished little diver. Now she is turning ten (in November) she has a plan! Attending the pool every Friday to practice her SEAL Team skills, she’ll soon start working through her open water manual as she has already decided she’s joining our Lanzarote training trip in January 2019 to complete her dives in warm water! We have no doubts she will achieve this with the same skill and determination to join her dad Julian in open water.



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.

Why do we teach children to dive? Bill and Sally Painter of Below the Surface dive centre are keen to teach the next generation of divers the wonders of scuba, and here they explain why they enjoy involving youngsters in the centre


elow the Surface has been teaching PADI courses for 27 years, and introducing scuba to the juniors has always been one of the most-enjoyable areas of our training programmes. In 2016, we changed from a dive school to a PADI Dive Centre and shortly afterwards gained PADI Youth Training Centre status. Our instructors were already CRB covered, but the changed also involved drawing up new child-specific safeguarding policies and guidelines and risk assessments to cover youth training as a specific area. PADI also provide great additional support with the Youth Diving Responsibility and Risks Acknowledgement documents and the parental guide chart. All of our staff are trained to know, understand and act accordingly in respect of safeguarding issues. So, that’s the serious side to the PADI youth training programme, but the reason we do it? The children! The children are fantastic, their enthusiasm doesn’t just brighten our days, they lift the whole club. When you see the likes of Finley literally fly like Superman through his open water dives - his excitement was that great - you can’t help but smile. When we are told that kids on an international summer school – which is attended by children from all over the world and is full of adventure and experience – think the best bit was the scuba, how could you not love it?  When the kids come into the dive centre on a Saturday morning to get their mission sticker for that week’s SEAL Team dive and with so much pride add it to their books, you can’t not share their joy, and when your tiny Bubblemaker and SEAL Team students go on to achieve their Scuba Diver and Open Water and the likes of Rose, Ben, Thomas, Jack, James and so many others go on to even greater things with Advanced, Junior Rescue Diver and even Junior Master Scuba Diver, you can’t not help but share their pride. When they stand in the door aged five, like little Aston, and say they

want to be a diver, honestly it’s inspiring, we don’t turn them away, they come along, watch the divers and learn to snorkel. As far as Aston is concerned, he is a scuba diver and we can’t wait till we can fulfil his dream. Some of our junior divers are like family; you share their ups and downs and their achievements. They come on our trips and many would say ‘don’t kids get in the way of a good dive trip’? We would say ‘No!’ Their enthusiasm creates an energy that we all benefit from. We say long may our juniors continue to dive and we can’t wait to see where it may take them all. We are very proud of our youth divers and look forward to them continuing to enrich our days.


JACK RICH, 19, TODMORDEN, WEST YORKSHIRE We met Jack when he was aged 17. His brother Thomas and Dad Chris had been diving with us for a year and Jack decided it was time he had a go too. Like his younger brother, he was a natural and passed his Open Water with ease and considerable skill. So now they were a three! And with a trip to the Medes Islands in Spain coming up, they decided to take on the Advanced training together, completing with a deep dive in Spain in the clear, warm waters. With new navigation skills and extended depth limits, they explored the islands on non-guided dives - these three make an amazing family buddy team. Jack has now left the club for paramedic training, but we hope he will be back to dive again soon.



Think ‘wreck heaven’ and Scapa Flow springs to mind, but Jason Brown thinks that the very best wreck diving may actually be found off the coast of Ireland… PHOTOGRAPHS BY GRAHAM BLACKMORE

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

Sherman tank, ready for action


ikini Atoll, Truk Lagoon, the Great Lakes, the South China Sea – they’re all wreck-diving destinations guaranteed to put a smile on even the most jaded of wreck diver. You might be surprised to learn that there’s another world-class wreck destination lying not far off our own shores – a rusty-metal nirvana that’s so good that wreck junkies from across the globe journey here to get their fix of its many delights. Ready for another big surprise? It’s not Scapa Flow. While Scotland’s most-famous deep anchorage might grab all the attention, Ireland’s Malin Head offers arguably the very best wreck diving money can buy without enduring a long-haul flight, inflight food-poisoning and a bad case of deep-vein thrombosis. Lying in the clear Atlantic waters off Ireland’s most-northerly coastline, Malin is home to a veritable diver’s playground littered with sunken steel behemoths bristling with deadly weapons of war and wartime paraphernalia. Think big guns, World War Two tanks piled on top of each other like scattered Tonka toys, propellers as big as a truck and live ammunition in every direction and you won’t go far wrong. It’s a wreck diver’s dream! Getting to Malin Head is easy, with the destination well served by transport links from various points in the UK. For divers travelling from England, a ferry from Liverpool to either Belfast or Dublin will see you on the right side of the Irish Sea. From there it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive (from Belfast) to the small fishing village of Carrigart on the Rosguill Penninsula of County Donegal. Offering all the usual trappings of a picturesque Irish fishing village (including a couple of Huge gun barrel pointing towards the surface

supporting divers

Divers explore a gun turret

good pubs), Carrigart is also home to Mevagh Dive Centre, which specialises in serving the wrecks of Malin Head. The dive centre’s hard boat – the MV Laura Dean – is an 11-metrelong catamaran purpose-built to carry divers. Diving Malin Head is strictly for the techies with all but one of the headline dives lying deeper than 50m. Even then, to really maximise your time on any of Malin’s wrecks, a rebreather is the weapon of choice and trimix is a must. Open circuit trimix is an option, but a week’s worth of bubbling will leave a serious dent in your wallet. A rebreather, on the other hand, will be far kinder on your pocket and deliver the sort of bottom times you need to truly appreciate the world-class diving on offer. Nowhere is this more evident than on the first of Malin’s wrecks – HMS Audacious. Sunk in October 1914 after hitting a German mine, Audacious was a 23,000-tonne King George V-class Dreadnought that saw no more than a year of service

supporting manufacturers

It’s the bow that is the biggest draw for most – few can resist having their photo taken Titanic-style from the railings that still run along its top

The bow of the Justicia

Dead man’s fingers adorn a propeller

Massive anchor windlass

before she slipped beneath the waves. Like many top-heavy battleships of the time, Audacious ‘turned turtle’ as she sank and now lies upside down at a depth of 64m. Despite her lessthan-glorious service record, Audacious is regarded by many as the signature wreck of Malin Head thanks to one iconic feature – an upturned gun turret complete with massive 13.5inch gun barrels that now lie flat against the rocky seabed. It’s hard not to be blown away by the sheer scale of these monstrous weapons of war. Getting out to Audacious takes about two hours as the wreck now lies approximately 15 miles offshore. Most skippers will shot the wreck amidships near the iconic turret, but the stern is also a good place to start. Visibility can be so good – 20-30 metres plus is not unheard of - that the massive turret can be seen during descent! Moving on, it’s worth venturing further afield to check out the Audacious’ four large props still visible at the stern and the massive cylindrical barbette that once protected one of the ship’s five main gun turrets behind its ten-inch thick armour. Thirty years later with World War Two in full swing, Malin Head would claim another victim – the SS Empire Heritage.


There is much In September 1944 while enroute to to explore on Liverpool from America carrying heavy the wrecks war supplies, two torpedoes from the German submarine U-482 ended her journey with the loss of 113 lives. Today the Empire Heritage lies on her starboard side at a depth of 66m. Her violent end and years of bearing the brunt of Atlantic storms have taken their toll on the wreck, which is now heavily broken up. Much of her cargo is now strewn across the seabed and it is this that visiting divers come to see. Scattered around the wreck are all manner of military vehicles including half-tracks, trucks and – of course – the Empire Heritage’s famous Sherman tanks. Most visiting divers describe the scene as quite surreal – many are in such good condition that they look like they’re sat waiting for the order to head into action! Heading out further afield, the next big headline wreck is the White Star Ocean Liner SS Justicia, which was requisitioned as a troop ship by the British Government during World War One. Sat upright at a depth of almost 70m, the Justicia is also the furthest out. For those hardy enough to brave the three-hour boat transfer to the wreck site, the Justicia’s sheer size makes her a wreck like no other! Sunk by six torpedoes fired into her by the German


submarines UB-64 and UB-124 in July 1918, it’s difficult to comprehend just how big Justicia really was – at over 32,000 tonnes and 237 metres long, she was one of the largest vessels lost during the war. Today she makes for perhaps one of the best dives that Malin Head has to offer. While she may lack the big guns and tanks that are such a draw for other wrecks in the area, what the Justicia lacks in military hardware she more than makes up for in scale. Everything about the Justicia is big – from the oversized chains, derricks and capstans on her foredeck to the massive anchor that still sits in place on what remains of the broken-off bow section. It’s the bow that is the biggest draw for most – few can resist having their photo taken Titanicstyle from the railings that still run along its top. It’s a good thing that Mevagh’s boat is well prepared for all that the Atlantic can throw at it as diving Malin Head isn’t for the faint-hearted or the weak of stomach. With the area exposed to southerly winds and Atlantic swells, losing the odd day to bad weather isn’t unheard of, and the ride out to the wrecks can often be lumpy. Malin offers those hardy enough to endure the topside conditions something unmatched in this part of the world – world-class diving in fantastic vis on wrecks brimming with jaw-dropping spectacle. For those dived up and experienced enough to take on the challenge, Malin Head has it all. n Divers approach an intact bow section

The visibilty can often be phenomenal

Scattered around the wreck are all manner of military vehicles including half-tracks, trucks and – of course – the Empire Heritage’s famous Sherman tanks




Las Vegas welcomed the DEMA (Diving Equipment and Marketing Association) Show from 14-17 November this year. The trade-only event brings together brands in the diving, watersports and adventure travel industries, attracting hundreds of exhibitors annually. The Scuba Diver team hit the show floor in the midst of the action to find out about new releases and launches. Here’s a rundown of some of the products crowds were getting their hands on at the show…

SUUNTO D5 The Suunto D5 is a new, easy-to-use dive computer for entry-level divers with a full-colour display and an interchangeable strap. Users can take wireless tank pressure readings by pairing this with the Suunto Tank POD, and can also connect wirelessly to the Suunto app to upload dive information and share experiences with friends. It features three buttons to easily switch between views and settings, a rechargeable battery, a stainless-steel bezel and reinforced composite case. The D5 also allows divers to alter the look of their dive computer with a range of silicone and leather straps that can be changed with a quick-release system. The D5 is available in four colours (black/lime, all black, white and black) and is set to go on sale early in 2019.

UNIVERSAL FIT REGMOUNT New for 2019, this gadget provides scuba divers with the option of adding a camera, light or both to the second stage regulator or fullface mask without adding any additional weight. Plus, you have the option of 360-degree positioning for the perfect set-up. The RegMount Buoyancy Assistance Device (BAD) offsets the weight of added accessories, rendering them neutral to positively buoyant when submerged. The extender arm allows divers to choose the ideal camera or light position for the best possible angle, while ensuring the added accessories are in a low-profile, safe position. It works with all versions of GoPro cameras or similar action cameras. Retails at US$34.95. 84

SEALIFE’S SEA DRAGON 3000F UNDERWATER LIGHT Underwater camera company SeaLife has introduced the new Sea Dragon 3000F light. The light features two red LEDs which emit an 88° wide ‘stealth mode’ beam, that has been designed to avoid scaring away night time sea creatures and preserve your eyes’ natural night vision. One of the most-innovative features of this light is an ‘Auto Flash Detection Mode’, which turns the light off for one second when an external flash is detected. This helps to create a well-lit image and prevents both shadows and overexposure in underwater photos. Powered by a rechargeable 25Wh lithium ion battery, the Sea Dragon 3000F burns for a full hour at 100 percent power at constant brightness. It is depth rated to 100m and includes a Flex Connect Grip and single tray. It is available in the UK and costs US$499.95.

DRYCASE WATERPROOF DUFFEL BAG: THE FORTY Known for its top-of-the-line waterproof bags and backpacks, Drycase has pulled out all the stops with its latest creation, a waterproof duffel bag named The Forty. The roomy, 100 percent waterproof duffel can also be used as a backpack. Featuring a completely waterproof compartment, The Forty has the ability to hold up to 40 litres, along with a velcro closure with an integrated pocket to hold smaller items and a mesh pocket to separate the wet items from the waterproof area. It includes a webbing to secure carabiners on the top, along with removable and adjustable shoulders straps so you can alter straps to a length that suits you. The Forty retails for US$110. WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

FOURTH ELEMENT HYDRA The second new launch from Fourth Element is the Hydra drysuit, a 4mm high-density neoprene fabric suit that features a hard-wearing outer lining for durability, and a smooth inner lining for comfort. It has a slick appearance, with a close-fitting, streamlined design. Other features include Helioflex thermallined neoprene socks, neoprene neck seal, supratex linings in critical harness-wear areas, a plastic YKK zip for minimal bulk and protective plasma seams on the torso. Fourth Element told us that the Hydrasuit is well suited for water temperatures of around -2 to 10 degrees C. The Hydra will be available in Spring 2019 for the price of around £1,000 (with final pricing to be confirmed).


FOURTH ELEMENT’S OCEANPOSITIVE SURFACE WETSUIT Fourth Element showcased its new and revolutionary wetsuit named the Surface. Featuring Yulex® Pure natural neoprene made from sustainable latex, aqua-based glue and no harmful solvents, it’s a suit for the eco-conscious diver - particularly as it includes a 95 percent recycled polyester lining from post-consumer plastic bottles. This suit is designed for surface watersports, so it’s great for shallow diving or freediving, snorkelling or paddle boarding. Tested to a 30m depth, it is 4mm on the torso and 3mm on the arms. It features minimalist branding with water-based inks, inner ankle and wrist seals and it comes in biodegradable packaging. The price tag is yet to be confirmed, as is the on-sale date.

ABINGDON MARINA DIVE WATCH The Abingdon Marina, a dive watch designed by a team of female divers who wanted a watch that hadn’t been ‘pinked and shrinked,’ made its debut at the DEMA show. Over the course of two years, seven professional female divers and instructors designed the Marina, which is both fully functional and sound at depths of 200m, and features a mother of pearl dial and lightweight titanium case. The Marina features a world timer, which is a bidirectional inner bezel with cities printed around it which enables the wearer to see different time zones across the world. The Marina is available in seven colours on Amazon, or direct from for US$799.


Taking customised kit to the next level, Aqua Lung’s colourful reversible bladder covers for the Outlaw and Rogue BCDs caught our attention at the show. The brand has created several colour options – teal, galaxy and blue – and also a high-vis orange and yellow version for instructors. It’s made from 1mm neoprene and can be matched with certain wetsuits from the brand. It’s priced at $49 and will be landing in the UK by Spring next year. WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

Limited-edition colours of the Oceanic Shadow mask were previewed at DEMA, with hot pink, white, yellow and turquoise all featuring. The brand is testing the water with these colours, but the limited-edition colours might become a permanent fixture in the range. The colours are also available for the Mini Shadow mask, which has a smaller skirt. All Oceanic masks are made with 100 percent liquid silicon skirts and are designed to be long lasting and conform to your shape. The mask will hit the UK around Spring 2019 and will priced at US$79.95. 85

Gear Guide


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


This issue, we round out our group tests of fins, this time looking at the top end of the range. Fins are one of the most-important parts of a diver’s kit, as without them you will not be going anywhere! A set of fins is very personal, and once people find a fin they like, they can end up being very loyal. A good pair of fins needs to fit well, be comfortable, easy to get on and off, and work with a variety of fin strokes. With each pair of fins, we looked at ease of donning and doffing, comfort of the foot pocket, and what power/control they provided in a selection of fin strokes, including a ‘normal’ finning action, frogkick, back kick, helicopter turns, etc. In this price bracket, most of the fins follow the paddle fin approach, albeit some with a few little tweaks (vents, etc).


• ZEAGLE RECON Location: Tested at Vivian Dive Centre, Llanberis

Date tested: 20/9/2018 Water temp: 9 degrees C WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM

APEKS RK3 HD | SRP: £120 The Apeks RK3 fins are made from a durable thermoplastic rubber, and were developed in collaboration with the US military. The short, wide blade is designed to provide maximum forward thrust while maintaining great manoeuvrability, and the vented design is intended to reduce resistance on the upstroke and enhance thrust on the downstroke. It is available in three sizes - medium, large and super and has an oversized foot pocket to accommodate drysuit boots and rock boots. This was the HD version - which is a stiffer compound - and it comes in black, orange or grey. They are also equipped with a chunky spring strap and rubber thumb tab to make them easy to get on and off. The Test Team raved about these fins in the last group test, and those were the standard version. These HD fins are even better, the stiffer compound providing an evengreater level of thrust, but not at the expense of your leg muscles feeling the strain. Robustly built, simple but good looking, they work well with all fin kicks, and are so easy to get on and off. Belting fin for the money.



TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 2.82kg per pair | STRAP: Metal spring with thumb loop VERDICT: Excellent fins, which look good (especially in this funky orange), perform exceptionally well in this HD compound, and come in at a reasonable price.



ATOMIC AQUATIC SPLITFINS | SRP: £154 Atomic Aquatics are known for their premier products, and they approached fins the same way they went about their regs and BCD - to make the best. The SplitFins - they also do two paddle fins as well were designed to be ‘easy kicking fins that deliver high thrust, speed, and efficiency with a comfortable, lowfrequency kick cycle’. Thanks to having stiff ‘power rails’ down either side of the blade, and strong yet flexible sections in the blade itself, it is one of the few split fins that can actually cope with other kicking styles than a flutter kick. They are fitted with a rubber heel strap, with quickrelease EZ-Lok clips, though a spring heel strap option is available. The Atomics were the only split fins in this price bracket, and one of only two in the entire group test. They are a long fin, and do produce plenty of power with a flutter kick for relatively little effort. You can frog kick and back kick in them, but it is harder than in a short, stumpy paddle fin.

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 2.82kg per pair | STRAP: Rubber bungee & thumb loop VERDICT: Robust, durably constructed split fins with a large, comfy foot pocket. Plenty of power with a flutter kick, though we would have liked to have seen a spring strap as standard.





MARES EXCITE | SRP: £132 As we’ve said before, Mares are past masters when it comes to fin design - just look at how many instructors out there wear Avanti Quattros - and thankfully the Excite continue this tradition. Made from thermoplastic rubber and technopolymers, the Excite are quite big fins, but they certainly throw out some power. Mares’ renowned channel system directs water flow down the fin and off the back of the blade tip, and gives thrust without completely destroying your leg muscles. They are equipped with an efficient rubber bungie heel strap with thumb loops, for easy donning and doffing of the fins. After the disappointment of last month’s mid-price Wave fins, the Excites thankfully get back to the high standards set by the budget Avanti Superchannels. They are a big fin and do give your legs a workout, but not as much as some of the other paddle fins here. And despite being long, you can still frog kick and back kick with them, though they are not as easy to move around in as some of the shorter, stumpier fins.

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 2.04kg per pair | STRAP: Rubber bungie / thumb loops VERDICT: Well-made, good-looking fins with a comfortable foot pocket, easy-to-use bungie heel straps and an efficient blade that generates decent amounts of thrust.



OCEANIC MANTA RAY | SRP: £124.95 Oceanic have been languishing behind its rivals in the fin arena for a while, but the Manta Ray solves all of that. This eye-catching fin has a technopolymer blade that according to Oceanic uses ‘advanced materials as strong as bone to maximise power, speed and efficiency, while remaining extremely lightweight and durable. ‘Winglets’ on the length of the fin blade are supposed to improve manoeurvability. It has a spring strap with a large thumb loop to make getting the fins on and off a doddle. It has a no-tool adjustment system that lets you shorten - or lengthen - the strap, which means you can change as you go from wetsuit boot to drysuit boot. The Manta Ray fins certainly stand out thanks to their unique shape, but it is more than just looks. That broad blade, with the soft scalloped ‘power channel’ section in the middle surrounded by the rigid frame, really scoops up the water and generates power. The foot pocket is comfortable, and we really liked the adjustable strap - it is simple, but works very well. Good in all fin strokes, and well priced too.

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 1.94kg per pair | STRAP: Spring strap with thumb loops VERDICT: Uniquely designed fins with an unusual blade that generates lots of thrust. Comfortable, good-looking and with a nifty adjustable spring strap system.






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OMS SLIPSTREAM | SRP: £125 OMS have been making technical diving equipment for many years, and the Slipstream fins tap into this rich heritage - they look genuinely ‘old school’ and hark back to the good old days of diving. Made from durable monoprene, they have a broad paddle fin with three vents just in front of the foot pocket, and are equipped with a stainless steel spring strap covered in a webbing material. It is available in a wide range of sizes, from M up to XXL, and there are currently two limited-edition colours available alongside standard black - hot pink and white. The Slipstreams brought back memories of my uncle’s old Scubapro Jetfins when I first saw them. The old-school design has a huge paddle blade, and these certainly punches through the water, creating serious amounts of propulsion. They work well with frog kicks and back kicks, and being quite stumpy, are manouervable as well. The large foot pocket is comfortable and swallows a drysuited boot. The material-covered spring strap works but was a faff to get hold of with neoprened hands - it could do with a tab or thumb loop.

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 2.36kg per pair | STRAP: Spring straps / material cover VERDICT: Old-school monoprene vented paddle fins with a broad blade, plenty of power, and a gigantic foot pocket. That spring strap needs a thumb loop or tab, though.



SCUBAPRO SEAWING NOVA | SRP: £155 The Scubapro Seawing Novas are lightweight and were designed to combine the power, acceleration and manoeuvrability of a blade fin with the kicking comfort and efficiency of a split fin. They certainly stand out thanks to their unique design. Made from monprene, and with an articulated hinge that enables the entire wingshaped blade to pivot and generate thrust, they also have a well-engineered footplate with co-molded grip pads to provide non-skid foot on slippery surfaces. They are fitted with bungee heel straps that have a large thumb loop. The Seawing Novas are certainly unusual and take a novel approach to fin design. By and large, it works and works well. They provide a phenomenal amount of thrust, allowing you to accelerate from a standing start to a fast speed in no time, and seemingly with little effort. The non-slip grip pads work too, and the bungee heel straps make donning and doffing very easy. They are quite a long fin, though, and while you can frog kick and back kick in them, it is not as easy as with some of its rivals tested here.

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 2.08kg per pair | STRAP: Bungie with rubber thumb loop VERDICT: Uniquely designed fins with some wicked acceleration, reasonable frog and back kick, and a nifty bungie heel strap. Large, comfortable foot pocket.





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XDEEP EX1 | SRP: £125 Polish brand xDeep have now got in on the propulsion act with these big, chunky technopolymer fins. The xDeep EX1 are available in a range of finishes, from ‘soft’ through ‘medium hard’ to ‘hard’ so you can tailor which flexibility best suits your style of kicking/diving. Being made from a technopolymer, they don’t change parameters whatever the water temperatures, unlike rubber. Regardless of which ‘hardness’ you select, the foot pocket has a two-phase moulding, in that the front part is made of a softer material for added comfort. They are fitted with a stainless-steel spring strap and large thumb loop for simple donning and doffing. The EX1 fins look like a straightforward rubber tech fin, but the nifty technopolymer used in their construction means they are not as heavy as a rubber equivalent, and as stated above, are not affected by temperature. The Medium Hard version we tested provided some serious propulsion, though as par for the course with a fat-blade fin like this, you need decent leg muscles to really get the most out of them. Excellent back kick and frog kick, and a great stainless-steel spring strap.

TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 2.88kg per pair | STRAP: Spring strap with thumb loop VERDICT: Chunky fin made from an advanced technopolymer, which generate lots of power. Great stainless-steel spring straps. But please can we can a larger size - even XL is not that big.



ZEAGLE RECON | SRP: £114.95 Zeagle have now joined the fin race, and the Recons put in a strong performance while still coming in at a cracking price. According to Zeagle, ‘aerodynamic surfaces, four strategic strakes on the top and underside, and thick side ribs combine to generate optimal thrust and performance across the entire fin’. Made from compression-moulded rubber, they are strong and durable - and negatively buoyant - and are equipped with a quick-fastening, adjustable stainless steel spring strap with large thumb loop for easy donning and doffing. For those wanting to brighten up their ensemble, colour-accent kits for the buckle and thumb loop are available. The Recon fins really put Zeagle on the map in the world of fins, and they give all of their rivals a wake up call that there is a new kid on the block. They are solid, heavy, well-made fins, with a good heft to them, and they are comfortable to wear, and easy to get on and off. That blade works well, pumping out some serious thrust and being spot-on with all fin kicks. Excellent value for money.



TECH SPECS & VERDICT WEIGHT: 3.42kg per pair | STRAP: Spring strap with thumb loops VERDICT: Neat-looking design, nifty adjustable spring heel strap with monster thumb loops, a decent foot pocket and a blade that delivers in all finning styles. And at an amazing price point.






With just one split fin in the mix, this was a real ‘battle of the paddles’, but there were some unusual variants in there too, such as the Manta Ray and Seawing Nova. The Best Value was a fight between the Oceanic Manta Rays, Apeks RK3 HDs and the Zeagle Recons. All three performed exceptionally well in all fin kicks, generating plenty of power and control, and each were easy to get on and off. In the end, the Recons just tipped the balance - under £115 for a fin of this quality is an absolute steal. Well deserving of the title, though the Oceanic Manta Rays are also a great fin for the price, as are the Apeks RK3 HDs. The Choice Award saw the Mares Excite go up against the Apeks RK3 HDs and the xDeep EX1s. It was a close run thing as all three had their own merits, but in the end, the Apeks RK3 HDs just scraped ahead of the EX1s (lovely fins, but please, xDeep, can we have one bigger size, as the foot pocket on the XL is just not that big) and the Excites. The original RK3s are nice fins, but the stiffer compound HDs just lift them to another level. Worthy winners of the Choice award.



Long Term Test SHEARWATER RESEARCH TERIC Mark Evans: Shearwater Research are renowned for their dive computers, and now they have targeted the wristwatch-style market. In short, the Teric has all the features divers have come to love in the company’s computers - and more. It has four buttons rather than the usual two, but Shearwater have applied situationally adaptable logic to their menus and buttons, making it easy to figure out. It also comes with a wirelessly rechargeable INFORMATION Arrival date: December 2018 battery, and it has tech, Suggested retail price: £918 OC tech, CCR and Number of dives: 0 freediving modes. Time in water: 0 hrs 0 mins

BARE ULTRAWARMTH 7MM HOOD Mark Evans: The Ultrawarmth series from BARE incorporates Celliant technology, and I had had previous experience of this development from a past DEMA trade show. It almost seems too good to be true, a fabric interwoven with this stuff that absorbs your body heat and then reflects it back to you, but you know what, it really works! Even though the water temp was low single digits, my head was toasty above and beyond the warmth you get from a standard 7mm hood. 94

INFORMATION Arrival date: November 2018 Suggested retail price: £64.95 Number of dives: 3 Time in water: 3 hrs 15 mins


Mark Evans: I only tend to dive in my dive computer currently a rather lovely Shearwater Perdix AI - and then whatever other units I am in the process of reviewing. However, to see how the Deep 6 holds up to being used as a genuine dive watch, I have been wearing it on INFORMATION Arrival date: June 2018 the other wrist. So far it is Suggested retail price: £195 coping well - there is not a Number of dives: 19 mark on it. Time in water: 17 hrs 15 mins


Mark Evans: The Scope Mono has been diving with me a few more times, and these dips have confirmed my previous findings that it is very comfortable on the face, easy to clear and that ski-mask-style elasticated strap is bloody marvellous. Another neat aspect of this strap is the fact that you can take it off and swap it for a completely different INFORMATION Arrival date: September 2018 coloured one if you want Suggested retail price: £59.95 to be colour-co-ordinated, Number of dives: 10 or just fancy a change. Time in water: 9 hrs 25 mins WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


Mark Evans: The Aqua Lung Rogue has been back in morelocal waters after its jaunt to Grenada, and I am still liking its blend of comfort and back to basics design. The lightweight nature of the padded backpad and the detachable waist strap and shoulder straps means that Aqua Lung were able to retain their nifty metal tank-band clamp, which securely locks the cylinder in place with minimal effort - and thanks to its clever design, you INFORMATION Arrival date: August 2018 don’t risk trapping your fingers under it as it clamps Suggested retail price: £455 Number of dives: 37 into place. Time in water: 36 hrs 55 mins

HALCYON INFINITY Mark Evans: A few more dives done on the Halcyon Infinity and I am still liking this backplate-andwing combo. I hate wearing a weightbelt these days, and thankfully the Infinity comes equipped with a set of Halcyon’s neat integrated weight pockets, which hold the pouches containing your lead securely in place using chunky pinch-clip releases. They are mounted in a vertical orientation, so once you release them, the INFORMATION Arrival date: October 2018 pouches can be jettisoned Suggested retail price: £777 or removed very easily Number of dives: 5 single-handedly. Time in water: 4 hrs 55 mins WWW.SCUBADIVERMAG.COM


Mark Evans: The brand new Finnsub 20D and Comfort Harness is still being finetuned, so watch this space for when it arrives!

INFORMATION Arrival date: September 2018 Suggested retail price: £579 Number of dives: 0 Time in water: 0 hrs 0 mins

MARES QUAD AIR Mark Evans: And so the Mares Quad Air comes to the end of its run in Long Term Test. This computer has accompanied us on dives both here in the UK and in warmer waters abroad, and it performed well in all conditions. In a time when colour screens are all the rage, the large LCD display on the Quad Air proves that old-school can still be effective, and it is easy to read even in low-vis environments. Even with its large screen, it is lightweight thanks to its construction, and the buttons are easy to use INFORMATION Arrival date: May 2018 even with gloves. A great Suggested retail price: £318 air-integrated computer for Number of dives: 34 the price point. Time in water: 33 hrs 10 mins 95

















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THE TANK Joe Cross


IN CHARGE! There’s a new team in charge at Blue Planet Aquarium, striving to give the customer the best and mostinformative experience possible.


Mark Iwachiw

Mark’s love for the marine world started at a young age. He started diving at eight years old and was instantly hooked. His passion for diving and the marine world grew over time and he has had the privilege of diving at some of the world’s great locations, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the Galapagos Islands. Mark graduated back in 2012 with a Bsc Marine Biology and from then on pursued the path of become a PADI dive instructor. After qualifying later that year, he worked for a local dive centre for four years and was in charge of the servicing and training departments. In 2016, Mark went on a volunteer programme (LovetheOceans) in Mozambique, where he was involved with active research and local education. Upon returning to the UK, he started working at Blue Planet Aquarium as an Aquarium Diver and over the past two years has progressed up the ranks to Dive Officer.

JOE CROSS – ASSISTANT DIVE OFFICER I first started diving when I was on a family holiday in Malta when I was 14, I had wanted to get into diving for a while before this, and was eager to take up the sport when the opportunity arose. I very quickly fell in love with diving, getting to see all the fish and being weightless in the water, it was right up my street. After completing my Open Water course, I knew it was something I wanted to keep up and it sparked an interest in everything in the aquatic world. Once I was old enough, I went to university in Aberystwyth to study Marine and Freshwater Biology. Once I graduated from university, I had to make a choice as all students have to – ‘What do I want to do now I have finished?’ I couldn’t look past working in the diving industry, so I contacted my local diving schools and started my professional diving qualifications. I

quickly rose to become a PADI Staff Instructor and got a job as a diver at Blue Planet Aquarium. It was like a dream come true getting to dive with these amazing animals all day, everyday, and I was even able to do some teaching on the side, which allowed me to share my passion with others. The whole team share the same ideals and want to bring new divers into the sport and educate and promote conservation in diving. It is very important to all divers to help conserve the waters we dive in and the wider marine environment to allow us to enjoy the wonders of the aquatic world, and for future generations to enjoy the sport just as much as we have. The aquatic environment needs bastions to help protect it, and we have to look at people who are already passionate to help spread the enthusiasm we all share. n

If you would like more information on diving with our sharks, please call us on (0151) 357 8800, or send us an email to: 98


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Scuba Diver Magazine - December 18  

Scuba Diver Magazine - December 18