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Cover SEPT.qxp_April Cover(final) 27/07/2017 15:20 Page 1






Can coldwater wildlife diving get any better?

Why the 9-month surface interval for mothers-to-be?


ways to stay safe aboard the dive-boat

Shipwrecks, seahorses & spirits in Barbados


Whirlwind tour of the Maltese islands

SUSSING SUMBAWA t e n . s g a m d l or NGA New prospect in Indonesia





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DIVE 2017 – 08_17.qxp_Layout 1 03/08/2017 10:44 Page 04

Whatever you’re looking for in your diving, you’ll find it at …

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Since when does modern equal safer? INCCREDIBLY E A S Y.



’VE BEEN LUCKY. To date, I haven’t suffered from decompression illness (despite the odd scare) and I fervently hope to stay that way.

I can barely imagine how painful DCI must be, and a vestibular bend, affecting the inner ear, must be not only agonising but horribly disorientating. Should this condition occur while you’re still doing stops, that’s bad. Once you’re at the surface, it’s no less bad, especially if you’re in some remote location far from a hyperbaric facility.


First In SEPT 2.qxp_May First In 31/07/2017 12:11 Page 03

But if you surface off the UK coast, with everything you need available, from helping hands to oxygen, a dive-boat and a radio, you might be forgiven for expecting relief to be imminent. Not necessarily so, it seems, in this protracted age of austerity. The very day after the Portland Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter was axed in early July, a diver with a vestibular bend had to wait 90 minutes for a chopper to fly over from south Wales and airlift him to the pot (see our lead story in News).


A certain amount of debate later ensued between the divers and the Coastguard about just how delayed the response had been – and how to define “response”. But whoever’s version you accept, diver Marcus Blatchford had a wait none of us would want – and by all accounts arrived at the chamber only just in time to save his hearing.


EETHING TROUBLES? The Coastguard and its masters at the Department of Transport insist that the new privatised system of SAR helicopters, eschewing the former assistance of the RAF and Royal Navy, will be more reliable because it has been “modernised”. According to sociologist Krishan Kumar, “modernisation” has two phases: “Up to a certain point in its course, it carries the institutions and values of society along with it, in what is generally regarded as a progressive, upward movement. Initial resistance to modernisation may be sharp and prolonged, but it is generally doomed to failure.


T HE NE X T GA L IL EO H A S A RRI V E D . E a s y t o us e and inc r e dibl y c us t omi z able , t he ne w G 2 gi v e s y ou t he po w er t o go an y w her e and s e e a n y t h i n g , m o r e c l e a r l y t h a n e v e r. B o a s t i n g a l a r g e r, m o r e v i b r a n t s c r e e n , B l u e t o o t h , a n d a l o n g b a t t er y li f e , t he G 2 is e a s y t o r e ad , e a s y t o m a n a g e a n d e a s y t o l o v e . I t ’s e v e r y t h i n g y o u ’ d e x p e c t f r o m S C U B A P R O – i n f u l l c o l o r.


“Beyond some point, however, modernisation begins to breed discontent on an increasing scale.” We seem to have reached that point. Modernisation in austerity Britain has placed flammable cladding on high-rise dwellings, for example, a development nobody would now dare to call progressive. The closure of SAR helicopter bases is part of a modernisation programme designed, let’s face it, to save the government cash. The Coastguard promises that under the new system a helicopter will be on hand within 60 minutes of take-off. Putting myself in the place of a bent diver, I’m afraid that pledge leaves me not at all reassured. The South-west is one of the busiest regions in the UK for water-users so the number of emergency call-outs is high. The Portland helicopter was axed, bizarrely, in summer, with the Dorset coast at its busiest. Discontent is increasing, but mass petitions and letters from the local MP asserting that lives will be lost have been brushed aside. With the new arrangement now a fait accompli, divEr’s message to any of you diving in this (or in fact any) part of Britain is this: please don’t take chances. This is the modern world – but that doesn’t make it a safer world.


RNLI (DiveSafe) – 10_16.qxp_RNLI 23/08/2016 16:33 Page 1

THERE ARE LOTS OF HAND SIGNALS IN DIVING WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEART, THIS SHOULDN’T BE ONE OF THEM Book an appointment with a healthcare professional or diving doctor and check that your heart is up to it.

FIND OUT MORE AT RNLI.ORG/DIVESAFE The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Registered charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland.

Contents SEPT.qxp_Layout 1 31/07/2017 12:11 Page 5

the magazine that’s straight down the line… SEPTEMBER 2017

Volume 62 No 9

Published monthly by Eaton Publications Ltd, Suite B, 74 Oldfield Road, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2HR Tel: 020 8941 8152


Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Nigel Eaton Editor Steve Weinman


Publishing Consultant Tony Weston Production Manager George Lanham Webmaster Mike Busuttili Advertisement Manager Jenny Webb Senior Advertisement Executive Alex Khachadourian Advertising Production David Eaton Subscriptions Manager Marketing, Sales & divEr Bookshop Dorothy Eaton Accounts Assistant Julian Auty

EDITORIAL CONSULTANTS Archaeology Dave Parham Biology Dr David Bellamy Freediving Marcus Greatwood Industry Dr John Bevan Law Prof Mike Williams Medicine Dr Ian Sibley-Calder Photography Saeed Rashid, Brian Pitkin Ships Richard Larn Wrecks Rex Cowan


‘Divine’ coldwater diving in BC, Canada


History, myth and humpback whales in Tonga


God’s Pocket......................... In the Glassy Ripples Show Business The build-up to DIVE 2017 at the NEC continues


The trouble with diving before you’ve been born


A new name in Indonesia’s dive-location lexicon


Grieving in Gozo – but there are compensations


Australian cave-diving from an updated bible


A wreck with an intriguing history in Greece


Surprisingly colourful Scottish slug-fest


A flying visit to Barbados


Five tips from DAN for doing just that

Baby Diver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sumbawa Window Pains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Darkness Beckons

HOW TO GET divEr MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION: Twelve issues, including p&p, cost £52.80 (UK); £64.80 (Eire/Europe/Worldwide surface); airmail rates available on request. Pay by Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, sterling cheque or UK Postal Order. Contact the Subscriptions Dept, divEr Magazine, at the above address. NEWSAGENT: If you prefer to buy divEr over the counter, please order from your newsagent. All newsagents can obtain divEr, but in case of difficulty notify the Subscriptions Dept at the above address. divEr (ISSN-0141-3465) is published monthly by Eaton Publications,

Periodicals Postage Paid at Jamaica NY 11431. USPS no. 22517. US agent: Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. US POSTMASTER: Send address changes to divEr Magazine, c/o Air Business Ltd, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. The reproduction in whole or in part of any of the contents of divEr is expressly forbidden without the written permission of the Publishers. Copyright © 2017 by Eaton Publications Ltd. divEr reserves the right to reproduce on-line any articles that it has published in print. The views expressed in FIRST IN are not necessarily those of anyone but the Editor, and other editorial should be ascribed only to the authors concerned. The publishers accept no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or alterations, or for any consequences ensuing upon the use of, or reliance upon, any information contained herein.

View of the Volos Nudi GB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rum, Reefs & Wrecks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

COVER IMAGE: Pregnant Jade, by Henley Spiers

Due caution should be exercised by anyone attempting dives on any site herein described or indicated. The company does not accept liability for submitted photographs. The printing of an advertisement in divEr does not necessarily mean that the Proprietors endorse the company, item or service advertised.


divEr is distributed by Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT and printed by Stones Ashford Ltd, The Invicta Press, Queens Road, Ashford, Kent TN24 8HH.

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Contents SEPT.qxp_Layout 1 31/07/2017 12:11 Page 6

Britain’s best-selling diving magazine

CONTENTS REGULARS 3 8 19 36 49 57 70 80 82 88 98

First In Editor’s view

News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Portland SAR helicopter: ‘Missing you already!’

Beachcomber 47 Metres Down, bondage and an eclipse speciality

Be the Champ! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Respect the humble anthias, says Alex Mustard

Technique Simon Pridmore kicks off etiquette mini-series

Trewavas On top wreck-diving disasters

Review. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Four new books, and Chasing Coral on Netflix

Booking Now More propositions for your next diving holiday

Diver Tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Can Ward work a G2 computer with no manual?

Just Surfaced New but untested diving products

Deep Breath A 10-year-old diver enjoys a thrilling baptism

PLUS 91 Dive Holiday Directory 92 Liveaboard Directory 94 Classified Ads 96 Dive Centre Directory 96 Advertisers’ Index Here 97 –Subscribe and get an Apeks diving watch! divEr


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News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:12 Page 8


Guests from the Overseas speed away from the burning vessel.

‘Someone will die’: divers speak out on axed Portland helicopter A



‘Disgraceful’: Skipper Ian Taylor addresses the crowd at Portland Marina. reaching the hyperbaric facility in Poole, and had been told by staff that because of the delay his stay in the chamber was twice as long as it would have been had he arrived earlier – a total of nine hours. A further 10-minute delay in the rescue could have left lasting effects, including deafness, he was told. As it is, Blatchford was said to have recovered, but would not be able to dive again for at least six weeks.


HILE BLATCHFORD was still waiting for the airlift Ian Taylor, the skipper of Skin Deep who had been working in his dive-shop in Portland, spoke to a crowd of several hundred people gathered at the nearby marina about the ongoing incident. It happened that they were waiting for the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to past Portland SAR crews. Taylor told them: “I’ve got a dive-boat at the moment out in Weymouth Bay

with an injured diver on it – they requested a helicopter 40 minutes ago and we still haven’t had a helicopter. “I don’t want to put the mockers on today … which is all about saying thank you for the helicopter that was here, but I think what’s going on now is disgraceful.” His short address, filmed by BBC Spotlight, was warmly applauded. Taylor later said that the Coastguard had been informed of the incident at 1.40pm but the helicopter had not arrived until 3.10pm. He also told divEr that Skin Deep‘s skipper on the day had been told by the Coastguard to keep heading east – even though the helicopter was coming from the other direction. The MCA later said that the helicopter had been on scene within 40 minutes of being tasked, but Taylor told divEr: “It was 40 minutes once they tasked the helicopter – however, it took 50 minutes before

The new generation of Leonardo SAR helicopters – but are there enough to go round?


DIVER SUFFERING FROM decompression illness who was forced to wait between 70 and 90 minutes off the Dorset coast for a Coastguard helicopter to airlift him to hospital on 1 July later spoke out about the incident. Speaking to the Dorset Echo, Marcus Blatchford, 34, from Swindon, said that a death was “inevitable” following the closure of the Portland Search and Rescue (SAR) service. “Bring the helicopter back as soon as possible,” said Blatchford.“The water is a dangerous place and we need to have services like it. It seems absolutely mad. “I do think it is inevitable that someone will die because of the Portland helicopter not being there. It is a really chilling thought.” The incident occurred only one day after the controversial scrapping of the Portland rescue service, part of a Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) modernisation programme. The area is now said to be covered from Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire for emergencies east of Portland Bill, and Cardiff for incidents further west. The scrapped helicopter would have been expected to take less than 20 minutes to reach the victim, whereas the one that picked up Blatchford had to be tasked from 75 miles away in Wales. The Lee-on-Solent and Cornish helicopters were both on training exercises at the time, as was the one from Cardiff, which had to land to refuel before heading for Portland. Blatchford sustained a vestibular bend following a 60m dive on the WW2 destroyer HMS Delight from the charter-boat Skin Deep, 20 miles off Portland Bill. He had completed his decompression stops according to plan, but told the paper: “When I got back on the dive-boat I had a dry cough, and after about 10 minutes I wasn’t feeling too great and really wanted to heave. “I was given some oxygen and the skipper called it in. He called the Coastguard on channel 16. I was fully conscious but very unwell and had chest pains and was breathing very shallow breaths.” In the aftermath of the eventual airlift he said that he had collapsed on

the helicopter was tasked! “Apart from anything else, who in their right mind would cancel a rescue service during the summer season?” he said.“The Coastguard had been on TV the day before saying that it wouldn’t make a difference, but the very next day it clearly did. I’ve been working here for 21 years and we’ve never had to wait anything like 90 minutes for a helicopter.” The Portland SAR service, operated by CHC Helicopters, started in 1995 and covered the busy area from western Hampshire to south Wales. The MCA says that its new national system of 10 civilian-run bases, replacing a combination of military and civilian arrangements, is capable of operating in all conditions and can carry out rescues anywhere in the UK.


OLLOWING THE PORTLAND incident, South Dorset MP Richard Drax wrote to the Department of Transport, which is responsible for SAR operations, requesting a “major rethink” on the Portland closure. “The irony of this happening a day after the Portland helicopter was removed is overwhelming,” he wrote. “We fought for years to retain our helicopter, ultimately unsuccessfully. “We said 25% of all call-outs happen in our waters and that helicopters from elsewhere would not arrive in time. Regrettably, our fears are now being borne out. Thank God, the diver survived this time.” Minister of State for Transport Legislation & Maritime John Hayes responded by disputing the claims of a 90-minute wait for the helicopter – he stated that according to the incident log it took 68 minutes from the initial call. He said that the South coast continued to be “very well served” by SAR helicopters. “I am disappointed, though unsurprised by this response,” Drax told the Dorset Echo.“As a result of the loss of the Portland helicopter, there will continue to be a capability gap at the centre of the busiest SAR area in the country… no matter how new and fast a helicopter is, it cannot be in two places at once. "The diving incident, which occasioned the letter to the Minister, was, I fear, a harbinger of things to come, though I sincerely hope not.” n

News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:12 Page 9


THE BIG QUESTION Bugs can ruin a dive-trip ”Do you become hyper-sensitive about the risk of catching a cold or other infection in the run-up to a dive-trip?” Our Editor does – you’ll find him packing down the concentrated Vit C for at least a week before any trip, and turning off all ventilation blasts into his ears on the plane. We asked about you, and it seems that 59% of you share the Editor’s cautious approach. Missing dives is unthinkable – there’s a lot at stake!

YES ”Sensitive to it but not overly so.” Robert Porter

DIVER DIES ON SCOTTISH QUARRY NIGHT-DIVE A DIVER DIED AFTER going missing on a night-dive in Preston Hill Quarry in Fife on 9 July. The body of Kelda Henderson, 36, a drama teacher from Edinburgh, was recovered from the water the following morning by Police Scotland’s Dive & Marine Unit, and the exact cause of her death was under investigation. Friends had raised the alarm soon after 10pm when the woman failed to surface. Police divers with the help of

lights from a helicopter searched the water and were joined by Scottish Fire & Rescue Service teams, but they were stood down 30 minutes after midnight. Two teenagers have died in the quarry in the past three years in nondiving-related incidents that caused it to be fenced off, with warning signs erected and police patrols, but the site has remained popular with scubadivers. Maximum depth is 11m. n

Golfball-diver has had enough after ‘gator attack A GOLFBALLRETRIEVAL diver in Florida had one arm badly mauled when he startled a 3m alligator under water. The incident occurred on 7 July at the Rotonda Golf & Country Club in Englewood. Scott Lahodik, 51, from Jacksonville, had been contracted to recover lost balls from a lake on one of the courses. “He just came and, full blast, grabbed my arm all the way back in his throat,” Lahodik told Tampa TV station Fox 13. “He rolled a couple times and then he still didn’t let go, so I knew I had to do something.” The animal let go when the diver started aiming punches towards its eye. Lahodik was able

“I try to avoid anyone with a cold and have First Defence on standby.” Andrew Roberts “I avoid crowds if at all possible just before a trip.” Carol “For weeks before a trip I will avoid anyone with the merest of sniffles!” Dave Barber “Yes! I actively encourage sick people to work from home for the good of all their colleagues and, of course, my dive-trip!” Faye Wilde “I don't have many dive trips a year, they cost a fair amount of money and lodging is not much of a spectator sport. Stuck on a liveaboard and not diving is a form of torture.” Kate Marler “Always, even though I know I'm dive-fit every sniff or cough becomes a drama.” Frank Connor “Yes, but I still caught the bug my wife had, and missed the dives.” Mark Lovett “I avoid anyone who I suspect of having a bug!” Ian Ford “We had a lunch party some years ago in March and I had to tell guests that I ‘had a cold’ to prevent them all from greeting me with kisses!” Jane Bell “Undoubtedly. There’s little worse than having a great dive lined up and not being able to do it – or being able to do it but uncomfortably and compromised.” Patrick Boyle “It's one of the four things we divers have no control over – the weather the tides, the vis and our health. ” Mike McLaren

NO ”I don't get hyper-sensitive but if I feel a tickle coming on I'll make sure I eat more fruit and veg to increase my vitamin intake to ensure I'll be OK.” Gordon Kaye “While I don't get hyper-sensitive to the risk I do carefully consider my current health before every dive. If I don’t feel that I'm well enough, I don’t go in.” David Tillotson “You can’t generally cheat nature – if a cold's going to happen then it's going to happen.” Dave Keany “Surprisingly no, but I am super-sensitive paranoid about what I have for breakfast prior to a morning dive, so as to not to get caught short 25m below.” Mark Howell to make it out of the lake, drive his golf-buggy to the clubhouse and get help. He underwent surgery at a hospital in Fort Myers, while the alligator was caught by officials, reportedly taking half an hour to land. Lahodik had been a professional golfball diver for almost 30 years, but after his traumatic experience said he doubted whether he would feel able to resume his career. n

“I had a really nasty ear infection after Scapa Flow a few years back. I now just clear my ears out better when showering post dive.” Julian Hull “I can't control what infections I may be exposed to or whether or not I catch whatever I might come into contact with – and things like colds tend to be at their most infectious when the sufferer has no symptoms anyway, so I can't worry about it!” Richard Boutcher “It makes no difference – you either will or will not get a cold.” Steve Taylor

Go to to answer…

THE NEXT BIG QUESTION Have you ever experienced the effects of a severe downcurrent or upcurrent on a dive? Please answer yes or no, and feel free to elaborate



News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 03/08/2017 09:32 Page 10


Steve Slater dies on Andrea Doria W


Steve Slater.

ELL-KNOWN BRITISH TECHNICAL wreck-diver Steve Slater, 46, from Gateshead, died following a dive on the deep-lying Andrea Doria shipwreck off the eastern USA. The incident occurred at the site 60 miles off Nantucket on 24 July. Slater was part of a group of around 10 divers who had travelled overnight from Montauk, New York aboard the charter-boat Ol’ Salty II. The divers had to wait for conditions to calm before diving. Slater was using a rebreather. According to the US Coast Guard, he was pulled unconscious from the sea by crew, who administered oxygen and CPR for two hours. A Coast Guard helicopter arrived on the scene but as Slater had not responded it was decided to leave him on the boat, which had set off back to Montauk as soon as all the divers had been recovered. The vessel docked on Tuesday morning and Slater was formally pronounced dead, cause to be

determined. A police spokesman said that the possibility of an equipment malfunction was being investigated. Slater, a past contributor to divEr, is the 13th diver known to have died while exploring the Andrea Doria, an Italian liner that sank in 1956. Its depth ranges from 50-75m. Mark Dixon of the Darkstar deep wreck-diving team remembers his friend: “I met Steve Slater in 2008, when we were rivals in our search for HMS Nottingham. My last lead had come to nothing, so I rang him: ‘Look, Steve, we’ve drawn a blank, you’ve got a mark, we’ve got a boat, why don’t we get together?’ Steve was cagey, but agreed to give it a go. “That started a whirlwind of nine years, Yes, we did important dives, notably the Empress of Britain (165m), Arabic (115m), Hirano Maru (97m) and a brilliant trip to dive HMS Invincible on the centenary of its sinking at Jutland in 2016. “It wasn’t just about the diving. Steve’s generosity of spirit, his self-

deprecating sense of humour and Geordie stoicism made him the cornerstone of our Darkstar team. “Steve started diving with BSAC Tyneside 114 in 1989 and a love affair with wreck-diving began. In the early 2000s he and his team pioneered many deep wrecks in the ‘Graveyard’ some 30 miles off his native Newcastle upon Tyne. Continuing exploration with Darkstar, Steve identified more than 50 wrecks off the Northumbrian coast, often due to his meticulous research. “We played hard; epic voyages in UK waters, late-night drinking, plotting and scheming about our next trip. Steve had a tough exterior but beneath that he was kind and thoughtful towards others – in short, a great man and an inspiration to many in our community. “Now he has gone, taken away from us in an instant, future plans wiped away. We will miss you so much, kidda, but the memories you have left will stay with us forever. RIP Steve.” n

Student divers suffer suspected CO poisoning The shop was closed while official investigations were carried out, but it posted on its website:“Air Fill Recall – If you have any unused gas fills (Air, Nitrox or Trimix) from Aqualogistics, please do not use them and please return them to us for checking.” “Detectives are investigating the incident with the Health & Safety Executive, and have been working with Public Health England to ensure that there is no wider risk to the public or diving community,“ said Greater Manchester Police. “The possibility that CO was present in airtanks is being investigated. We are determined to find out how and why this incident happened.” Dr Martin Boulton, High Master at

the school, stated that initially two of the boys became “very unwell” during the training, carried out as part of an activities-week programme. “The emergency services were called and the two boys were immediately taken to hospital by ambulance for treatment. Several of the other boys later felt unwell and were also taken to hospital for treatment.” The other students were checked at the hospital as a precaution, said Dr Boulton. The HSE asked any diver who had had a cylinder filled by Aqualogistics not to breathe the gas, and said: “If you feel you may be affected then please contact for further advice on how to proceed.” n

Swimming-pool at Manchester Grammar School.

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CARBON-MONOXIDE poisoning from scuba air-cylinders was suspected as 12 schoolboys from Manchester Grammar School in Fallowfield were taken to hospital on the afternoon of 26 June. Students were taken ill during scuba training being carried out in the school’s pool by external instructors. A school nurse administered oxygen to one 14-year-old, who was later said to be in a stable condition in hospital. The other 11 students were examined and discharged. The air-cylinders were supplied by Aqualogistics Dive Training Centre of Stockport, which describes itself as one of the North-west’s premier scuba-diving training centres.

News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:12 Page 11

Suunto recalls computer air-integration units DIVE-COMPUTER manufacturer Suunto has identified a potential safety risk with all its Wireless Tank Pressure Transmitters and Tank PODs, which transmit air-pressure data to compatible Suunto computers – and is now recalling units for free inspection and upgrading. In two reported incidents, the exterior case of a transmitter failed during routine dry-land pressuretesting. Suunto says that although such failures are “extremely rare“, they represents a potential risk of injury

should the case burst. The transmitters have been sold since 2003, and the PODs since 2013. All divers who own these items are requested to stop using them and take them to an authorised Suunto dive dealer or service centre – a list is available on the maker’s website. Apologising for the inconvenience, Suunto says that along with the inspection it will replace the battery free of charge and also apply a free one-year warranty from the date of inspection for all upgraded products.

Recalled: the two versions of Suunto’s Wireless Tank Pressure Transmitter and the Tank POD.

The recall applies to model SS019098000 and SS005397000 Wireless Tank Pressure Transmitters, which have a black cone-shaped plastic case with “SUUNTO, FINLAND” printed on the top. The older model has a black plastic base, while the newer model’s plastic base is transparent and contains an LED light. About 8cm long and 4cm in diameter, the units are compatible with the Suunto D4i, D4i Novo, D6i, D6i Novo, D9, D9tx, DX, Vytec, Vytec DS, Vyper Novo, HelO2 and Vyper Air computers. The Suunto Tank POD, model SS020306000, has a black coneshaped plastic case with “SUUNTO TANK POD, MADE IN FINLAND” printed in grey and a transparent plastic base. Its dimensions are the same as those of the transmitters and it is compatible with the EON Steel computer. It may be possible to have your unit collected from your home or workplace. More information on the recall is available at n

400-year-old sharks ‘living time-capsules’ THE GREENLAND SHARK’S extreme lifespan means that it should be given special conservation status, says a geneticist who has been sequencing the DNA of the world's longest-living vertebrate. Professor Kim Praebel of UIT the Arctic University of Norway has told an audience of marine scientists at the University of Exeter that he believes the genes of the sharks, known to live for 400 years or more, could hold the secret to long life for other vertebrates – including humans. Prof Praebel’s team has been studying DNA taken from shark-fins during tagging operations as part of the “Old and Cold” project, which also involves researchers from Denmark, Greenland, the USA and China. The scientists have now sequenced the full mitochondrial DNA data of almost 100 Greenland sharks, but need to isolate the “long-life” genes that could explain what dictates the life-expectancy of different species. The Greenland shark is found in deep North-Atlantic waters, including those off northern Britain, and is part of the 110-million-year-old sleeper shark family. The oldest shark studied so far has been a 5m female reckoned to be 392 years old (plus or minus 120 years, or between 512 and 272 years old). “Since the Greenland shark lives for


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Luxury Liveaboards Do Greenland sharks hold the key to long life in humans? hundreds of years, they also have enough time to migrate over long distances, and our genetic results showed exactly that,” said Prof Praebel.“Most of the individuals in our study were genetically similar to individuals caught thousands of kilometres away.” It was thought possible that mating occurred in deep Arctic fjords, he said. With sharks alive today that predate the Industrial Revolution, Prof Praebel described them as “living time-capsules”, and said that their tissues, bones and genetic data could help to measure the impact of climate change, industrial pollution and

commercial fishing on their populations and on the oceans. Meanwhile another set of scientists have noted that Greenland sharks have an unusually slow heart-rate – with just a single beat every 10 seconds. The observation came during a recent tagging expedition to Greenland led by Prof John Fleng Steffensen of the University of Copenhagen aboard the Sanna research vessel. divEr first reported on the current collaborative Greenland shark research programme last year (Shark Had Lived Since Tudor/Stuart Days, August. n



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News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:12 Page 12



Man jailed for firsttime diver’s lake death T

Royal Navy called in

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The ring holding the compressor at Peterstone Lakes.

Club near Cardiff on 11 February – although with his arm in plaster, the employer could not have provided acceptable surface cover. This was one of 16 breaches of regulations identified in a subsequent Health & Safety Executive investigation – including the fact that neither man had any dive training or qualifications, there had been no risk assessment or project plan and no checks of what had been substandard equipment. Diving for his first time, Pugh descended into murky water no more than 2.5m deep equipped with a mask, weightbelt and air supplied through a garden hose connected to a compressor held in a rubber ring at the surface. He had been under Jailed: Dale Pike water for some time before Pike realised that all was not well, and the emergency services were called. It was 70 minutes since his descent before a South Wales Fire & Rescue Service dive-team was able to locate him, feet upwards and weighed down by his belt and a bag containing some 340 golfballs. He was pronounced dead at hospital. “Dale Pike stood by and watched as Gareth entered the water, knowing that safety regulations were being breached,� said Iwan Jenkins of the Crown Prosecution Service.“His deceit and callousness resulted in Gareth losing his life. “There was clear evidence that Pike had made enquiries with legitimate dive-operators to cost this activity but he chose not to use them, instead falsely claiming to the golf club that he was a qualified commercial diver with his own equipment.� Pike pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter by gross negligence. Judge Keith Thomas told him that he had ignored the risks "because it would eat into your profits�. n

HE OWNER OF A WELSH online company that sold golfballs retrieved from lakes has been jailed for 32 months for manslaughter, following the diving death of an employee. To meet Diving at Work regulations in retrieving the balls, Dale Pike's company Boss Golf Balls should have employed a commercial dive-team, at a cost of around ÂŁ1250 a day, Cardiff Crown Court was told. Instead Pike told Gareth Pugh, a 29-year-old acquaintance described as having learning difficulties, that he would pay him ÂŁ20-40 a day to carry out the work. Pike, 26, was the only other person present when Pugh drowned in a lake at Peterstone Lakes Golf

THE ROYAL NAVY was called in to help in an extended search for a scuba-diver who had gone missing off the eastern Scottish coast near Dunbar 11 days previously, on 8 July. Willie Peace, 59, from Glenrothes, a diver with some 30 years' experience, failed to resurface after diving a WW1 U-boat wreck three miles off the coast. The Coastguard had alerted police in late afternoon, and both the Dunbar all-weather and inshore lifeboats were launched. A search and rescue helicopter and a boat searched in the vicinity of the wreck until nightfall. The Navy was asked to work with the Coastguard and tidal movement experts. n



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TIGER SHARKS FOUND in the IndoPacific are not static local populations – instead they roam over great distances to form a single large population, according to new research published by the University of Queensland in Australia. DNA sampling of the species at seven widespread locations revealed few genetic differences from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, according to marine biologist Dr Bonnie Holmes. “We analysed samples from the Indian Ocean off Western Australia, in multiple locations in the Western Pacific and as far away as Hawaii in the Central Pacific,” she says. The samples were obtained during tagging operations. The Pacific and Indian Oceans account for about half of all the water on the Earth’s surface, and the study contradicts previous claims that there is, for example, a distinct Hawaiian tiger-shark population. However, genetic differentiation beyond the Indo-Pacific region was noted when the samples were compared to those from Brazil in the western Atlantic. Dr Holmes said that the study

Indo-Pacific tiger sharks get around highlighted the need for international co-operation to ensure that fishing of large migratory sharks was sustainable. “In Australia these sharks have a higher level of protection than when they move into international waters, where they are often targeted for their large fins,” she said. “There needs to be co-operation between international authorities to ensure that there are adequate no-

take zones within our oceans.” However, she added that the tiger shark’s long-haul migratory behaviour might be helpful in maintaining its genetic diversity. “For instance, there is evidence of migrating sharks from both the east and west coasts of Australia moving into Northern Territorial waters,” said Dr Holmes. Dr Holmes said that the Molecular Fisheries Laboratory at the university’s

School of Biomedical Sciences would continue to investigate migratory sharks, using a new method to extract DNA from the jaws of tiger and white sharks held in museums and trophy collections, even those dating back to the 19th century. The study Population Structure and Connectivity of Tiger Sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) across the IndoPacific Ocean Basin is published in The Royal Society journal Open Science. n

DIVERS RETRIEVE 100M GHOST-NET IN CORNWALL VOLUNTEER-DIVERS were releasing baby lobsters off Rosemullion headland in Falmouth Bay, Cornwall for the National Lobster Hatchery in late June when they came across a huge fishing-net on the reef. The first group of divers, led by Mark Milburn of Atlantic Scuba, had released their half of the 700 lobsters and were continuing their dive by exploring the reef when they found the net. Standing 4-5m off the seabed and stretching more than 100m across the reef, it had trapped dozens of spider and brown crabs and lobsters – some of which the divers were able to release. They left an SMB in place and, once back on their boat, dropped a buoyed anchor to mark the spot. When the divers told passing local fisherman Tim Bailey about the net, he offered to recover it using the mechanical hauler on his boat, as this would be safer than the divers trying to do it themselves. The second group descended the anchorline, released the rest of the juvenile lobsters and then tied the anchor to the rope of the net. Four other divers went aboard Bailey’s boat to help him drag the net aboard, a process that took more than half an hour in rough sea conditions. Back in harbour, other fishermen helped Bailey to dispose of the net. “How many creatures it has caught and killed will never be known, but it won’t be able to kill any more,” said Milburn. n

The divers who found the net help fisherman Tim Bailey to retrieve it.

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Divers were able to free some of the trapped crustaceans.


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News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:12 Page 14


Meet the ‘verminous’ ocean population of 2099 IAN SKIPWORTH

get explosions, and the only way to keep those down is by reducing the overfishing of those important predatory species, and that’s a big issue,” he said. “We hear so many stories about how we are emptying the oceans but

A common triplefin, a small fish that could thrive in high-acid seas. common species disappeared. Project leader Professor Ivan Nagelkerken said that at the same time acidification was transforming eco-systems from kelp to low grassy turf. This was making it more difficult to sustain intermediate predators that had traditionally helped to keep weedy species under control. “On land we would refer to weedy species like cockroaches, mice and ants,” he said. “Under water you see the same thing – a lot of species are very sensitive and attached to one specific type of habitat, while other species are very adaptable in what they eat and how they use their habitats.” Prof Nagelkerten said that

although total numbers of fish could increase with ocean acidification, local biodiversity would be lost. The study had concentrated on small fish at the lower level of the food web, and he now plans to test the findings on larger fish species on which humans depend for protein. Acidification effects combined with overfishing of many predatory species was likely to have a double impact on ocean biodiversity, said Prof Nagelkerten. “If we take out the predatory fish that feed on these weedy species you


MORE GRIM NEWS for divers of the future: ocean acidification will reduce fish diversity significantly, with small “weedy” species – the equivalent of what are regarded as “vermin” on land – dominating marine environments, according to the Environment Institute at South Australia's University of Adelaide. Scientists have studied the impact of climate change on the oceans for several decades, but most previous experiments have focused on individual species in the laboratory rather than entire eco-systems in a natural setting. The researchers spent three years studying species interactions at underwater volcanic vents in New Zealand, where carbon dioxide concentrations match those predicted for oceans at the end of the 21st century. They then compared these with species interactions in adjacent marine environments with current CO2 levels. In the high-CO2 environments one or two species of the smaller, behaviourally dominant fish thrived – while the less-aggressive and less-

now we are showing another effect – if you remove those predatory species there is even more danger from climate-change. "So there is an interaction there between overfishing and the impacts from climate change and that’s pretty new – it hasn’t been identified in other studies.” The report Species Interactions Drive Fish Biodiversity Loss in a High-CO2 World is published in Current Biology. n

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News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:12 Page 15


Swordfish plane wreck found in 60m off Malta T

HE WRECK OF AN intact Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber from 1943 has been discovered at a depth of 60m, three miles off Sliema in the north-east of Malta. Surviving Swordfish are rare, and the remains of the British biplane were found as part of a three-year survey project that involves the University of Malta collaborating with US educational bodies Harvey Mudd College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Initially using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), low-

frequency sonar-scans on 19 June suggested the presence of the wings and tail section of an aircraft and the shadow of a propeller. This was confirmed three days later by high-frequency scans and video footage. On 29 June archaeologist Dr Timmy Gambin from the University of Malta dived the site and was able to confirm that the object was a bomber documented as having crashed in the area during WW2. Its intact condition suggested that

Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bombers photographed in 1943. the landing had been controlled, as reported at the time. The Fleet Air Arm aircraft was understood to have taken off from RAF Hal Far in 1943, and ditched at sea after developing engine trouble. Its pilot and co-pilot were rescued by two British soldiers on leave who

were sailing in the area at the time. Dr Gambin told Malta TV that the site could become a diving attraction. “Our long-term plan is to include sites such as this in itineraries for divers who go diving around Malta and who are interested in historical wrecks,” he said. n

…as human remains tracked down on WW2 bomber in Croatia A TEAM OF UNDERWATER archaeologists diving near the Croatian island of Vis in the Adriatic on a month-long expedition have found the remains of US airmen in the wreckage of a WW2 Douglas B-24 Liberator bomber. Nicknamed the Tulsamerican, the aircraft was the last B-24 to be built in Tulsa, Oklahoma by Douglas. Flying on what had been expected to be its final mission in 1944, it ran into German planes and was severely damaged in the subsequent battle. The pilot had tried to make an emergency landing but crashed into the sea. Seven of the 10 aircrew were rescued, and the three missing men had been believed to have been thrown clear. The wreck was found by divers in 2010, resting in two sections in around 40m, but it is only now that it has been examined forensically as

part of an expedition coordinated by the US Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency, dedicated to bringing home remains of service personnel missing in action. Human bones were found along with remains of a life-jacket, boot and military equipment. The remains were to undergo DNA analysis to match them to the missing airmen, and later be returned to the USA for burial. Diver Brendan Foley told Live Science that the violent impact of the crash had badly damaged the bomber’s nose section, which was “almost peeled open like a banana”, but that internal features including the seats remained recognisable. “It was incredibly emotional for all of us,” said Foley, whose team usually works on ancient archaeological sites, such as the 2100-year-old Antikythera wreck in the Greek islands.

A USAF B-24 Liberator releases its bomb-load over Germany in 1945. “We’re all still trying to get our heads around what we just experienced … this is the most worthwhile thing we've ever done under water.” divEr reported recently on an

aircraft discovery by an MIA team of divers (MIA Team Finds Bomber off PNG, August). The full story of the recent expedition to trace remains of the US aircrew off Vis will be featured in divEr next month. n

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Irish freediver dies at Dahab’s Blue Hole site IRISH FREEDIVER Stephen Keenan, co-owner of the Egyptian dive-centre Dahab Freedivers, has died while acting as a safety diver at the local Blue Hole site. Keenan, 39 and from Dublin, had been a freediver for eight years, working in the Philippines and Spain as well as Egypt, and had set Irish national records. An AIDA Instructor Trainer and PADI and SSI Freediving Instructor, he was an experienced support diver, having held supervisory roles at

international events including Vertical Blue and the World Depth Championships. Keenan was reported to have provided assistance to Italian freediver Alessia Zecchini after she became disorientated while attempting to dive the arch, which is more than 25m from side to side and lies at a depth of almost 60m. She made it to safety but Keenan apparently suffered a black-out before reaching the surface. n


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The Blue Hole arch at Dahab.




News SEPT copy1.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:12 Page 16



tropics, with anemones growing on the tree stumps and attracting turtles, octopuses, eels, crabs, sharks and abundant fish of many species. Now researchers using radiocarbon-dating techniques on timber samples recovered by divers from the site have been amazed to find that the trees date from an Ice Age some 60,000 years ago. The unique underwater forest lying 10 miles off the Alabama coast has been described as a “prehistoric time-


EPORTS OF FISH gathering in large numbers were what first led diver Chas Broughton to investigate an 18m-deep seabed site in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011. The US dive-centre owner found what appeared to be a vast submerged forest of cypress trees, complete with bark, growing around an ancient riverbed. The site, in the largely barren Mobile Bay, has since been described as the equivalent of a coral reef in the

Attempting to lift an entire tree-stump in one piece.



capsule” by the scientists from Louisiana State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. They believe that it can provide new insights into climate development and the forms of life that existed in prehistoric times. At a time when the land was widely covered by ice-sheets and sea-levels were far lower than today's, the forest would have been set in a valley many miles inland. It is likely that the trees were buried suddenly by a catastrophic event such as flooding, and preserved by being encased in oxygen-light swamp-type sediment. When tree samples were brought up by divers, the researchers noted that they still contained freshsmelling resinous sap.


OCEAN SUNFISH sightings are reported around the British Isles from time to time, but if you reckoned that your best chance of diving with the world’s largest bony fish would require a trip to the Far East, you might just get lucky closer to home. It turns out that Mola mola can be found in Irish waters year round – and in far higher numbers than was previously thought. The new insights come from scientists at University College Cork’s School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Science and the MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy, collaborating with researchers in Spain and the Netherlands. It’s known that ocean sunfish grow as long as 3m and can weigh up to a tonne, but their migratory patterns have remained relatively mysterious. They were known to visit Irish offshore waters in summer to feed off jellyfish blooms, but it was long presumed that they would move south to warmer waters in autumn.

The ancient forest acts like a coral reef in attracting marine life.

Sunfish stick around off Ireland The team carried out year-long aerial surveys of Irish offshore waters, flying more than 10,500 miles in summer and winter and extending almost 200 miles into the Atlantic. The ObSERVE Aerial project was said to be the first comprehensive offshore survey effort in good weather during winter.

The researchers’ findings confounded the previous belief that sunfish were relatively rare visitors, as it was estimated that at least 12,700 could be found offshore in summer – with a minimum of 8200 remaining even in winter. “Because sunfish spend upwards of 80% of their time below the

The submerged forest was probably partially exposed in 2004, because it lay directly in the path of the devastating Hurricane Ivan. Analysis of the sediment in which it lies revealed a metre of sand, with a metre of sandy clay below that, and beyond that peat. The discovery and continuing scientific investigation has now been documented in a half-hour film called The Underwater Forest. It was directed by Ben Raines, an environmental journalist who has pursued the story from the first reports in 2011 and has carried out many dives at the site. He is hoping to have the area declared a National Marine Sanctuary. Raines' film can be viewed on YouTube. n

surface where we can’t see them, both summer and winter estimates represent minimum estimates,” said lead author of the study Dr Patricia Breen. “The data we have collected will be important to determine the numbers and distribution of many protected marine species during the winter period.” The study identified several key areas of high sunfish density, thought to reflect jellyfish distribution, and estimated that the sunfish consumed around 2600 tonnes of jellyfish a day to maintain their great bulk. “This makes sunfish an incredibly important part of the marine ecosystem,” said marine ecologist and team-member Dr Mark Jessopp. “They are likely to play a largely unrecognised but important role in controlling large jellyfish blooms.” New Insights into Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) Abundance and Seasonal Distribution in the Northeast Atlantic is published in Scientific Reports and can be read at n


Fish-magnet that proved to be Ice Age forest

DIVER Awards Sept v2.qxp_DIVER grid 31/07/2017 12:11 Page 17



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celebrate their 20th anniversary this year, and normally we’d wait until New Year’s Eve to gather in the last of your votes for the most deserving product and service providers in the diving industry. But to mark this milestone – one that underlines the prestigious nature of these annual accolades – divEr has decided to shift the goalposts – with, we hope, your approval and your assistance. By asking you to vote for your 2017 nominees between now and the end of September, we will be able to present the Awards in public at the Dive Show of the Year – that’s DIVE 2017 at the NEC in Birmingham in late October. The results will be showcased in divEr as before, but not until later in the year, which means that the winners announced at the Show will not have been pre-publicised.

And then we’ll repeat the process at the same time in 2018! So please have a deep think about those people in the business, at home and abroad, who make your diving special. We’re talking about those who design, build and supply our dive gear, arrange our dive-trips, provide our training, operate the liveaboards and open up their countries’ best dive-sites to us. This is all about recognising and rewarding the high-quality products and services that make us happier and safer as divers, and providing an incentive for suppliers to aim ever-higher. To participate, please visit www.divernet. com. It doesn’t take a moment to nominate your favourites – you know the names! You have until midnight on 30 September to submit your nominations, but why not just go ahead and do it now?



Beaver Sports (Pro-Flex Gloves) – 12_14_Beaver Sports 21/10/2014 11:57 Page 1

Beachcomber SEPT.qxp_Beachcomber 27/07/2017 09:40 Page 19


OUT SOON ON DVD… The Hollywood “blockbuster” 47 Metres Down has just about been and gone from cinemas by now, but it will soon be available to own on DVD and Blu-Ray, so you can watch it again and again. The plot is simple. Two young women go cage-diving to see sharks. Inevitably, they choose the world’s dodgiest dive-school, run by a man who makes Cap’n Jack Sparrow seem well-adjusted. As soon as they’re in the water the line holding their cage breaks and they plummet to the seabed,

Scuba bondage The Sun has always had a slightly naughty reputation, so even if Page 3 is a thing of the past it wasn’t a surprise to find it asking sexperts for their naughtiest romps. So far, so Super Soaraway Sun, but Durex’s sexpert Alix Fox capped the lot. She and her partner, an enthusiast for shibari, the Japanese art of tying people up (I’m not making this up, I promise) hired a pool, she dressed up as a mermaid, they submerged on scuba apparatus, he tied her up and then took her scuba-set away. She called it the most crazy extreme sexual thing she’d ever done and said she had been completely dependent on him for her next breath. A dominant’s and submissive’s ultimate fantasy in fact. Yeah, right. Doesn’t sound a lot different to me from the old days when divers would buddy-breathe on a single regulator. Two breaths and hand it back was the rule, but like as not they’d hang on for three. Or four. Or until your eyes were bulging out, but I don’t remember it ever being at all arousing, even if we were dressed in rubber.

47m down. Fortunately they’re on scuba sets, so they have gas to breathe, and despite the diveschool being so run-down that it can’t even afford a decent piece of string to hang the cage from, they’re equipped with full-face masks with comms equipment so they can talk to one another. Ignoring the physics of gas consumption, but with lots of chat about the bends, the tension ratchets up unbearably until the girls are rescued. But – SPOILER ALERT! – the rescue turns out to be

recent total solar eclipse from below the surface. Cool idea. And just to show that it hasn’t entirely lost the PADI plot, it had written a Solar Eclipse speciality certification course that its customers will almost certainly never use again, but still won’t mind paying for because it’s such a unique idea.

Toiling in the weed Fancy a job scuba-diving? Yeah, me too, but now the dream can become a reality, if you’re willing to relocate to Minnesota, from where I recently saw an advert headed “Work Outside Scuba Diving in the Lake! No Experience Necessary!” It sounded perfect, so I clicked on the ad and discovered that they were looking for enthusiastic people willing to work in teams of two to six divers clearing weed from the lake. So far, so good, and all you need to apply is a love of the outdoors, a positive mental

just a narcosis-induced dream and the movie hasn’t yet delivered its final, climactic scene… Which I won’t share, obviously.

attitude and the ability to carry bags filled with 35kg of weeds. They’ll even help with your scuba certification if you’re not already qualified. Can’t say fairer than that.

Only human Do you remember the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan? Now a remotely operated vehicle has been into the flooded core of the reactor and spotted lumps of melted nuclear fuel. I assume that they had to use the ROV because the place is too radioactive for human divers, but here’s a tip if they need to do a second survey. Hang a sign outside that says “Danger, No Diving”, and you’ll be hip-deep in weekend scuba-warriors willing to take the risk to prove you wrong before the paint’s dry.

Monetise the sun A long time ago I did a night-dive in the southern Red Sea. The full moon was high in the sky, and my companion and I swam on our backs at a depth of around 5m, entranced by the magnificence of the night sky. It was almost unbearably romantic, and I’d swear I could almost hear the angels singing. If only my companion hadn’t been a hairy dive-guide, the evening would have been perfect. I thought about that when I read about PennyRoyal Scuba Centre’s plan to watch a

Shelling out Scuba instructor Tyler Hart was leading a novice on a dive when they saw a turtle. Swimming closer, Tyler realised that something was wrong when the turtle didn’t have it away on its fins and just lay on the bottom. Then he saw the plastic bag in its mouth. Resting one hand on

the shell, Tyler grabbed the bag in the other and tugged. Nothing doing. So he pulled again, and suddenly he had a bag full of a tenner’s worth of small change in his hand, and the turtle was heading to the surface to breathe. Animal saved and profit achieved. Double whammy!

I don’t want to spoil it for you. It sounds perfect for a club social, especially if the club is going warmwater diving.

Asking for trouble The Earth is, famously, covered two-thirds in water. So if you needed to build a new warehouse the obvious place to build it is under water, right? True, there are problems to overcome, which is probably why nobody has tried it in the past, but Amazon has said it will do it in the future. Well, maybe. The full plan is way more astonishing than the concept, but it does show a sound grasp of the physics of diving, even if it is daft. The thinking is that goods are stored in packages that can be simply tipped from the backs of trucks or dropped by parachute from aircraft into the underwater warehouse, but the packages have their buoyancy so finely calculated that they’ll come to rest at set depths. Sort of like on shelves in a normal warehouse, only under water. Then, when you want a specific item, you ping it with an acoustic signal that causes an inbuilt compressed air canister to vent, filling a balloon and sending it to the surface, from where it can be scooped up by a robot or a drone or, as a last resort, a human being, and dispatched to the buyer. Amazon says it could store stuff in almost any body of water that’s deep enough, and who am I to disagree? All I will say is that you don’t often see much brass on wrecks that are visited by divers, and leave it at that. Now, where did I leave the pry-bar and bolt-cutters?

Helpful tips Seen on a travel blog: “Freediving Spots to Take Your Breath Away”. I do hope not. And seen on TripAdvisor: “Best Place to Dive for a Nervous Scuba Diver (Qualified)?” Er, the bath? Just don’t put too much water in.



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Gods Pocket.qxp_DIVER grid 27/07/2017 09:52 Page 21


GOD’S POCKET This coldwater Pacific classic can create dilemmas for photographers, says MARK B HATTER, torn between tiny rockfish and huge ‘GPOs’ in British Columbia


HY WOULD ANYONE haul 150 pounds of equipment someplace to go diving?” the Facebook post read. “Here is why!” the post continued, followed by several gorgeous wideangle images of centimetre-long yellow fish streaming up the face of a vertical wall by the hundreds. The images were posted by my diving buddy Ron Watkins, and could have come from some tropical reef had it not been for the oddly competing colours in the images. I knew better – I had been with Ron when he captured the shots. The streaming fish were not anthias, those ubiquitous schoolers of reefs in the Indo-Pacific, but juvenile rockfish, a coldwater species that often schools. And, as they ascended a wall carpeted with bone-white short plumose anemones, the contrasting colours between the fish, anemones and an emerald-green backdrop of cold water betrayed the marine environment of Canada’s Pacific North-west coast. Ron and I had just returned from four special days’ diving at the God’s Pocket Marine Provincial Park in Queen Charlotte Strait, about an hour’s boat-ride north-east of Port Hardy, Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Getting there had had its complications. With our heavy kit assembled to comfortably dive waters hovering around 8°C, we exceeded the weight limits of the uber-small commuter ☛

Pictured: Afternoon dive in the bay at God’s Pocket.



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flight from Vancouver International Airport to Port Hardy. Ultimately, we had to accept the non-refundable ticket cost, hired a car and drove up from Vancouver, making the boat with minutes to spare. On greeting our fellowdivers at the pier we learned that no one flies – everyone drives. Ask any Canadian or US diver comfortable in a drysuit, and they will tell you that God’s Pocket is the best coldwater diving in North America. Ron and I can testify that the biodiversity surrounding God’s Pocket must be the coldwater equivalent of Raja Ampat in the Coral Triangle. Indeed, dive-sites offering vertical walls, pinnacles, rockpiles, kelp-beds and more proved vexing for our trip’s photographers – having to choose between wide-angle or macro at every site became an agonising decision. You can’t go wrong in the end, because every site offers opportunities for both perspectives. Alas, some great shots will be missed with one rig but then excellent ones will be captured with the other. I selected macro for the dive on which Ron captured his schooling rockfish, yet nailed some nice blackeye goby images with my macro lens.

Finally, God’s Pocket Home base for diving this remote region is the picture-postcard God’s Pocket Dive Resort, nestled on a bluff high above the tide-line in a tiny bay on Hurst



Above: God’s Pocket Dive Resort.

Below: Kitting up on the jetty. Bottom: An eagle fishing –and making off with its prey.

Island, and aptly named God’s Pocket. Owner-operators Annie Ceschi and Bill Weeks have been running a firstclass and safety-conscious diving operation there since 1998. And, though remote, the resort staff includes a topshelf chef who can humbly explain to a culinary dullard like me the nuance between gravy (which contains beef stock) and a double-reduced sauce

(which has no beef stock). In short, the food was so good that I may have said that if my wife could cook as well as chef Oliver, I’d travel less! Our trip leader for the four-day expedition was local resident and God’s Pocket “frequent flyer” Jackie Hildering. A marine biologist, teacher and ecoethicist with incredible knowledge of the Pacific North-west’s eco-systems, Jackie hosts two or three trips a year to God’s Pocket, and is always eager to share her deep and diverse knowledge of the region with rookies like Ron and me. Because we knew virtually nothing about the local wildlife, we played charades with Jackie after most dives in an attempt to ID things new to us. Jackie was amazing and adroitly reduced our base descriptions of organisms to genus and species within a few questions. The Pacific North-west is well-known for 5m tides and strong currents. It takes the decades of experience of captains such as Bill to know when and where to place divers to give them a safe but exhilarating experience. Bill was blunt with our group in the trip’s pre-briefing: “When I say the boat leaves the dock at 07:35, be on the boat ready to go or I will leave you on the dock.”

Time and Tides There was good reason for his curtness – dive times at every location are dictated by tides, currents and weather conditions. To maximise bottom-time coupled with dive safety, all of these variables need to be considered simultaneously, resulting in a London Underground-like timetable. With hundreds of islands and dozens of passages surrounding the greater God’s Pocket region, there is always a site where the tide and current are slacking, ready to change direction and prime to dive. Finally, we’re ready to get wet and Bill takes us to a shallow, sheltered bay, allowing the group to tune weights, adjust cameras and acclimatise to the 8° water on an initial check-out. At the end of the dive, we tell Bill that we’re comfortable and dialled in. Bill agrees, and is satisfied that we’re ready for some serious diving.

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Fantasy Under a smooth sea with a modest groundswell we steam to an underwater pinnacle named Fantasy. It’s well-known for the wolf-eels that live in cracks and crevices at around 20m. As most of the wolf-eels are too large for macro, Ron and I select wide-angle set-ups, and are not disappointed. The visibility is good for the site, perhaps 15m, but the light level at depth is low beneath an overcast sky, contributing to an otherworldly shade of intense emerald in the nutrient-rich water. I follow Ron to the bottom and take to shooting him as he is shooting closefocus, wide-angle subjects with his minidome rig. The dive is mesmerising, with rocks, walls and tables along the base of the pinnacle carpeted with seemingly millions of ghostly white short plumose anemones. Then, like giant sentinels among the

smaller, uniform short plumose minions, a few giant plumose anemones extend themselves, like living watchtowers above their smaller cousins. Anemones abound, and so do the seastars. I count at least five species in the first 10 minutes on the bottom. At the edge of the anemone fields, the open bottom is populated with slatecoloured mussels the size of my fist. A few unlucky ones are under assault by muscular seastars, their thick arms applying a constant pull that will eventually fatigue the mollusc and lead to its demise. Real estate is at a premium on Fantasy, and every inch of surface is occupied by something vibrantly alive. By now we are deep into our bottomtime, and I have completely forgotten the wolf-eels, even though they are among

Top: Diver with a giant plumose anemone at the Fantasy site. Above left: Ron finds a mottled seastar eating a mussel Above right: A female wolf-eel.

the most iconic animals found in coldwater diving. I have just signalled to Ron my intention to work up the slope when, above a rubble pile of empty mussel-shells, I find a female wolf-eel jutting out from her lair. She lingers just long enough for me to snap a couple of quick frames before retreating back into her recess. Back on the boat, our group is animated by the discoveries of the dive. Everyone other than Ron and me knows their animals, it seems, and we’re leaning on Jackie for identification support, woefully lacking the basic skills required to describe the new animals that we have encountered. ☛



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Left: Anemones in bull-kelp forest at Hussar Point West. Above: Brooding anemone on bull kelp.

Below from top: Painted greenling; hermit crab on kelp stipe; scalyhead sculpin.

One of the divers asks if anyone has found a “GPO” – aka giant Pacific octopus – on the dive. The GPO is another iconic coldwater animal, and encounters are treasured. While the cephalopod eluded our group, everyone got their wolf-eel images. During our extended surface interval awaiting the tide change at our next dive site, 7-Tree, Jackie spots more than a dozen bald eagles, mixed with gulls and diving ducks, diving-bombing a Pacific herring school in the middle of the passage. Bill slowly motors closer, careful not to interrupt the feeding birds, while Jackie explains the interactive biology we were witnessing. The impressive experience is yet another reminder of how remote and pristine this slice of British Columbia remains.

Subtle Impacts Looks can be deceiving. There are assaults underway in this region, more global than local. In the past few years multi-armed sunflower stars, seemingly once as plentiful as the plumose anemones, have suffered an alarming, fatal infection known as wasting disease.



Anecdotal evidence suggests that climate-change may well be a stressor to the sunflower stars, making them much more susceptible to this affliction, The Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the USA and Canada has seen water temperatures rise in recent years, and certain animals may not adapt well to even minor environmental changes. We saw few sunflower stars in our four days of diving, and most of those we did see were juveniles. Had it not been for Jackie’s cautious if not sobering lessons on the subtle fragility of this eco-system, it would have gone unnoticed by a newcomer like me. At least for now, however, and despite the global climate-change ramifications, the eco-system appears to be quite diverse and vibrant.

Something for Later Soon, the tide is right for slipping back into the chilly water at 7-Tree. Here, Ron gets his schooling rockfish, and I shoot what Jackie later tells me are brooding anemones anchored on the stipes of bull kelp anchored on the top off the reef. A few days later, at Hussar Point West, another offshore pinnacle, I make an

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amazing find – brooding anemone colonies at 13m hosting on the bull-kelp stipes in the dense macro algae forest. I find a crack in the bottom, lock myself in with a few fingers and adjust my buoyancy, careful not to disturb any benthic animals. I then spend half my dive shooting away in the forest, swaying with the palm

tree-like kelp in the rhythmic oceanic swell washing over the reef. I’m thinking that Jackie would approve of my minimalist impact, working with the surge, not against it, while leaving no footprint. I surface content, with a warm sense of accomplishment. Back on board, Bill tells us excitedly that a humpback whale cruised by in the channel while we were on the bottom. Ron looks at me with a smile and says: “Wow, all we need now is a GPO!” “You didn’t see it?” one of the other diver’s exclaims. “See what?” asks Ron.

Top left: Orange cup coral. Above left: Yin and Yang diamondback nudibranchs. Above: China rockfish and quillback rockfish.

Left: Meal-time at the resort. Below: God’s Pocket, Hurst Island.

“The GPO. A big one, on the bottom, with all its arms tucked in,” the diver says. “We shot some video – I was sure that everyone had had a chance to see it.” Sometimes things like this are providential. At least, that’s the way I like to think about missing an encounter such as the schooling rockfish or the GPO. It means that Ron and I have unfinished business at God’s Pocket. Important business that necessitates a return trip. And Jackie is cool with that. “There is a long waiting-list for repeat guests on my hosted trips,” she tells us. “But you guys are genuinely passionate about your photography and fun guys to dive with. You’ve earned spots high up on my invitation list.” Thank you Jackie, we accept!


GETTING THERE8 Many airlines offer daily flights from London Heathrow to Vancouver, British Columbia. You will need to rent a car for the drive to Port Hardy. DIVING & ACCOMMODATION 8 God’s Pocket Dive Resort offers three boat-dives daily and evening/night-dives off its dock in the bay at the resort, and full-board that includes everything but alcohol (buyable in Port Hardy). Nitrox is available for an extra fee, WHEN TO GO8 March through October. MONEY8 Canadian dollar. US dollars are accepted but you lose on the exchange rate so credit cards are preferable. HEALTH8 Nearest recompression chamber is in Vancouver. PRICES8 Return flights from the UK start at around £800. Weekly car-hire costs around £200. Four days’ diving with full-board costs around £1600. VISITOR INFORMATION8



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UMPBACK WHALES HAVE long been pursued by humans, but the motives for this hunting have changed significantly. Once sought for food, fuel and raw materials, the whale is now more often a target for inquisitive tourists than a deadly harpoon. For us aquatic animal-lovers, the whale is a creature to be revered. In February 1805 the 400-ton sailing vessel Port-au-Prince cast off from the UK with the primary intention of attacking and capturing enemy ships, specifically those of the Spanish and the French. Armed to the teeth, the ship carried the “letter of marque” that permitted privateering, a legalised form of piracy. Should Port-au-Prince fail to meet and plunder any ships, its secondary objective was to hunt whales for valuable oil. The youngest of the crew was a 14-year-old ship's clerk named William Mariner. After two years of fighting, Port-auPrince mistakenly ended up in Tonga, with a juicy booty of weaponry and gold ore on board. Aching from her adventures and leaking somewhat, she anchored up close to the shores of Lefooga (Lifuka).


ONGAN CHIEF FINAU appeared to be welcoming at first. Hailing the ship with an offer of barbecued hogs, it seemed that Finau was living up to Captain James Cook’s description of the Tongans and Tonga as the Friendly Islands. Despite the crew’s protests, Captain Brown decided to trust Chief Finau. The next day, however, Captain Brown was beaten and left to die naked on the sand. Finau’s tribe then murdered all but a handful of the sailors and stripped the boat of weapons, believing it would make his the strongest Tongan tribe. Legend tells that much of the bounty went down with the ship, and that gold, silver, candlesticks, crucifixes and chalices supposedly still lie on the seabed.

Tonga is a place of myths and traditions, and until 1978 whales were welcomed there only as food. Now things have taken a very different turn, as JENNY STOCK, only slightly hampered by her wetsuit, relates

One of the few survivors was young William Mariner, who was spared because Chief Finau had taken a shine to him. He was kept on Vava’u for four years and adopted the name Toki Ukamea (Iron Axe) before being “rescued” and taken back to the UK. Presumably he’d had enough adventures by then, because he became an accountant. I received a more genuine welcome to the Tongan island of Vava’u last October than Finau had offered; perhaps because I had no intention of killing whales, and the only capturing I would be doing was of images on my camera. The season starts in July, when the heavily pregnant female humpbacks arrive to give birth. They stay in the warmwater nursery in Tonga until the calves are big enough to make the trip to Antarctica. Whale gestation is 11 months, so the location is also the mating ground for the next season’s calves. Early in the season, it’s possible to see the heat runs, where male humpbacks chase the females at full pelt while singing at volume level 11. My first interaction with the humpbacks set the bar for the week. After seeing a breaching whale from a distance we powered closer in the hope that it would settle. Luckily it did, and our group slipped into the water. A maximum of four people and a ☛



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guide are allowed to snorkel with the huge beasts at any one time. I approached the jaw-droppingly magnificent physique of a relaxed mother, and the closer I got the more discernible she became, until I could make out individual barnacles on her nose. Within minutes of our arrival her playful baby came into view and began looping around us. This overly amorous calf seemed to be curious. Our guide Sione began rolling in the water and, incredibly, the calf mimicked this behaviour straight back. Sione explained that this was an older calf, one that had grown more accustomed to people. This is one advantage of arriving later in the season – chilled-out whales. Photographically, my favourite moment would come with my final whale encounter. I had captured some striking images but didn’t feel I had a unique shot yet. Currently I have an obsession with reflection shots, so when the sea surface settled to a flat calm I excitedly kitted up and perched on the side of the boat, clutching my 5D tightly and expecting this to be my opportunity. At this instant the smooth, almost milky ocean surface became mirror-like. All I needed now was a whale.


UCK HAS ITS PART to play in wildlife photography, and at this moment the Tangaloa, or Tongan gods, smiled down on me, as a whale announced its presence with a flap of its powerful tail. Knowing that my opportunity could be



Back on the boat, triumphant from my hunt, I reviewed my captures. My favourite depicts am arching humpback whale crashing down through the surface while being reflected serenely in the glassy ripples. This image is even more striking when displayed upside-down! If that encounter sounds appealing, you too might want to meet the giants under water. How about while scubadiving? This isn’t possible everywhere in the world, but it is legal to dive with humpback whales in Tonga. However, you’ll find that locating the whales is a game of cat and mouse, and because the process of kitting-up with tanks slows down your entry, there are fewer chances of close-up interactions. It is also believed that bubbles disturb some whales, so they tend to keep a safe distance. Liveaboards also operate in the area, and if I returned I would combine the diving and the snorkelling with praying to the Tangaloa for more of their generosity. But sticking to the snorkel I saw each day, on average, three mothers with their calves. On slow days we would return via Mariner’s

fleeting, I threw myself into the water and kicked as hard as my legs would allow, shortening the distance between the humpback and me and my camera. I had a battle on my hands. My fear of the cold means that I wear a 7mm wetsuit even in the hottest of climes. Those extra delicious millimetres of insulation unfortunately result in a rather overly buoyant me, and it can be a fight to get through the water (I know, I need to toughen up). Regardless, I managed to get close enough to enjoy the glorious sight of both the whale and its reflection. The humpback and its mirror image combined is a gargantuan and glorious vista, truly a moving moment for me. I rapidly fired off a few shots, but the experience was all too brief. I wanted to enjoy the moment for longer, but the whale had other plans and, with a wave of a pectoral fin, it was gone…

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Cave, located on a tiny island half an hour from Vava’u. Yes, the Tongans named this cave after the ship’s clerk, and later accountant, William. Here you needed to freedive 3m down and 2m forward to penetrate the cave (not so easy if you're wearing your trusty 7mm). This would be a fabulous location to take your scuba-gear, and it’s worth the diversion from the whale encounters to view the hundreds of fish that school in the entrance. These shimmering beauties make for a glistening backdrop to the modelling shots that are often taken at this site. Flying from the main island of Tongatapu to the small island of Vava’u kept me off the main tourist trail, which suited me perfectly. But if you do the same,

expect to be weighed on a giant set of scales with all your luggage before boarding the tiny plane. Vava’u was exceptional. I was invited to feasts and enticed to social events in which the locals harmonised around a guitar while supping from huge washbowls of kava. This drink is made ☛

Pictured: In the whale nursery. Right from top: In the glassy ripples – the strange inversion effect; close-up of a humpback’s eye; aerial view of Vava’u.



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from ground-down roots of indigenous plants, and is said to have sedative, euphoric and entheogenic properties. It looks and tastes like muddy soup. Kava is a legal high in Vava’u and I sampled its delights at the weekly gathering in the local police station. It was at this assembly that I asked a local about Mariner’s Cave, and he recalled his version of an ancient Tongan legend. A Tongan king’s daughter fell in love with a poor man, but the king forbade their love. The couple ran away, dived into Mariner’s Cave and hid on the rocky sides of the internal hidden cavern. Weeks later a fisherman saw the poor man diving in and out of the cave, collecting provisions for his beloved. On being informed, the king demanded that the couple be pulled out of the cave and

Above: Whale of a mirror!

brought to him. He had them beheaded for their disobedience – more bloodshed in Tonga, then.


FTER A WEEK MADE memorable by beautiful whale interactions, I took my final ride to the airport. I chatted to my 53-year-old taxi-driver about Tonga and its relationship with the humpbacks. He told me that before the hunting ban introduced in 1978, any whale catch would be divided up among the community. The meat would last people several months. During the 1970s the government invested in the new technology of an industrial-size fridge. Tongans would buy a portion of whale, bag it, name it and put it in the huge chest. Folk would come back to town to collect their meat bag

when they were ready to feed their family. I asked the driver what whale tasted like. He replied that it was more delicious than steak, with a fantastic texture. He then started salivating and swallowing and, laughing, begged me to change the subject: “You’re making me hungry – I miss it so much!” he wailed. He described how in 2002 a container ship accidentally hit a humpback. The dead whale was brought to shore, where it was promptly divided between the locals. By the time government officials arrived, there wasn’t a morsel left, just people on the beach saying: “Whale? What whale?” It doesn’t matter how good humpbacks might taste – having looked one straight in the eye, I never want to eat one! I would love to swim with them again, however.


GETTING THERE8 Jenny flew from London Heathrow via New Zealand, as international flights to Tonga depart from Auckland (or Sydney). She flew on to Nuku’alofa on the main island of Tongatapu, then with Real Tonga Airlines to Vava’u. Note that RTA has a 20kg hold-baggage limit with 5kg for carry-on, and it may not always be possible to fly with excess. SNORKELLING & WHEN TO GO 8 Whales in the Wild operates from July to October and is already booked well ahead, ACCOMMODATION 8 Port Wine Guesthouse, open since the 1970s, contributed to local whale-protection guidelines and helped to establish educational programmes on sustainable whale-watching, MONEY8Tongan pa'anga. PRICES8Return fares from UK to Auckland from £750, onward from £220. Whales in the Wild organises packages from Auckland from NZ $1900 (around £1070) including flights, seven days’ twin-share accommodation and snorkelling. VISITOR



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AKE A DATE AND MEET UP with all your dive-buddies and buddies-to-be at the National Exhibition Centre in October. And should you need any other incentive, the latest Grand Prize Draw is a cracker, as you’ll see from the description on the page opposite.

NEW PRODUCT SHOWCASE Many suppliers of dive-gear – manufacturers, distributors and retailers – have already booked their stands and will be keen to show off their latest goodies. Get an idea of those you might want to examine up close at the New Products Showcase stand near the entrance (pictured above).

TEKDECK/TEKPOOL After its successful introduction at last year’s Show the TekDeck is back complete with its own TekPool, where experienced divers mingle with new

recruits to the technical-diving world, and where any diver who wants to find out if that world might be their way forward can do just that. Expect the sort of stimulating lineup of speakers that kept the TekDeck so busy last year, hand-picked by co-ordinator Mark Powell. The TekPool will be run by Lance Palmer Diving, which will be keen to encourage the trying-out of all sorts of dive-gear, including rebreathers, in the water over the weekend.

THE PHOTOZONE The big attraction in this part of the hall are Centre Stage presentations by experts who have already inspired the underwater image-making of countless past Show visitors. Many



It’s growing by the week – that’s the lineup of attractions for DIVE 2017, the Dive Show of the Year at the NEC over the 21/22 October weekend. Here’s the latest, with hall attractions first and, overleaf, the divers you’re going to meet others can offer one-to-one advice around the stands, as well as the opportunity to buy the right equipment for the job. And don’t forget to help out with the judging of the British Society of Underwater Photographers’ Print Competition.

AND MUCH MORE As usual the Try-Dive Pool welcomes newcomers to scuba, especially children, who will be safe in the care of experienced instructors. Wander round and you’ll come across travel-themed hotspots such as the Asia-Pacific Showcase, Caribbean Village and British Isles Experience, as well as zones set up by the main diver-training agencies. Browse, book, buy or just have a chat. And when you want to take the weight off your feet, head for the nearest presentation. You never know where that talk might lead you… ☛

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WORTH £7000!

divEr GROUP has been lucky enough to be able to offer some astonishing Grand Draw diving holidays to randomly selected Dive Show visitors over the years, but the 2017 prize is right up there with the very best. How does 17 days for two people in Indonesia, spending high-quality time at three of the Coral Triangle’s diving hotspots, grab you? Yes, that's what we thought when Bristol-based tour operator Dive Safari Asia came up with this outstanding prize, valued at £7000! Prepare for your mouth to water. If your name is picked at random from among those of visitors to DIVE 2017, you and a companion will find yourselves jetting off first to Scuba Seraya Resort on the island of Bali.

There you’ll spend five pleasurable nights and your days exploring reefs, walls, critter-sites and the celebrated wreck of the Liberty too. Then it’s on to the Komodo Resort for another five nights’ stay and plenty of time to experience the diving (and those famous dragons too) in Komodo National Park. And as if that wasn't enough, your tour concludes with a third set of five nights at Alami Alor on Alor Island,

famous for its underwater critters. If you’re an underwater photographer, your drives are liable to be overflowing with goodies! The upshot is that each of you will enjoy 24 dives, plus a half-day trek on Komodo Island and a half-day tour of beautiful Bali. Full-board will be provided by all the resorts, and there will be two extra B&B nights in Bali while you’re in transit. All international flights, internal transfers and connections are included. Your holiday can be booked for next year between 1 March and 5 June, or 15 September to 1 November because, as Dive Safari Asia says, these are among the best times to be diving in Indonesia. So as if DIVE 2017 didn’t offer enough attractions already, you now have a very pressing reason to be at the NEC – your name could be on those golden flight tickets!

Find out more about the three prize destinations at

Terms and conditions apply.



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HAT A LINE-UP OF GUESTS the divEr Group has assembled for DIVE 2017! As the event gets evercloser we’re able to bring you more about the speakers appearing and what they plan to talk about. Take the ever-popular star of stage and screen, Paul Rose (right). Not an easy man to pin down, because for much of his life he is trotting the globe, diving cherry-picked locations as Expedition Leader of NatGeo’s Pristine Seas programme. But he always aims to make it to the Dive Shows because he loves talking to divers, and you’ll find him on the divEr Stage discussing his recent expeditions to places like rarely dived Tristan da Cunha and Ascension. Paul will also stay on after his talk Saturday afternoon to present the 20th divEr Awards, the first time the industry’s most prestigious accolades have been given out at the NEC Dive Show. Find out who won through! Speakers will also appear on the Centre Stage in the PhotoZone area, on the TekDeck and in the Ocean Theatre (details next month) and make impromptu appearances around the hall. But star Centre Stage billing must go to Britain’s two most illustrious underwater photographers, Alex Mustard and Martin Edge.

Appearing together on Saturday, their unmissable presentation is called Unseen Images. You’ll be seeing photos for the first time, with the focus on experimental photography – or, as Alex puts it “how we play with ideas, make steps forward and backward on the way to creating exciting new work”. Another British lens-master is Paul Colley, whose talk will be Underwater Photography Competitions: Help or Hindrance? His conclusions may surprise you, but whether you love or hate photo contests, he’ll have



plenty of advice on how to advance your own photographic abilities. Paul has been doing a lot of work in fresh water recently, but a diver who made his name in rivers and lakes is Jack Perks, who first wrote about river-diving in divEr five years ago and has since made many TV appearances as a freshwater specialist and wrote Freshwater Fishes of Britain. Guess what his topic is – with the emphasis on unsalted photography. Still on inland diving, on the 50th anniversary of the loss of the Bluebird speedboat in a 328mph crash Sal Cartwright recalls the dives that took place to recover the craft – which is now finally working again – from Coniston Water in the Lake District. Elsewhere in this issue you may have read the excerpt from Martyn Farr’s book The Darkness Beckons about Australia’s Olwolgin caves. First published in the 1980s, by which time the intrepid Welsh cave-diver had already made a name for himself, the book became a cave-diving bible, but

it has only now been rewritten for the 21st century. Martyn will discuss the exciting developments in cavediving that made this update necessary. Revisiting from the USA after making a deep impression at DIVE 2016, underwater forensic investigator and rescue/ recovery instructor Andrea Zaferes can be expected to fascinate again with accounts of her varied experiences. Look up her CV – it’s impressive reading! As usual an eminent assembly of divers who between them know all there is to know about marine life will be gathered at the NEC. They don’t come more eminent than Dr Keith Hiscock, and in Fabulous and Fascinating: Celebrating Britain's Hidden World he looks at how scuba has uncovered so many of the secrets of our shallow seas in the past 50 years. Marine biologists and photojournalists Nick & Caroline

Robertson-Brown discuss wideangle photography and how it can tell a story to the viewer. In The Bigger Picture they share photos of marinelife encounters and discuss the interactions and getting the shots. Another marine biologist who applies his knowledge to his photography is

seahorse specialist Richard Smith. His topic is How to Capture Reef-Life Au Naturel – nothing to do with nudis, it’s about taking pictures with minimum disruption to the wildlife subjects. Shane Wasik too has a biology background – in recent years he has been dedicated to enabling divers to interact with basking sharks in Scotland – and that’s his theme. Technical instructor and agent provocateur Mark Powell will be busy organising the TekDeck technical-diving speaker lineup, but takes time out to address the pressing question: Diving Instructors: Can We Do Better? It won’t be the first time Mark has confronted an audience with a controversial question and gone on to provide a full and compelling answer. Marcus Greatwood is another man without whom a Dive Show can hardly be described as complete, and his NoTanx freediving team has been carrying out more extremelocation breathhold expeditions, mainly in Britain – he’ll take us through them. From the above, you’ll see that DIVE 2017 presents many arguments for UK diving, but should doubts linger, drop in on Roz Lunn’s What’s Wrong with British Diving? “Black, silty, cold and boring” are charges she says she often hears levelled, but by divers who have never explored our home waters. Roz plans to take us on an underwater tour from 3m to 70m. And that’s just a taster – look out for many more names in divEr‘s Show Special edition next month. Admission costs £14.50 on the day – but only £9.50 (plus £1 booking fee) if you book ahead online. Children under 14 with an adult go free. Book your tickets now at

035_DIVER_0917.qxp_DIVER_2017 01/08/2017 09:56 Page 035

Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort & Spa

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Set in the world-famous Bunaken National Marine Park, Bunaken Oasis offers a truly luxurious diving experience Find out more at ➤ 12 exceptional cottages with modern indoor bathrooms, and sea-view balconies ➤ Enjoy a cocktail in our chill-out bar, before dining on gourmet cuisine ➤ Pamper yourself in our custom-built spa ➤ From water-makers to black water treatment, Oasis was designed to minimise any impact on the environment. Even our panoramic free-form infinity pool is filled with fresh water! ➤ The Oasis dive centre has been designed with the photographer in mind ➤ A full range of dive equipment from leading manufacturers is available for hire ➤ Our dive boats are second to none, with fresh water deck showers, toilets and, above all, space

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Be The Champ SEPT.qxp_Layout 1 27/07/2017 09:41 Page 36


In last month’s column on producing photos of contestwinning standard, ALEX MUSTARD looked at schools of fish. Tiny anthias can form less well-disciplined groups, but there are ways of tutoring them

‘We can shout ’boo!’ through our regulator, which makes all the anthias retreat, momentarily, to the reef’


MALL, ORANGE AND frequently found around coral heads, anthias are often under-appreciated by divers. Their downfall is probably that they are just too common on the reefs of the Indo-Pacific, especially in the Red Sea, where their numbers seem to reach their zenith. Indeed, the late underwater imagemaker and TV presenter Mike deGruy joked that it was the abundance of this colourful fish that was the reason for the naming of the “Red” Sea. The diversity of anthias species, like most other groups of reef animals, actually peaks in the Coral Triangle of South-east Asia. However, for me, in Asia anthias are too small and the mixture of colours and forms lessens their visual impact, in life and in photos. This means that they look most impressive away from the biodiversity hotbed, in places with brisk currents such as Fiji and the Red Sea. For me, it is Egypt where they reach their peak. The cool winters of the Red Sea mean that they grow more slowly but get bigger, and their orange hue looks particularly intense against the cobalt water. Although divers don’t get too excited about seeing anthias, underwater photographers certainly do. It is just one of many ways that we stand apart! Photographically, these are subjects that suit all our lenses. Go wide and we can capture the life they inject into scenes, whereas with a mid-range lens we can show dense throngs or small groups in formation. Or go for a long macro

STARTER TIP Just as with any schooling fish, neat formations of anthias make our pictures much more attractive. A current is our biggest friend here, as it will concentrate anthias on the upcurrent side of the coral head and line them up. The downside is that it makes photography much harder work!



lens and show off their individual beauty in portraits.


HE NAME ANTHIAS derives from the ancient Greek word for flower, and these fish certainly decorate any reef scene with bouquets of colour. The key to a stand-out wide-angle image is to frame a striking reef scene, with the anthias providing just one layer in the composition. A lick of current is essential, not only because it will puff up the soft corals, but also because it sorts out the fish. When there is no current, anthias emerge from a coral-head in all directions, milling about in a messy formation. When the current picks up, all the anthias are out and they are all concentrated on the upstream side of the coral-head, swimming in formation. Many photographers shun shooting scenery when the current makes it tough, not wanting to expend the energy or blow through their air quickly. This is a mistake. I rarely shoot Red Sea reef scenery unless there is a decent

Above: Head-on portraits show character; side-on reveal the colours of this endemic Red Sea anthias. Taken with a Nikon D4 and Sigma 150mm. Subal housing. Seacam strobes. 1/100th @ f/13, ISO 200.

current and I consider it a prudent investment of air if I end up making a shorter dive because I’ve emptied my cylinder more quickly. Anthias look their best in current, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve things by marshalling the troops. Often when the current is blowing anthias will billow out widely from a coral-head. In this case we should approach slightly from above, causing them to retreat towards the coral-head in a concentrated school, packing our frame with colour. We need to use a bit of common sense here, because the extent to which we can herd anthias depends on their mood. When they are out and feeding strongly they can be corralled easily, but when they’re milling about, pressurising them can cause them simply to cower near the corals or retreat away from the part of the reef we want to shoot. The next trick is to conduct them, a technique I’ve covered in this column before. Once all our settings are correct, we can shout “boo!” through our regulator, which makes all the anthias ☛

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Pictured: In wide-angle, anthias provide the icing for the composition, though we still need to find a scene that would be satisfying without them. Taken with a Nikon D4 and Sigma 15mm. Subal housing. Seacam strobes. 1/250th @ f/14, ISO 320.



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retreat, momentarily, to the reef. As they start to spread out again, it’s time to shoot, catching them in a perfect formation. The ruse works only once or twice, after which they’ll realise that we’re no threat and ignore us, so it’s important to be ready for that first opportunity.


HILE ANTHIAS are impressive en masse, we shouldn’t fail to appreciate them on an individual level, especially the males, which come in a variety of extravagant patterns, dependant on the species. Even if you’re not a photographer, it’s worth taking time to marvel at a single anthias. Spot a male and watch his perfectly coordinated stop-start dance, darting forward to pluck morsels from the plankton brought to the reef by currents. Anthias live in harems and from time to time the male will make a J-shaped dive in an attempt to impress his ladies. When shooting anthias portraits with a macro lens, it’s best to seek out weak currents, to make shooting and framing easiest. I also tend to take these pictures away from the most spectacular dive-sites and shooting portraits on training sites with shallow, isolated coral-heads. Here the fish will be accustomed to



MID-WATER TIP A good background is essential for anthias portraits. My preference is for a bright blue, which contrasts attractively with the orange, red, pink and purples of the fish and is easily achieved when photographing portraits in shallow water. Alternatively, the colourful fish look striking on a black background or can be photographed against out-of-focus but colourful soft coral or seafans.

Above: Zooms allow us to fill the frame with anthias. Taken with a Nikon D5 and Nikon 16-35mm. Subal housing. Seacam strobes. 1/80th @ f/20, ISO 800.

divers, and the shallow water gives bright blue backgrounds. Modern SLR cameras do a good job of tracking fish such as anthias with autofocus, although it still requires plenty of patience and stability to get the best images. Some other cameras will be able to track anthias easily, while some may struggle and it will be easier to shoot using fixed focus, which requires even more patience!

ADVANCED TIP Shoot anthias up a reef wall, where the background isn’t simply blue water, but is filled with the diminishing silhouettes of more and more distant fish. This camera-angle creates the feeling of a really fishy reef, although it does require some breathing control to keep our own bubbles out of shot.

If the species has attractive patterns, show it at least partly side-on, using an off-centre autofocus point to keep the eye of the fish sharply in focus. If there is a little current, it’s quite easy to shoot anthias coming straight at the camera. If you dedicate a dive to shooting them, you will almost certainly get an image or two with its mouth open gulping food, usually with its pectoral fins fanned out attractively at the same time. The final lens option is a zoom, somewhere in between macro and ultrawide-angle, which means wide-angle or standard mid-range zooms. These allow us to frame a smaller part of the scene, from a handful to a couple of dozen anthias. The trick is to use the zoom to frame as many fish as possible, while still keep a neat composition. Something that is harder than it sounds when every element in the frame is moving! Again, we want a decent lick of current to provide lined-up fish. If anthias are appreciated by photographers, they pay us back by teaching us the value of shooting the same subject with lenses of differing focal lengths. Such images have different perspectives and give our portfolio visual variety that is essential when presenting multiple images in a slideshow, gallery or book.

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BABY DIVER Father-to-be HENLEY SPIERS decided that he needed a better understanding of diving and pregnancy


N A LIVEABOARD IN THE RED SEA, I found out that Jade and I were expecting our first child. We knew that Jade would have to put scuba-diving on hold for nine months, but as time went on I wanted to better understand the research behind diving and pregnancy. Unlike many marine species (hello Mr Seahorse), the female does all of the heavy lifting when it comes to human pregnancy, and us males can only do our best to be supportive. On top of the physical burden, mothers-to-be are advised to give up scuba-diving during the gestation period – like most men I am eternally indebted to Jade for taking on both of these burdens! The vast majority of divers today are aware that you shouldn’t dive if pregnant, and all the training agencies now list pregnancy as a contraindication to scuba-diving that requires medical consultation. The risks to a foetus are the same we consider apply to ourselves when diving: decompression illness (DCI) and the effect of high oxygen partial pressure. What is unclear is a foetus’s susceptibility to these issues. It’s possible that if excessive bubbling occurred in the mumto-be, some of these bubbles would pass through the placenta into the foetus. Terrifyingly, it’s possible that harmful bubbles could occur in the womb without the mother showing any



signs of DCI. We are also unsure how a foetus will react to high doses of oxygen under pressure – either in a hyperbaric chamber or while diving. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, there are concerns that a diving illness could have severe consequences such as physical abnormalities, brain damage or even death for the foetus. Using pregnant women for testing is obviously not an ethically sound idea, so lack of data is the biggest barrier to us better understanding this issue. Sheep placenta has the closest resemblance to that of a human, and hyperbaric dive simulations have been conducted on pregnant ewes. These experiments uncovered excessive bubbling in both the ewe and its foetus and, when put through a series of extreme dive-profiles, foetal death occurred. There has also been hyperbaric testing of pregnant rats, which showed that if the rats did

contract DCI, there was a much higher likelihood of physical abnormalities in the foetus, even if the DCI was treated. On the other hand, when no DCI occurred, the foetus had the same chances of being born healthy as in cases in which the mother had not “dived”.

T Above: For peace of mind, it’s best to take a break from scuba diving while pregnant. Below: Snorkelling is the best way to get your water fix while pregnant. Right: Have you ever wondered about the research behind diving and pregnancy?

HE MOST RECENT STUDIES involving humans have used a retrospective survey format. In a 2006 article by scientists at the Plymouth hyperbaric chamber, the clearest finding was that more and more pregnant women were abstaining from diving. Their data also indicated that the rate of spontaneous abortions among women who had dived while pregnant was the same as the rate for the general UK population. In 2014, new research recommended that pregnant women avoid diving but, if a woman insisted, she should stick to a maximum depth of 18m, with a maximum dive-time of half that calculated by the US Navy Tables. Most recently, a 2016 paper provided the largest survey to date, interviewing more than 2000 women, 466 of whom dived while pregnant. As with previous research, no difference in miscarriage and premature birth rates was found between pregnant diving and non-diving women. However, a significantly higher rate of infant malformations were found among the women who had dived, the damage

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having occurred in the first trimester. The hardline recommendation was that all training organisations should change their regulations to require a negative pregnancy test before each scuba-diving session! In sum, there is no solid body of evidence that provides consistent and definite answers on the issue of diving while pregnant. We do, however, have indications that diving illnesses can have tragic results for a foetus. Bearing this uncertainty and worstcase scenario in mind, it’s clear that scuba-diving during pregnancy is not worth the risk. On top of that, no doctor in their right mind is going to sign you off for it!


F YOU HAVE ACCIDENTALLY dived in the early stages of pregnancy, you are not the first, and in all likelihood the foetus is fine. Cease all further diving, consult your doctor and request an early anatomy scan for reassurance. If you’re pregnant and craving the water, snorkelling while surfaceswimming is the best option. As for freediving, there is even less research available into breath-hold dives and pregnancy. The Ama pearl-divers of Japan are known to continue their work long into pregnancies, seemingly without ill-effect. However, we know that repetitive, deep freediving will cause nitrogen-loading and could lead to bubble formation, which in turn could be harmful to the foetus. Sleep apnea provides an interesting physiological parallel, with research among pregnant women suggesting that breath-holding can lead to more adverse pregnancy outcomes. Once your baby arrives, the recommendation for resuming scubadiving is pretty much the same as for all moderate to strenuous physical activity. After a vaginal birth, it’s suggested that you wait at least three weeks and ensure that postpartum vaginal discharge has ceased before full immersion. If you’ve had a Caesarian, the recovery is likely to take longer and you should avoid all heavy lifting while the stitches heal, at least six to eight weeks. Everyone is different; these are just guidelines. The final decision should be made in consultation with your doctor. As for breastfeeding after diving, it is perfectly safe because nitrogen does not accumulate in significant quantities in the breast milk. And so it would seem to be that for a scuba-diving mum-to-be, your first great sacrifice is to (temporarily) hang up your BC!

Y Jade gave birth to a daughter, Apolline Luna Spiers, in July.



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SUMBAWA It’s alway good to feel that you might be ahead of the pack – we often hear about Bali and Lombok on one hand, and Komodo and Flores on the other, but what lies in between? JOHN LIDDIARD finds out


FTER POINTING OUT A sizeable nudibranch with six clumps of bubblegum-pink broccoli growing from its back, dive-guide Semuel surfaces from the dive and tells us he has never seen that species before. Let’s put this into context. Semuel was one of the first Indonesians to train as a dive-guide in Lembeh. He has subsequently worked in all the locations on any diver’s Indonesian bucket-list. He is an expert at finding weird and wonderful macro critters. You could put him in the middle of the underwater equivalent of an empty concrete car-park, and he would find a loose chip with something small and

interesting underneath it to look at through a macro lens. And he has just seen a slug that is new to him. Just slugging along on the shallow sand. It was definitely new to the rest of us. Back ashore, I ask our Canadian host Eric McAskill, a self-confessed obsessive nudi-nut and not diving today. Eric has even published books about nudibranchs. I show him on my camera screen. “Allen’s Ceratosoma!” exclaims Eric. “It’s rare and number 3 on my want-to-see list.” I ask Eric about numbers 1 and 2, but don’t take notes. Those Latin names go in one ear and out the other. ☛

Above: Pink broccoli nudibranch – Allen’s Ceratosoma.



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I look up Allen’s Ceratosoma in Paul Humann’s book and it is “known from Indonesia and Philippines”. A bit of Googling and I discover that it is camouflaged to hide among soft coral, so sand is not its usual habitat. It is the only species of nudibranch with such long broccoli extensions. Discovered in Mindanao in 1993, it has since been reported in West Papua and Timor. This is likely the point at which a reader writes to the Editor and tells us that it can be seen all over the place in Wotsit Unpronounceable, and there are 13 similar varieties, but it’s new for me, new for Semuel, and the kind of sighting that makes a trip. That is one of the thrills I get from diving. To dive somewhere new and see something new, often of the macro variety. It doesn’t have to be exploring in the expedition sense, just somewhere that isn’t a mainstream destination, that has yet to feature in the magazines, and has the prospect of revealing creatures I haven’t seen before. When Sarah at Dive Worldwide had suggested Kalimaya Dive resort, I needed no convincing. Kalimaya is located on the east side of the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, the next island to the east from Bali and Lombok, and the next island to the west from Komodo. Definitely the right part of the world for unusual creatures.



What’s more, the small resort has been open only for a few months, is the only dive-resort on the eastern half of Sumbawa and the only dive-centre covering an area previously accessible only by liveaboard. The idea ticked all my boxes. The diving regime is to start the day with two guided boat-dives, then follow up with unlimited guide-yourself shoredives through the afternoon. In practice, this works out comfortably as a leisurely lunch and a single shore-dive mid-afternoon, with a night-dive for those so inclined.


HE HOUSE-REEF HOLDS MY interest easily throughout the trip. It’s a long-enough stretch to need three dives to cover it all. While there are forests of spiny coral on the reef-crest and some larger coral-heads on the slope, it’s a muck-dive rather than a site for big-scene wonder. Once I get to know it, the house-reef has the advantage of enabling me to plan a dive for specific subjects. If I have the wrong lens for a subject one day, I can return to the same area the next day more suitably equipped. A patch of plate corals is home to three ornate ghost pipefish, but they are a little large for my 105mm lens. A day later I am back with a 60mm lens, find the coral, find the fish, take a few

Above left to far right: Dive-guide Semuel – his wetsuit doubles as a sunhat; ornate ghost pipefish; paddleflap rhinopias reminiscent of actor Geoffrey Palmer; leaf scorpionfish; four-lobed porcelain crab on a sea-pen; Coleman shrimp on fire urchin.

photographs, then find another ornate ghost pipefish a couple of metres away. I have to count them all again to make sure that it really is number four in such a small area. Ironically it’s the first pictures, those taken with the “wrong” lens, that turn out better. I enjoy the simplicity of all the local dives. Depth is typically 10-15m and there is usually a small amount of current, but nothing that requires hard work. The standard aluminium 80 (11litre) cylinders last forever, even for an air-hog like me. The local sites are ideal for beginners and for macro photography, especially when you have an expert guide along to help spot the critters. Interesting wildlife abounds, though sometimes it can take a bit of work to find. Semuel can be relied on to locate a steady stream of creatures, but we all have our moments of discovery and share them with each other. Tiny fluffballs turn out to be nudibranchs that I can’t see properly except through a macro lens. In a field of grey elephant-ear sponges, what looks like a broken chunk turns out to be a sizeable paddleflap rhinopias. I point my lens, and it flaps towards me. I have to back off to fit it all into the picture, while thinking that the face resembles that of actor Geoffrey Palmer. As well as the rare and unusual, there

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are plenty of what regular travellers to this part of the world would label “the usual suspects” – various species of moray eel, anemonefish, cardinalfish, hawkfish and an unending supply of nudibranchs and crustaceans. I see my first spotted porcelain crab as soon as we descend on my first dive on the house-reef, tucked into its anemone home. There is something about porcelain crabs that makes them ever so cute, and they show up nicely against their typically green hosts. Many years ago I would have blown an entire film on this one subject, then spent the rest of the dive wishing that I hadn’t. Such musings have become a cliché of effectively unlimited digital photography.

plenty of fire-urchins for the critters to live on. I enjoy a couple of dives with endless striped zebra crabs, spotted Coleman shrimps and yellow Brook’s urchin shrimps. That isn’t to say that we see only those creatures. Other highlights of the dive are a leaf scorpionfish and at least two varieties of crinoid shrimp. I say “at least” because, even with photographs, it can be hard to be certain of just what we’re looking at among the feathered arms of their hosts.



EVERTHELESS, OVER THE TRIP I continue to take photographs of every porcelain crab we find, and eventually come across something even cuter. It’s a tiny anemonefish alongside it, smaller than the crab’s claw and not much larger than the tip of an anemone tentacle. Despite similarities dictated by geography and geology, each dive-site has its own character and range of inhabitants. At Snake Island the critters are the various crustaceans that inhabit fireurchins, or perhaps it’s just that there are

Below, from far left: cardinalfish; juvenile star puffer; mantis shrimp; Gardiner's banana nudibranch; a banded seasnake hunts through cracks in the reef.

EARL FARM, NAMED AFTER the farm further into the bay where we dive the headland, is the only local site I would note for larger scenery. The headland develops into a colourful coral wall from 5m to 12m, a nice bonus to the sheer volume of macro finds. Further afield, the diving changes from easy macro to big scenery, sometimes with quite stimulating currents – the kind of dive where some divers like to use current hooks, though I’m happy enough using the shape of the reef and back-eddies to pick my way along. The currents are hard to predict. In addition to the usual tides we have seasonal currents and the exchange of water between two oceans. On any one day it’s possible to guess the most likely time for the best diving conditions at

these sites, though never with any certainty. Heading south along the coast of Sumbawa and out into the Sape Strait, the plan is to dive Roger’s Wall. The washing machine that greets us is simply too turbulent, and instead we dive in the lee of Roger’s Island. A few days later and nearby at Kalimaya Canyon the current is easily manageable, as is the surge. The canyon is a cut all the way through the middle of a small island, just a few metres wide. It narrows and funnels into a tunnel before popping out as a shallow trench into the reef on the other side. That part of the dive is reminiscent of some of the spit-you-out tunnels at St Kilda. Once through the canyon the reef slopes around the end of the island and onto a pretty wall of table corals. I spend a good 10 minutes shadowing a sea-snake that’s snuffling among the rocks without a care in the world. A second dive nearby at J’s Dream involves ducking behind the lip of a wall as the current tries to push us off. Once safely hidden, the back-eddy keeps us in. Tucked into small caves and overhangs we find bamboo sharks and whitetip reef sharks. A larger whitetip is patrolling off the wall. This is a site reputed to be good for big fish, though we see no larger sharks or manta rays today. We get some distant manta sightings at Galley Rock off Gili Banta, an island about two-thirds of the way to Komodo. Our follow-on dive is at Lula’s Hat, presumably named after where Lula lost her hat. Water circulates in a large bay, pulling out nutrients and plankton, so it could be another good spot for manta rays. It turns into a pretty reef dive with a nice shoal of glassfish, but no mantas. A site that does live up to its ☛



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promise is Bubble Reef at the Sangeang volcano, one of the most active in Indonesia. It last erupted in 2014. As we approach, a puff of smoke rises from the crater. Then an old lava flow comes into view as a now-solid greybrown river that winds back from the beach and out of sight towards the peak.


UBBLE REEF IS OUR HOST Eric’s favourite location, especially for macro, so he takes time out from working at the resort to join us for the day. He gets to dive only every few days, because he’s busy supervising the building of a new villa and, more immediately, a jetty due to be completed within weeks. This will greatly simplify boarding the boat, and provide easy alltide access to the house-reef. Dives tend to start with a synchronised backward-roll out of the boat on the count “three, two, one, go!”. Eric has his own system and calls out “a bibbidi, a bobbidi, a boo!”, and we go on boo. It has more to do with Mr Garrison’s maths lesson in South Park than Walt Disney. Spurs of black sand with small outcrops of reef fan down from the shore, some trickling tiny bubbles escaping from the volcano. It’s the only dive on which we see a reticulated chromodoris nudibranch. I doubt if that is anything to do with the location, other than that it stands out nicely against the dark rocks. This background also contrasts well with some of the more regular creatures, such as the blue-spotted Kunie’s chromodoris nudibranch. Semuel calls me down to a gorgonian.



Top left: A pair of bamboo sharks rest nose-to-tail beneath an overhang. Top right: Algae octopus. Above left: Kunie’s chromodoris nudibranch. Above left: A reticulated chromodoris.

Right: Komodo dragon.

He has found a family of pygmy seahorses, now one of the staple critters for any trip to Indonesia. We are over the lip of a wall and towards the end of the dive. Having captured a few photographs I head shallower again to conserve air, but he calls me back to point out another creature I had swum past – a tiny algae octopus camouflaged among the crust of sponges and hydroids on the rock. It’s my last day, and we have a pair of dives at a long rock that looks like a buffalo from the side. With the current stirring up a washing machine again, we hug the flank and admire the big

scene, with shoals of fish and occasional whitetip reef sharks. The current turns, and we finish on a platform of reef beneath where the tail would be. Nice dives, but it’s the surface interval that makes my day. Today’s site was chosen because it’s close to Komodo. I could hardly travel all this way and go home without stopping by to see one of the famous dragons.


GETTING THERE8 John Liddiard flew with KLM via Amsterdam to Bali. After an overnight stop at Denpasar in Bali, Sumbawa is a short flight away with Lion Air. The ground transfer takes about two hours. To help avoid excess baggage on the long-haul flight, Kalimaya offers free kit-rental but it’s best booked in advance. DIVING & ACCOMMODATION 8Kalimaya Dive Resort, WHEN TO GO8 Any time. CURRENCY8 Indonesian rupiah (100,000 is about £5). PRICES8Booking through Dive Worldwide, flights, nine nights full board at Kalimaya with 16 boat-dives and unlimited shore-diving, transfers and overnight in Denpasar costs from £2895pp (two sharing), VISITOR

Dive Safari Asia (Indonesia FP) – 09_17.qxp_Full Page Bleed 19/07/2017 15:09 Page 1


Choose the destinations that offer the style of diving you love with our range of Asia based dive safaris. We’ve handpicked locations that can be seamlessly mixed and matched over a multi-centre trip. Create your own adventure in Indonesia, get in touch to start planning today.

01 Raja Ampat 02 Bali 03 Komodo 04 Alor 05 Sulawesi 06 East Indonesia

05 01



Papua Paradise Eco Resort

Raja Ampat Rich and healthy reefs are the order of the day in Raja Ampat. We love the abundance of soft corals in the southern regions whilst central areas boast big congregations of fish life and exhilarating diving. Topside the islands and beaches are simply stunning. Multi centre trip with 2,5

Alami Alor Resort

Alor New destination on the Indonesia scene, Alor is quickly becoming a top spot for the region. The island offers the best of both worlds with superb critter diving and pristine fringing reefs in near proximity. Time to escape the crowds at this off the beaten path location. Multi centre trip with 2,3



Scuba Seraya Resort

BALI Bali is a destination that has a lot to offer if you know where to look for it. Good quality muck diving can be found along the eastern coast, there’s the Liberty Wreck covered in soft corals also. Islands to the east offer good chances of mantas and beautiful reefs to match. Multi centre trip with 3,4,5

Siladen Resort

Komodo Resort

Komodo Head to Komodo for excellent chances of mantas, reef sharks and big fish. A top spot for reef lovers there’s an abundance of soft and hard corals to be found among the islands of this vast archipelago. A trip to see the legendary Komodo Dragons is highly recommended. Multi centre trip with 2,4

Amira Liveaboard

North Sulawesi With rich and healthy reefs ideally suited to all levels of experience North Sulawesi makes for a perfect gateway destination to diving in Indonesia. Bunaken Island offers a mix of healthy reefs and diverse critter life. Multi centre trip with 1,2

EAST INDONESIA Explore the remote islands of Indonesia by liveaboard to destinations like whaleshark hotspots Cenderawasih and Triton Bay. The Forgotten Islands offer virgin reefs and masses of marine life or opt for the beautiful regions of Komodo and Raja Ampat. Multi centre trip with 1,2,3

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30th ANNIVERSARY! 1987 - 2017


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N SCUBA-DIVING, as in every sphere of human activity, conventions arise over time that govern the behaviour of the participants. These may not necessarily be set in stone or legally required and enforced. Sometimes they just become established and generally accepted over time. Often they differ from country to country. This is part one of a three-part series that covers a variety of scuba-diving situations in which certain forms of etiquette exist. Not everyone will agree with my recommendations, and I’m sure the more experienced among you will have your own particular opinions and bugbears. But that’s all part of the fun.



TIPPING The issue of when to tip and how much to tip causes a great deal of anxiety, especially on dive-boats when there is a mix of nationalities on board. Although some dive operations try to establish a tipping convention and suggest that a certain percentage is “normal,” there is actually no established etiquette for tipping in the dive industry, just as there is no worldwide agreement on the culture of tipping. Some people tip heavily, some tip a little, some do not tip at all.


The convention is to look, don’t touch! This doesn’t apply only to big animals such as turtles, manta rays and whale sharks but to the smaller ones too. In fact, you could argue that the smaller the animal, the more vulnerable it is and the more reason to leave it alone. Some operators prohibit their divers from wearing gloves in an effort to discourage them from laying their hands on the reef and its occupants. There is much debate over whether a glove ban works, and it’s an issue that can arouse strong feelings. I believe that educating divers is more effective than imposing rules. I don’t think that most of the people who wear gloves do so because they want to interfere with the marine life. Gloves can make you feel more comfortable, or help to keep you warmer. Nor do I believe that someone who wants to disturb the animals is going to be dissuaded if they have to do it with bare hands. However, good etiquette also requires that if you want to dive with an operation, you abide by its rules. If a dive-centre has a no-gloves rule and you want to wear gloves, choose another dive-centre. But, whatever your preference, don’t touch the animals.

Most of us like to feel that we’re in the know about the accepted way of doing things – and nobody more so than divers. SIMON PRIDMORE has been looking at ‘doing the done thing’ No matter how attractive their lifestyle seems, dive-industry employees do work long hours and are not well-paid. So tips are much appreciated. Most dive operations do not add an automatic service charge to the bill. Like many restaurants, dive-operators often prefer that you place your tip in a gratuities box so that it can be shared out among everyone, including backroom staff such as technicians and office workers, who you probably won’t have met but who contributed just as much to the experience you enjoyed as the “front of house” staff such as divemasters and instructors. However, if your trip was enhanced

Above: A diver uses a metal rod to support himself so that he doesn’t touch the reef – or anything on it.

considerably by the performance of one or more specific individuals, then you should not feel at all awkward at giving them a personal gratuity. It’s then up to them if they choose to add it to the general tip pool or otherwise. Regarding how much to tip, the best advice I can give is this: don’t fret about doing the right thing or causing offence. Neither should you concern yourself about what others in your group are doing. Tips should be a personal decision. I usually advise those who ask me to tip dive-industry employees the sort of percentage they’d pay for good service at a restaurant back home, adding more if they feel the service was extraordinary. ☛



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HUNTING There are laws and seasons governing spearfishing and hunting for food in many places. Some are very strict, but others are surprisingly relaxed in these environmentally aware times. It is commonsense advice to make sure you know and abide by local laws. If no laws exist and you feel you have to shoot fish, then the least you can do is follow the established etiquette: 1 Be sporting; freedive instead of using scuba when you spear fish, and don’t spear them at night using an artificial light source. 2 Don’t use a speargun when other divers are nearby. 3 Don’t hunt in areas where fish are used to interacting with divers. 4 Don’t hunt in places where people feed fish to attract divers. 5 Take only what you can eat and eat everything you take.

LOST DIVE-GEAR It is an established convention that an item of dive-equipment found under water should be returned to its rightful owner. To benefit from this communityfriendly piece of etiquette, make sure to



Right: Tanks or cylinders? Honestly, does it matter? [We use both at divEr – occasionally, even bottles!]

Read more from Simon Pridmore in: Scuba Confidential – An Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Better Diver Scuba Professional – Insights into Sport Diver Training & Operations Scuba Fundamental – Start Diving the Right Way All are available on Amazon in a variety of formats.


tape your email address or phone number to anything you think you might drop in the ocean, such as your mask, camera, torch or dive-computer. If you come across something that someone has been lost, make every effort to locate the owner. After all, what goes around comes around!

In many areas of human interaction, a common bonding mechanism is the shared use of references, a code used by members of the group to identify each other and separate them from outsiders. In the military, this often manifests itself with the use of acronyms that are incomprehensible to the uninitiated. On the London criminal scene in the 19th century, the code they used to conceal their activities from policeinformers is now known as Cockney rhyming slang. In scuba-diving we’re often guilty of doing the same. We insist that “real” divers refer to fins rather than flippers and cylinders rather than tanks. But, does it really matter? These days the number of new people coming into our sport is shrinking. We need to focus on including prospective divers, rather than alienating them by sniggering superciliously when they use the wrong word. After all: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In the next part of this series I will look at more aspects of etiquette, including dive-boats, entry and exit and mask snot!

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The Maltese island of Gozo has provided many a UK diver with an early experience of diving overseas, but BRENDAN O'BRIEN had never tried it. Shortly after the collapse of one of its most iconic features, he popped over to find out what he’d been missing



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TANDING ON THE CLIFF with the Blue Hole below us, one of my fellow-divers looked out over the water and sighed. “This was one of my favourite spots,” he said. “You used to be able to look up at the arch from the base of the stack, it was beautiful… and now its gone.” The Azure Window, the 50m-high limestone arch made even more famous as a backdrop for the wedding of Daenarys Targaryen and Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, collapsed into the depths in March of this year. The Maltese Prime Minister described the event as “heartbreaking”. Looking at my fellowdiver, I could see that he felt the same. The Blue Hole that is the entry point for this dive opens into an underwater arch, which then leads to a large cave, sloping chimneys and drop-offs. But that could wait until later – the main attraction for this dive, what was left of the Azure Window, was just a fin away. We were on Gozo for three days of diving – a whirlwind familiarisation trip organised by the tourist board for general press. I had gone along hoping to take advantage of sampling all the top dives the island had to offer – and which I had not experienced before, never having visited the island. We were diving with Atlantis Divers, and dive-guide Denis clearly cared deeply about providing a high-quality diving experience. The Azure Window had always been on my “dives to do” list, and although I might have been too late to dive the base of its stack, looking at the white sheen of

Left, from top: Something is missing - the Azure Window was once the backdrop for the entry-point to the Blue Hole; what’s left of the Azure Window under water. Above: Entering the Mark of Zorro. Below: Octopus at the Inland Sea site.

its remains lying just beneath the surface gave me the feeling that I wouldn’t be disappointed in diving its remains. The blessing in the collapse of the Azure Window is that it didn’t break up into small boulders, but instead into massive sheets of rock 20-30m wide and tall. The top of the arch now lies on its side, with shrubs and plants still present on its weathered and pock-marked surface. The newly exposed rock tells a story of how Gozo was formed out of the meeting of two continents. Yellow lines break the brightness of the white limestone, which in the sun makes this look like no other site on the planet.

It’s like diving an off-piste ski-slope, as marine life has yet to colonise the surface of the new drop-offs, swimthroughs and tunnels. The contrast with the brown algae and weed that covers the rocks that have been there for millennia is notable. But how long will this effect last? Six months, a year, two? There is already a film of algae growing on the slopes of pristine white stone. This will always be a monumental site, but for now it has an extra layer of awesome.


N THE THEME of everything in Gozo being massive, a few hundred metres from the Azure Window (will they have to call it something else now?) is the Inland Sea, more of an inland lake actually, and a small one at that. But what sets this site apart is the giant entrance to a cave that leads out to the sea. As one of the lead divers in my group, I was well placed to get ahead and marvel at seeing divers framed against the light entering the cave through its enormous entrance. Once in the cave, you might think there would be little to see until you spill out into the open ocean. However, the lack of natural light means that there is space on the cavern walls for sponges and growth that would otherwise be strangled by the green and brown weed and algae that covers rocks exposed to the light. On closer inspection of the brightly coloured sponges I found some that appeared to move. These were in fact rock crabs, their camouflage being sponges cut and placed on their backs using a claw adapted for this purpose. To the touch they felt like sponges, which left the several octopuses we saw on this dive confused enough to leave them alone and feed on easier prey such as ☛



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Watersports and so much fun!


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GOZO DIVER meal, while next to one of them a hermit crab balanced on a ledge catching flotsam. This cave system can be disorientating, as one of my fellow-divers commented: “I had no idea where I was – I just followed the guide.” This would make an excellent introduction to a no-clearsurface dive but it wasn’t for everyone, as a few in our group found it difficult to achieve the necessary buoyancy control. As the Mark of Zorro had put some of our party off caves we voted to dive something easier, and the P31, the old patrol-boat sunk as an artificial reef off Comino Island, is just that. It’s just a big toy to play in, a safe place to explore with its cabins and holds accessible to divers and, of course, a superb place to take part in clichéd Titanic bow shots. It’s a fun dive, but not one I would put on my list of Gozo “must-do” dives.


whelks and hermit crabs. Cave-diving isn’t for everyone, but in Gozo they’re as safe as you can get before you have to start getting all technical. On the nearby island of Comino, the system known as the Mark of Zorro is a classic example. Shafts of light shear through holes in the ceiling of this labyrinth, inviting photographers to play with its creative dance. However, beyond this light-show are Comino’s main attraction – spirals of nudibranch eggs hanging from the walls, as well as the tiny creatures that laid them in stunning purple and white. In the cracks of the cave-walls we also found moray eels waiting for their next

UST-DO, HOWEVER, was what the Cathedral dive-site was. While the entrance to this cave revealed all that the Inland Sea and the Comino Caves offered, I wasn’t prepared for the moment at which, once in the cave, I looked back. The entrance is a vast circle of spectacular blue, but then I noticed the reflection of the entrance on the surface, even more spectacular. We ascended into the Cathedral’s vast dome, where the air is good to breathe thanks to a small fissure on the ocean side. The shimmer of light that creeps in through this hole is the added bonus of this dive. It makes the water glow an eerie turquoise when you splash it. Before we descended to leave, we spent a moment in the dome in silence. As I experienced the sound of misty breath and the hypnotic shloop sound as the swell hit the back wall, I reflected on what Gozo is about for divers. Awesome drop-offs, tunnels and caves the boulders of giants and, for an island that is deeply religious, a fitting ☛

Pictured: Shafts of light pour into Comino Cave. Above: Nudibranchs with their eggs. Right: Kitting up for Comino Caves.



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Why visit Gozo? The dives are challenging, though they can be deep and do require some experience. You wouldn’t go primarily for the marine life, and the topography is mostly green and brown. Everything is giant-size and the visibility is consistently good, as there’s no river run-off. And the island is very laid back – perfect for those who want to escape the built-up hustle of Malta. The Gozitans are very welcoming, and just about everyone speaks fluent English. Explore the island on foot, on a bike, quad-bike or hire-car – you’ll never be far away from the sea.


dive to end our trip. I’ve dived lots of sites called Cathedral across the world, but none can match this one. One word of caution: as most of Gozo’s dive-sites are accessible from the shore you might be tempted into thinking that access is easy, and for some of the beginner sites it is. However, for sites such as the Azure Window and Cathedral there are a lot of rocks and stairs you’ll need to manage. My fitness level is good, but I still found these sites an effort to get in and out of, and I also saw some divers really struggle. Be fit! As this was a press-familiarisation trip, food and wine loomed large. There are plenty of dining choices on Gozo, from budget pizza and burgers to the likes of the Ta Philippe restaurant, which was more of an experience than a meal. The menu is typical Gozo: goat and sheep’s cheeses, nettle pasta, lamb, rabbit and suckling pig. You can ask to visit its wine-cellar, and visitors spend anything from 20 to 300 euros a bottle. Incidentally, Gozo’s Marsovin range of wines is impressive, and as it makes so little of it (the island covers only 26sq miles), very little is exported.

Above from left: Entrypoint for the Cathedral; entering the cave. Below left: Rentable Gozo farmhouse for groups. Below: Azure Window site.


GETTING THERE8 Budget-airline flight to Malta, 30-40 minute road-transfer with a short ferryride from Cirkewwa to Gozo. DIVING & ACCOMMODATION 8Atlantis Divers, Marsalforn, also has accommodation available, Most dive-centres either have their own accommodation or can help arrange it. Consider renting a Gozo farmhouse as a self-catering option for a group – access to this kind of luxury could end up cheaper per person even than the budget hotels and hostels. WHEN TO GO8 In summer some popular sites can be rammed with divers. The water is warmer and stays that way until October, and the air can be a blistering 30-35°C, making good hydration essential. In April and May you can experience more solitude at sites but might benefit from a drysuit at that time of year. MONEY8 Euro. PRICES8 Atlantis has a November offer (it says water temperatures are still at 23°C down to 40m depth) with seven nights’ at Atlantis Apartments, 10 accompanied shore-dives and airport transfers for 350 euros (two sharing); or with B&B at Atlantis Lodge 420 euros. Return flights from UK cost from £55. VISITOR INFORMATION8



Totally wrecked


T’S A LOVELY DAY FOR A WRECK-DIVE, and everyone on board is in good spirits. What could possibly go wrong? Well here are just a few of my epic wreck-diving “fails”…

The sea-state slanging match


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It all looked great from inside the harbour, but out beyond the shelter of the land the sea-state is distinctly lumpy. The skipper is muttering about finding an alternative site and the rust-prodders are getting upset at the thought of wasting their gas on a “scenic” dive. Tempers rising along with the testosterone level. It’s clipboards and lump-hammers drawn as the dive-organiser tries to face down a mutinous tekkie metal-head. At this point the skipper artfully angles the boat into the path of a rogue wave. There’s a mass outbreak of seasickness and the unzipped drysuits of both protagonists get a hefty dose of freezing sea water. I suspect that we’ll be diving wherever the skipper says we’ll dive.

Pecking-order punch-ups: The shotline is on the wreck. Everyone is kitted-up and ready to go, but there’s a massive row brewing about who is going to jump first. It’s not just about ego; some harbour the desire to nab any brass that may be on this wreck ahead of their rivals. While the argument rages, the skipper instructs his mate to start chucking everybody in at the same time. It’s an unholy scramble on the shotline, with crowbars and video-cameras clashing.

Someone stole our wreck Pt 1 With greater use of professional skippers, hardboats and sophisticated GPS, it’s increasingly rare to arrive at the dive-site and not be able to locate the wreck. But on this occasion the boat has been up and down, and round and round, with not a blip on the fishfinder to be found. Dodgy marks? Or fat-finger syndrome on the GPS? Whatever the reason, there’ll always be “the wreck that got away”.

Someone stole our wreck Pt 2 The wreck was pinged, the shot went in, but now I’m face to face with a pile of rocks, a couple of brittlestars and the open expanse of HMS Seabed. Annoyingly, the wreck may or may not be around here somewhere. Should I attach a line-reel and search for a drag-line leading away from the shot? Or sigh and ascend, in the hope of intercepting my fellow-divers before everyone’s dive is ruined?

Someone stole our wreck Pt 3 Whee! Wow, someone has shortened this shotline. I’m on the end and merrily whooshing along at… well it’s dark and hard to focus, so unsure what depth… Is that the seabed below, or a trick of the gloom? Spookily that ripping current on the surface disappeared as soon as I started to descend. Everyone had been banging on about spring tides and missing slack. Losers! Now why is my computer beeping?

Someone please steal this wreck! We’re on the wreck! It’s a bit broken up. A conger with the head of a pitbull has already terrified one pair of divers away but it’s lovely down here. Lots of stuff strewn around. That white object is a toilet. Oh. Actually, I could really do with a wee… 45 minutes of deco on my computer… Where’s an adult nappy when you need one?



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Welsh cave-diver MARTYN FARR wrote his book The Darkness Beckons back in 1980, and its two editions became bibles for practitioners of the sport, but it had not been updated for 26 years – until now. In this excerpt from his chapter on Australian cave-diving, the author looks at one of the most exciting of recent developments. Photography by RICHARD HARRIS



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INCE 2000 THE THRUST of exploration and the most outstanding discoveries in Australia have been made on the Roe Plains, adjoining Nullarbor. This extensive lowland has a number of flooded caves, including Burnabbie, Nurina and Olwolgin. With entrances originally recorded by dedicated caver Max Hall, the caves had been known for a number of years but had long been overshadowed by the spectacular caves on the main Nullarbor Plain. It was in 2001 that Paul Hosie, a leading activist from Perth in Western Australia, turned his attention to the Roe Plains. The track leading to these sites is poor and in the case of Olwolgin there is a 1.3km walk through the bush to reach the entrance. From here it’s a relatively easy scramble down a slope to access a small pool lying almost within the daylight zone. Initial reconnaissance revealed a low and silty passage where Hosie ran out of line. In January 2002 he returned alone for a further look and was amazed to find that the underwater tunnel just went on and on, into the largest tunnels then known beneath the Roe Plains. In February 2002 the total length of the passages was to reach 1.3km. Lying just 10m or so beneath the surface, the shallow phreatic caves of the Roe were different to any other caves in Australia. Situated at lower altitude and nearer to the coast than the renowned sites such as Cocklebiddy and Weebubbie, these caves were to present haloclines, and other very unusual features. The walls were often white, covered in mats of organic growth which peeled away when disturbed. At one site there was an accumulation of bizarre “jellylike” bacteria living on the cave floor.

Left: One of the smaller passages in Olwolgin.

clearly supports its own fascinating eco-system.” By Easter 2010 Olwolgin cave had divulged 2700m of upstream passage. But things were soon to change. On a trip to the cave in October 2011, Hosie decided to look at a small, unexplored pool near the entrance. For the sake of survey completion this second sump had to be checked out. When he returned to camp that afternoon it was with an empty reel. He had passed a sidemount restriction and laid 100m of line in an ongoing tunnel. That same evening he returned with his regular buddy, Alan Polini. Both were

equipped with twin 7-litre bottles. He described the dive in camp later as “diving towards the biggest area of darkness”. The next morning Ken Smith and visiting Bahamian diver Brian Kakuk were “given the nod” and, naturally excited, promptly accepted the generous lead offered to them. Smith could not believe his luck when he clipped on to the end of the line at 300m and continued into the blackness. All too soon his reel was empty and Kakuk attached another. The pair mapped 600m on their outward dive. ☛


N A VISIT IN OCTOBER 2010, Richard Harris described a section of Olwolgin Cave: “Babylon Lake – so named because of its hanging gardens – contains superb examples of tree roots draped like a veil into the crystal water. The atmosphere above water is so toxic that a single cautious sip left me breathless with a momentarily scalded throat. “On the water float the corpses of numerous dead white centipedes and spiders. It’s hard to imagine a more inhospitable place, and yet it’s one that



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Smith commented: “I was so overwhelmed by what we had just done that I was shaking with excitement, so much so that I couldn’t hold my pencil steady enough to write down the survey data, so Brian had to do it for me.” A rapid, rolling assault ensued. Richard Harris and Grant Pearce went in next. Using a stage bottle apiece, the pair reached more than 800m from base. Not surprisingly there were side tunnels and the further the teams progressed the larger and more complex the site became. Thankfully the passages remained fairly shallow. In total about 1400m of line was run into the network within the space of 36 hours. On a trip at Easter in 2012 an enormous room was discovered by Pearce and Chris Edwards at the furthermost point. The chamber, 130m long and 30m wide, was later named Grand Central, as a number of other passages were soon found to join at this point. Most significant of these was Ag’s Dreamtime (named after Agnes Milowka, who had died in Tank Cave the previous year), which ran parallel to the principal passage. Spurred on by the spectacular discovery, Hosie and Polini set their sights upon a south-west continuation. Polini recalls their next advance: “It was a good thing that we each carried a compass; we needed them, as divEr


the sheer size of the Anzac Parade tunnel made the high-powered lighting systems we had virtually useless. “Don’t get me wrong; it was great to be laying line in what is and could quite possibly be the largest unexplored passage I will ever experience, but a shame that we could barely see the walls. “Just like floating through space, we unloaded the line off the reel screaming and hooting at each other. More than 600m of passage was explored and surveyed. Hosie again: “In three days of highly focused exploration diving, Alan and I spent 16 hours each under water. This enabled us to add 1800m to the surveyed length of the cave and extend the maximum penetration distance to over 1250m – exhilarating, but exhausting indeed.”


T EASTER 2013 Hosie returned and discovered another major lead, the Easter Extension, and 500m of passage trending south-west. In total the trip amassed 1700m of new passage. Later that year the downstream passages were to total 7200m and the two Olwolgin sectors added together gave a grand total of 9900m. At one point a complete skeleton of a dingo was located on the passage floor, close to what once must have been an ancient entrance to the cave. A young newcomer to the team, Ryan Kaczkowski, soon proved his

Above: Divers negotiate the restricted entry passage leading downstream in Olwolgin.

determination. In November 2013 he pushed through a small hole to find the main continuation of the Easter series and another 500m of passage. The “end” was becoming evermore distant. Dive times were seriously escalating, with time away from dive base now in excess of four hours. As ever the equipment being used required constant re-evaluation. This was no place for conventional backmounted equipment. Their basic configuration was to consist of side-mounted rebreathers on one side and 100cu ft open-circuit bailout on the other. Hosie had constructed three homemade rebreathers in the years prior; his buddies soon developed their own sets. The Easter 2014 trip extended the cave by 1500m, taking the furthermost penetration to 2163m. With a multitude of unexplored passages the October 2014 expedition was destined to take another giant stride forward. Thursday 9 October was a very memorable day. Kaczkowski relates: “I was using a single Kiss Sidekick sidemount unit with plenty of gas bail-out staged through the cave. After looking around the “end of the line”, it reminded me of just before the Grand Central area, so I started poking upwards. “I could see that there was a large rock choke above me, so I shuffled rocks around until I could get them to fall down

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CAVE DIVER and into the fissure below. It silted out so I couldn’t see but could feel the hole was getting larger and my arm could feel that there was definitely empty space above. “I only had an hour left on the scrubber so had to turn but I needed to come back with hammer and chisel anyway… I dreamed about breaking through that night. “The following morning… I went out solo and started working with the tools on the hole, which I found quite difficult in a vertical position on a sidemount breather. “I could just fit my head through and could see it was a large flat room, but did it go? After another half-hour of “gardening”I managed to get it just big enough to shuffle through with my bailout pushed in front. “Wooooo hoo!… big and plenty of black unknowns. I stopped for a few moments to settle my heart-rate down (I was a little excited) then grabbed the reel and the line laying into Blood Moon Passage began. After I got back to camp I told the guys: “We’re gonna need more bail-outs.”

Right: Organic drapery hanging from the roof in Olwolgin.


HE BREAKTHROUGH INTO the Blood Moon Passage was subsequently to yield about 2000m of additional passage. Hosie outlines the current situation: “For the two eight-hour dives I did to explore and survey side passages in the new extension, one unit was used as a stage CCR [closed-circuit rebreather] for the two-hour each-way travel to the end

ABOUT THE NEW EDITION Martyn Farr began cave-diving in 1971 and by 1981 had set a world-record for undersea cave penetration in the Bahamas. In the UK he became known for his 1977 explorations of Wookey Hole, and the first subterranean traverse of Llangattock Mountain in Wales in 1986. Farr has made many expeditions worldwide, to Iran, Mexico, Borneo, China, Dominican Republic, Japan, France, Spain, the Canary islands, the Balearics, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Russia, Australia and, most recently, New Zealand. The Australia excerpt here comes from the 2017 edition of Farr’s book The Darkness Beckons: The History and Development of World Cave Diving, which is published by Vertebrate Publishing, The book was first published in 1980 and updated in 1991, but the current edition is three times the size of the original book and embraces the many global developments and achievements in the sport in more recent times. ISBN: 9781910240748, 246 x 189mm, 416pp, softback, full colour, price £25.

and then I switched to the primary unit, which was used for exploration up to 1000m from the last staging point. “Most of the time we aim to dive as pairs – particularly when pushing main conduit leads (one looks for the way on, the other lays line), but when exploring and surveying side-tunnels we tend to travel through the cave to the destination areas together and then split up to explore independently… It was a sensational trip!” In January 2015 downstream Olwolgin had 11,000m of surveyed passage with a maximum penetration of 2814m, and ranks as Australia’s longest underwater system. With the exploration of the downstream sector nowhere near complete, it is clear that this saga has a long course to run. And with their unique eco-systems, it is also clear that these Roe caves offer immense scope for future scientific research.



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Pictured: Abundant soft coral growth frames a diver on the wreck of the Volos. Below: Not breaking the surface, the only indiction of a hazardous reef below is the lighthouse.


LTHOUGH NOT found in many logbooks, one of the best of Greek dive-spots has to be Lefteris Reef. Located between the mainland of Mt Pelion and the island of Skiathos in the Sporades archipelago, Lefteris is a small submerged ridge of rock around which some extraordinary events have taken place. There is always a palpable sense of excitement when speeding out to Lefteris Reef on a dive-boat. It is a place slow to give up its secrets, and one never knows what might be discovered. Abundant marine life, ranging from soft corals to a resident moray eel, are certainties, but shards of ancient amphoras indicate that this is also a place GLOU





Lefteris Reef in Greece has become the graveyard for many ships over millennia, but few can have as intriguing a backstory as the Volos, says ROSS J ROBERTSON, who writes in collaboration with Dimitri Evangelopoulos, Dimitri Galon and Paris Sofos. So what exactly did Hans Hass find when he filmed the wreck in 1942?

rich in history. Not even breaking the surface, Lefteris has always been a notorious shipping hazard. According to Greek historian Herodotus, at least three galleys hit the reef and sank during the failed second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. King Xerxes then ordered a stone column built out of blocks weighing up to half a ton to be erected to prevent further loss. Dating two and a half centuries earlier than the lighthouse of Alexandria, this beacon is the oldest navigational construction known in historical records. In more contemporary times, Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851-1911), a celebrated Greek writer from Skiathos, mentions Lefteris Reef in The Poor Saint: “Lefteris releases cargos from its ships and

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frees sailors from the short burden of life.” Despite its present wireframe lighthouse, Lefteris Reef has the distinction of having caused two more recent wrecks. Built in 1956 and 58m in length, the cargo ship Vera ran aground there in 1999. At depths of 17 to 28m, the wreck now lies broken in two and remains easily accessible to divers of various abilities. More intriguing is the ss Volos, an older wreck the identity of which was forgotten for almost 60 years. Its full backstory has only now been rediscovered. The excitement of diving the Volos has a lot to do not just with the circumstances of its sinking (see panel below) but with this backstory. It is a deep dive that starts almost at the cusp of the recreational dive limit at more than 36m. Rolled over on its side, the ship’s remains are in two distinct sections, located just a few metres from each other. The forward and deeper section is the foredeck and forecastle in its entirety. Frustratingly for non-technical divers, it lies on an incline, with the bow plunging down to 61m-plus. As you descend past the two forward cargo-hold openings set in the steel framework of the ship, you can envisage Captain Pietsch peering out into the darkness from the bridge as the churning seas dumped sheets of water onto the foredeck on that fateful night.





You can imagine the helmsman trying desperately to steer the ship true and steady in a swell that periodically swallowed the forecastle whole, as she ploughed through crest and trough. You can feel the panic when the First Officer alerted the Captain to the dangerous proximity of Lefteris, and conceive the horror as they realised that nothing could be done to avoid the inevitable.


ENETRATING THIS SECTION OF the wreck is easy, thanks to the open ribbed framing. As you delve into the hull, there are no wide-open cargo spaces, as you might expect, only a forest of slowly decaying steel beams and columns adorned with coral. At one time, this area would have been

AID DOWN IN 1902 by Neptun Aktiengesellschaft of Rostock, and originally called the Thasos, the vessel was assigned the unenviable role of munitions transport in the German Imperial Navy during World War One. Seriously damaged in 1917 after running aground near the northern Swedish town of Lulea, she was towed back to Germany after the war and repaired. In 1921 she was relaunched as the Volos and started ploughing a regular route between Hamburg and Istanbul. The Volos came to grief 10 years later at 8.14pm on 21 February, 1931, in heavy seas and force 8 to 10 winds, when she struck Lefteris Reef. Captain Pietsch and First Officer Bohl both had acknowledged experience in Greek waters, but the ferocity of the storm and an unusually strong current got the better of them both. Steering became ineffectual in a massive swell that eventually dumped the 86m steel vessel onto Lefteris as if she were a child’s toy, sending the three officers and 23 crew sprawling and putting their lives in grave danger. With burst pipes and a cracked hull, Volos

Above: The Vera, which sank in 1999, is the neighbouring wreck at around 20m.

started taking in water. Desperate, Captain Pietsch ordered her full astern, but to no avail – the force of the impact had displaced both boiler and engine. The radio operator commenced sending out an SOS, but unfortunately no one realised that the antenna had been short-circuited. As the waves pounded the stricken vessel and the water continued to pour in, the generator finally failed and the ship was plunged into darkness. OIL-LAMPS WERE LIT but there was little the crew could do apart from shelter from the worst ravages of the storm and pray for salvation. Against all reasonable expectation, navigation lights of a passing steamer were seen only two hours after the incident. The ship’s whistle was blown, but the steamer did not change direction and her lights agonisingly faded into the distance. Incredibly, as the crew’s hopes seemed dashed, a

packed with munitions for the Imperial German Army. Now, with its complex steel structure silhouetted against the deep blue of the Aegean, it is eerily empty. The aft section, which lies at around 36m, is more of a mystery. In 1942, during the height of the Nazi occupation, Austrian marine biologist and pioneering underwater photographer Hans Hass was in Greece on a scientific expedition. Using surface-supplied diving techniques and rebreathers (it would be another year before Jacques Cousteau coinvented the Aqualung) Hass actually filmed the Volos under water. Miraculously, the footage can still be seen today, in the 1947 documentary Menschen Unter Haien (Men Among Sharks). It shows the wreck upright and fully intact in only 10-12m of water. ☛

second vessel was spotted. However, this also failed to notice the marooned survivors stuck on the reef in the midst of flurries of blinding spray and unforgiving seas. Fortunately, the storm had abated enough to take them out of immediate danger by the following morning. A jury-rigged antenna allowed an SOS to finally get through, and the Swedish ship ss Belos was despatched. The next day the crew were taken off (and back to the nearby city of Volos, as it happens), while the Captain, First Officer and Chief Engineer stayed on board for another three days to prevent any attempt to claim salvage rights until recovery operations could be arranged and completed.



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all scavenged. Methods were often crude, with dynamite being employed, despite the environmental damage caused. So the Volos, as it is today, is just a partial wreck, but what remains invites divers to explore some fascinating events in history – which also include one more irresistible twist to the tale.

Above left: Broken crossbeams mark the shallowest point of the forward section at 36m. Above right: A moray eel is one of the local residents.


HE 1942 HANS HASS EXPEDITION included fellow-Austrian Alfons Hochhauser. Having lived as a shepherd and then a fisherman in the Pelion region for years before the war, he was fluent in Greek and thoroughly familiar with the Sporades and the surrounding maritime area. In 1928 he was responsible for the recovery of the famed Artemision Bronze, a life-sized statue of Zeus (or perhaps Poseidon) made around 460 BC and now a prime exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The statue was recovered from a (possibly Roman) shipwreck dated to around 250 BC off Cape Artemision in northern Evia – just 10 nautical miles south-west of Lefteris. In entries made in 1942, Hochhauser (who was later to use his position in the Wehrmacht Secret Field Police to save Greeks – many of whom were his friends – from the draconian measures imposed by the Nazis) writes in his personal diary; “July 14th – We are the ones who took them out of the sea and they were the ones

Below left: Penetration of cargo bay 2 reveals an intricate structure of beams and columns. Below: Lefteris Reef has been a danger to shipping since ancient times, as amphorae fragments indicate.

who packed them in wooden crates and put them into the hold. I have counted 12 crates so far. All of them are full of amazing artefacts from the sunken city. Some of them are like new.” “25 August – last day. Tomorrow we are coming back – ‘X’ [Hans Hass] is clearly happy – I paid my debt from the past. But I’m not happy at all. The movies we shot were very good, but the hold is full of crates. I consider how different it is now than 1928 when we discovered the ancient god.” Although never rediscovered, the “sunken city” reportedly lies somewhere between Psathoura and Gioura islands, which are, needless to say, also in the Sporades. Given that Lefteris Reef has claimed so many wrecks over the years, logic dictates that if Hass and Hochhauser found any ancient artefacts while they were there to film, they would also have shipped them back to Nazi Germany. It is more than likely that the shards of ancient amphoras that can still be seen today are a mere remnant of what once was. Or perhaps – as any good diver might assume – they are just the tantalising traces of what has yet to be discovered. l Two local dive centres that organise dive trips to Lefteris Reef are: Skiathos Diving Centre,, and Zoumbo Sub, The author wishes to thank Yiannis Iliopoulos and Androniki Iliadou of Athos-Scuba Diving Centre, Halkidiki for their help with his article. PARIS SOFOS

Seventy-five years later, the remaining aft section is only a small portion of what it should be. At roughly 10m long and with no conclusively identifiable features, it could be any part of the ship rear of the foredeck other than the distinctive poop and stern. On approach, the first thing you notice is a lifeboat davit, laden with marine growth and drooping down towards the sand. However, this does not identify the aft section as being near the boat-deck. Closer inspection reveals that the davit is resting on the outside of the port gunwale, meaning that it fell onto its present position. Emanating from the gunwale are the cross-beams that used to support the deck, but these are now vertical and twisted. Many are broken and have become snags for unsuspecting fishermen. Impossibly, the distance from gunwale to sand is only 3-4m. It is as though threequarters of the ship’s 12.6m breadth is somehow buried deep in the sand – but this is just an illusion. Sadly, it is simply missing. The post-WW2 ethos was to salvage old wrecks for scrap. Between 1945 and 1952, the Greek government demolished more than 350 wrecks for this reason. Although ss Volos is not on any known official list, it was not excluded from this indignity. Its single propeller, the superstructure and most probably the highly prized engine and the boiler were

BSAC (Try Tech) – 09_17.qxp_Full Page Bleed 24/07/2017 15:17 Page 1

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When you get your eye in you realise that colourful sea-slugs are not confined to the tropics – southeastern Scotland, for example, can also be a happy hunting-ground for macro enthusiasts. RICHARD ASPINALL drops into the Scottish Nudibranch Festival divEr


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HAT AN AMAZING SITE!” I enthused to Jim the skipper, as he helped me off with my fins. He laughed. “Most people say: ‘Why did you bother with that one? It’s just seaweed and nothing to see!’” I sat back on the bench and released my BC straps, eager to have a look at the back of my camera to see if I’d captured anything of value. In and among the usual out-of-focus images in the viewfinder, there were a few that made me happy. Jim Anderson had been right – this was one of the best nudibranch sites in Scotland. We had left Eyemouth that morning, past the grey seals that spend their days posing for the tourists, and out onto the wonderfully calm sea. We had headed north, up the coast to St Abb’s Head, that massive bulwark of rock that, as it falls away into the North Sea, becomes a complicated series of pinnacles and gullies. As I was deleting images, a few more divers were returning. “Did you see how many Acanthodoris pilosa there were?” asked one. Within minutes of taking off their gear, the experts were comparing notes, and I was lost. I’d have been disappointed if it had been any other way. We were halfway through a series of dives as part of the Scottish Nudibranch Festival, and I would be learning a great deal. While I was at the happy-to-see-acolourful-one stage, I was glad there were folk around who could tell me exactly what it was that I was photographing. I’m a long way from being a nudibranch obsessive, but I can see why they are such a source of interest.


UDIBRANCHS ARE among the most colourful animals in the oceans. There is nothing quite like them, apart from flatworms perhaps, which confuse many of us eager-to-learn nudi newbies. Maybe it’s their rhinophores, the sensory organs at the “head end” that lend them a cuteness factor, as well as their slow-moving, easy-to-photograph nature. Maybe it’s simply that they are so different to animals on land, reminding us of just how remarkable the underwater world is compared to our mundane lives above the surface. I’m not sure, but I can entirely understand how, with a macro lens fitted

Above: The Jacob George on day one of the festival, not far from Burnmouth to the south of Eyemouth. Left: Polycera quadrilineata a satisfying ‘beginner’s’ nudibranch. Below: Limacia clavigera.

to a camera, a dive that some might find dull (not a hint of a wreck, and only to 10m) can become special. For me, there is something magical about my torch-light falling across a beautifully coloured gem amid the murk and cold of typical UK dive-sites. On the face of it, the waters off Scotland’s south-east coast might not be the first place you’d think of to host a nudibranch festival. Tropical destinations come more easily to mind, Anilao and Lembeh being just two. You’d be wrong, however, because UK seas teem with life and with nudibranchs. You just might not have noticed them.

Over a coffee and some home-baked cake, we enjoyed the summer sun and the almost flat-calm seas. I have done only a handful of dive-trips in this part of the world, and each time I’ve found myself thinking back to conversations with folk on liveaboards who swore that they wouldn’t dive “back home”. A small pod of dolphins swam past, heading south, and the skies were full of seabirds: fulmars, guillemots and kittiwakes. So much life. Admittedly, a summer storm can ruin your plans, but when the conditions are good this is world-class diving on the doorstep. We were diving from Marine Quest’s two boats, Silver Sea and Jacob George, and the team was treating us exceptionally well. A history of fishing locally and salvagediving (in the days of hand-cranked surface-air supplies and brass hats) suited the family firm’s shift to the dive industry.


UR SURFACE INTERVAL was over, and Jim gave us a quick briefing on the best way to explore the wall and swimthroughs. As we descended, my computer registered 13°C and, as I added a little gas to my drysuit, I could see for at least 15m! This was excellent visibility. Around us, the rocks that had tumbled from the cliffs above were capped with luxuriant growths of seaweed – from fine fronds to huge growths of kelp, each massive, leaf-like blade anchored to the rock by a thick stem and sturdy holdfast. In this underwater forest crabs scuttled and, on the kelp itself, cowries and bluerayed limpets grazed. I could see nudibranchs as well. In fact there were hundreds of them. I was straining a little to see the really small ones, not many millimetres long. Taking a few photographs and viewing them on the camera’s screen revealed them to be the common Polycera quadrilineata, an ideal beginner’s ☛



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nudibranch and one I had seen before. They’re common and attractive, with yellow detailing on their gills and rhinophores. Four yellow stripes on the body explain their scientific name. I wondered how often I had passed these little characters by on previous dives? How many times had I ignored the seaweed-rich shallows to get to the depths, ignoring entirely this leafy world? Among the kelp holdfasts, the seaweeds turned from green to a rich burgundy

under my camera’s spotting light and there, reflecting pure white, was a large nudibranch with a definite “fluffy” appearance. This was Acanthodoris pilosa (I’d learn later), also going by the common name of hairy spiny doris. You can understand why scientific names are preferred by the experts. The large rhinophores they use to “smell” the world around them, give a fluffy-bunny appearance. Dropping deeper and exploring the

Above from left: The large Acanthodoris pilosa has a ’fluffy’ appearance; Flabellina pedata, the violet sea-slug.

Left: Although the vis was excellent a small torch was invaluable for locating the nudibranchs.

sides of the boulders which, in some cases, form swim-throughs metres high, brought us to another seascape entirely. The rocks were covered with pure white growths of deadmen’s fingers and large patches of colourful anemones, rivalling anything from the tropics for colour and sheer numbers. I caught a glimpse of something bright, and made out a nudibranch with the apt name of crystal tips. These are common and easily seen nudibranchs that appear to glow under torch-light. The projections on their bodies, which serve as gills as well as containing thin threads of digestive tract, are tipped with bright white and blue.


WAS DOING WELL at spotting the larger nudibranchs, but there was far more to come. Heading back to port on the boat, I got chatting to Jim Anderson, the festival’s organiser and lead author (with Bernard Picton) of the ebook Scottish Nudibranchs. Jim seems reluctant to be called an expert, though he knows more about the 107 species of nudibranch and other seaslugs so far identified around the Scottish coast than anyone I have ever met. I could recognise around five species, and their scientific names were slowly sinking into my grey matter, but I suspect that I was the least knowledgeable person on the boat. Jim was introduced to nudibranchs in the Seychelles in 1987, by a divemaster who was compiling a list of local species and using guests to help find specimens. “This captured my imagination,” he told me. “There were so many species of an animal that hitherto I’d had no idea existed, and that were so colourful.” Jim’s ebook is, he says, currently the only guide to UK nudibranchs available. A Field Guide to the Nudibranchs of the British Isles by Picton and Morrow is now out of print, though perhaps it will return in digital format so that it can be updated as our knowledge increases. This is where divers can assist. Bodies such as Seasearch help divers to record their marine-life sightings and recordings, and records are then added to national databases of species’ distribution.



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Looking at the maps for many marine species, including nudibranchs, will show apparent hotspots. This may simply be a reflection of the number of dives being made in particular places, however. Whole stretches of coastline could be amazing habitats for nudibranchs and other species, and it’s just that nobody has recorded any yet. The following day was another scorcher and, as we left the harbour, the ice-cream sellers were rubbing their hands with glee. Heading north once more, we explored some wonderfully named sites: Conger Reef, Craig and, our final destination, Skelly Hole. I think the best had been saved for last. I was determined to photograph some of the smaller nudibranchs. I’d done OK with the larger specimens but was aware that some fellow-divers were finding tiny ones that, for those with good eyesight, are as pretty as their larger cousins. “This might be my chance,” I thought, as Jim manoeuvred the boat carefully

Above, from left: Diaphodoris luteocincta, the ‘fried egg nudibranch’ – it looks as if someone has added ketchup; the beautiful Aegires punctilucens; crystal tips, or Janolus cristatus. Below: Tenellia caerulea.

between the long sections of rock that ran out seawards. Not a site to be dived with swell, I imagine, as the local geology meant a narrow entrance to a sheltered spot, surrounded by tall cliffs hosting thousands of noisy seabirds. As we descended to around the 15m mark, the seabed of rounded pebbles gave way to seaweed-covered rocks. A small octopus seemed eager to avoid me. I was puzzled for a moment by the rounded rocks that all seemed to be the same size, before realising that these were the empty shells of guillemot eggs from the colonies above. Perhaps it was the fertiliser from above, but the seaweed here seemed even more luxuriant, like some sort of a prehistoric forest. The light and clarity of the water was excellent, and without a current I could once again focus on the kelp. Straining my aged eyes, I could make out something that might have been a nudibranch. I fired off plenty of shots and

there it was, a creature 4 or 5mm long, feeding on the hydroids that grew on the kelp fronds. It was properly visible to me only as I enlarged its image on my LCD screen. I was going to need some better contact lenses.


HUCKLING TO MYSELF and aware that there were far more nudibranchs around me than I had ever imagined, my buddy and I headed a little further out. I could see her flashing her torch at something and, as I finned over and strained my eyes once more, there was a streak of violet pink; I had a Flabellina pedata to shoot. Then, not many centimetres away, a tiny brown blob revealed itself to be a gorgeous little creature with tiny blue spots on its flanks. Aegires punctilucens is one of those names that means nothing until you learn, as I did, that punctilucens means “spotted with lights”, or something approximating that translation. Adding two more species to my list was a great way to finish the dive. We had reached about 50 minutes, and it was getting a little chilly. I had more than 100 bar left in my 15-litre cylinder and a memory card with around 20 nudis on it. My buddy was also happy to return to the surface, despite our remaining gas, so I sent up my DSMB. As I looked up, I could see something in the water – something flew past. There were scores of guillemots, doing passable penguin impressions as they “flew” under water all round us. I have enjoyed safety stops with oceanic whitetips and with dolphins, but never with birds. It was the perfect end to a great weekend. Y The Scottish Nudibranch Festival 2018 is expected to run in the middle of June, with exact dates to be set. Check Marine Quest’s website,



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Taking another line Shipwrecks of the P&O Line by Sam Warwick & Mike Roussel

THIS BOOK MUST HAVE been another labour of love for Sam Warwick (above left), a technical diver based in Australia and dedicated to passenger ships. With his grandfather first master of the QE2 and his father the master of that vessel and first master of the QM2, he was raised in the liner world. He has written for divEr in the past, mainly, as you might expect from his lineage, about Cunard liner wrecks. He and Mike Roussel wrote the book Shipwrecks of the Cunard Line for the History Press four years ago. That volume was favourably received in these pages, combining as it did Warwick’s diving and Roussel’s historical research strengths to great effect. Now we have a companion piece from the same stable, and Warwick appears to have gone over to the enemy, because this book is dedicated to Cunard’s major rival over the years, the Peninsular & Orient Line. The Cunard volume covered 18

wrecks in detail and rounded up 66, the casualties of 170 years of bad weather and warfare. The latest offering covers the similar number of casualties recorded by P&O, which started losing ships six years earlier than Cunard. Of 78 wrecks sustained between 1837 and 1957, half of them sank during the two world wars, with a third of those ending up in diveable depths. In fact these sites are listed in a table giving their depths towards the back – there are 26 of them (if you include the Socotra at Le Touque, which, at 1m deep, is more of a lie-down than a dive) – but apart from the 130m-deep Egypt off the French coast and the Ballarat in Cornwall at 73m, most of the others are in recreational depths. Very familiar names to British divers will be such wrecks as the Salsette, Moldavia, Egypt, Oceana and Somali around home shores, and the Carnatic in the Red Sea. A brief history gets us underway and then we’re straight down to the individual ships, with plenty of intriguing photographs. These are a combination of contemporary, artefact and underwater pictures where applicable, especially of the WW2 wrecks. The big-name wrecks get plenty of space in which their stories can be developed, from launch to dive-site. The writing is crisp and to the point,

and the diving content is just detailed enough to provide a good counterpoint to the history. In fact the only thing I didn’t really like was the typesetting – wide, light and tracked-out to avoid hyphenation, it’s not especially readerfriendly. This is a book for UK wreck-divers who revel in maritime history, whether the result is a diveable wreck or not.

History Press ISBN: 9781775845348 Hardback, 180pp, £25

LONG-HAUL LADY Nicole: The True Story of a Great White Shark's Journey into History, by Richard Peirce A FEW YEARS AGO a female great white shark, nicknamed Lydia by the scientists who had tagged her in Florida, made headlines as she wandered over more than 35,000 miles of the North Atlantic, even



Small lead soldiers are a common find on the wreck of the Somali.


as listed by (11 July, 2017) 1. Underwater Foraging – Freediving for Food, by Ian Donald 2. Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die, by Chris Santella 3. The Silent World, by Jacques Cousteau 4. Diver Down: Real-World Scuba Accidents and How to Avoid Them, by Michael Ange 5. Diver Down: Real-World Scuba Accidents and How to Avoid Them (Kindle), by Michael Ange 6. Beyond the Light Zone, by Steve Turley 7. Scuba Diving, by Dennis Graver 8. Technical Diving from the Bottom Up, by Kevin Gurr 9. Diving in Darkness: Beneath Rock, Under Ice, into Wrecks, by Martyn Farr 10. Essentials of Deeper Sport Diving, by John Lippmann

though, disappointingly for the British tabloids, she failed to reach these waters and terrorise beach-goers. Lydia might have captured the popular imagination but, lest we forget, it was another tagged female great white 10 years earlier that had not only been recorded as making a single epic return journey, but had made a significant contribution in the campaign to protect sharks from human predation. Nicole was tagged by a dedicated team of researchers off South Africa, and tracked not only crossing the Indian Ocean but continuing along the southern Australian coast, before heading back to where she began. Hers was the longest single recorded journey by any great white shark, and also the fastest over such a distance. The navigational skills involved were impressive. A huge amount was learnt about great whites by researchers in the process, and Nicole’s journey was instrumental in gaining CITES protection for the species. As Richard Peirce puts it in his fascinating new book: “Nicole's story puts those ‘lifeless black eyes, that don't seem to be living’, referred to by Captain Quint in the movie Jaws, into a different perspective. Clearly, behind those ‘lifeless black eyes’ lies an intelligence that we are still striving to understand.” This short book tells the story of Nicole and the researchers who traced her epic journey (though perhaps a journey that wasn’t that big a deal to this 3.8m shark). There are necessarily gaps that data from a tag can’t fill, but the author completes them with imagination and always, thanks to his expertise in this field, convincingly. The discussion of the possible reasons for Nicole's migration seem to emphasise how relatively little we still know for sure. The book is richly illustrated and I found it an absorbing read. It also comes with a sting in the tail. Nicole seems to underline that cage-diving with great white sharks in the few areas where they tend to collect (South Africa, Australia, Mexico) does have a legitimate place in the diving world, in that first-time divers tend to become enthusiastic recruits to the growing army of shark fans. Let’s hope it’s not too little too late, because there don’t seem to be that many great whites left. Part of the proceeds of the book will go to the Shark Spotters beach-watch service.

Shark Cornwall Publishing ISBN: 9781775845348 Softback, 136pp, £11.99

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The Darkness Beckons by Martyn Farr Dive Scapa Flow by Rod Macdonald

(TDB) Vertebrate Publishing ISBN: 9781910240748 Softback, 384pp, £25 (DSF) Whittles Publishing ISBN: 9781775845348 Softback, 344pp, £30 Reviews by Steve Weinman

IF THE MOVIE Chasing Coral has two flaws, one is not of its own making. It is that the viewers it might attract are the converted. But, with a Netflix release, let those of us in that camp hope that it will engage and motivate a wider audience. The second flaw is that this is a polemic, rather than a balanced documentary showing opposing points of view. At its heart lies the issue – or non-issue, as it is for some – of global-warming. So it is one-sided. The concept came from former London ad executive and founder of the Ocean Agency, Richard Vevers. He was inspired to apply his marketing skills to a film project to draw attention to the role corals play in the world ecosystem and the damage already being done, largely out of sight of the public, by rising sea temperatures.

Jeff Orlowski filming.


THESE TWO BOOKS are both available in updated versions this summer – and they’re both crackers. Such is the classic status of the original works, and the standing of the British divers who wrote them, that we felt they deserved extra exposure. One way to give you an idea of their content is through excerpts, so in July we published the introduction to Scottish wreck-diver Rod Macdonald’s offering, and in this month’s magazine we sample Welsh cave-diver Martyn Farr’s new offering by extracting part of the Australian section of his book. New editions of dive-books appear all the time, but the changes are rarely as extensive as in these two. The Darkness Beckons arrived in 1980, and for that generation of pretechnical cave-diver it was one of the first books written with them in mind. The title makes it sounds like a philosophical tract, but in fact it was a very practical guide to the story of submerged cave-exploration through the exploits of its personalities, with descriptions of systems in which divers might try their hand at this dark art. The new version has the same intention, but since the last edition in 1991 expeditionary cave-diving has developed as a global pastime, along with the ambition of the divers. Farr must have had his work cut out to reflect the scale of their progress. The previous 220-page book majored on UK cave-diving, followed by European and other locations. Now it’s far bigger in pagination and dimensions to cope with a quarter-of-a-century’s global stories,

and is packed with photos, maps and diagrams. It’s as sharply written as ever, and incorporates many extended first-hand accounts by other divers. No cave-diver should be without this book, and the same applies to wreck-divers and Dive Scapa Flow. Many books have been written about Britain’s world-class wreckdiving attraction, based on the German High Seas fleet scuttled off Orkney in 1919, but Macdonald’s caught divers’ imagination not only for its vivid meshing of history with diving narrative, at which he is a master, but for its illustrations. This is the sixth edition of a book first published in 1990 and most recently updated in 2011, so unlike The Darkness Beckons it has been kept reasonably well up to date factually. However, this new version is intended as the 100th centenary edition, and benefits in particular from the latest generation of sonar scans, which reveal exactly how the wrecks appear today. It’s just a pity that the page format isn’t even bigger so that these can be seen to full effect. The book has almost doubled in pagination since its original incarnation, but what is impressive is that much of the new edition has been rewritten rather than simply tacking new sections onto old. Carefully repurposed for today’s divers, these two titles have avoided becoming Jurassic – they’re still classic.

Onesided but rightsided

He then saw the movie Chasing Ice, highlighting the effects of globalwarming on the ice-caps and directed by Jeff Orlowski. The two men combined their talents and branding, with Orlowski taking on directing duties for what became Chasing Coral. Choosing tropical locations, the plan was to demonstrate the bleaching effect of warming on coral reefs using time-lapse photography. Automatically controlled cameras were built but the technology broke down – an occurrence to make any seasoned underwater photographer

crack a wry smile. The team had no option but to dive and shoot the pictures themselves, one by one. The effect of hundreds of manhours spent under water laboriously tripping shutter-releases takes up only seconds on the screen, but the impact is dramatic and sobering. Unlike some other films of its genre, this is an ensemble piece and not led by a self-styled eco-crusader. For me, this is a great strength. Nobody grandstands – the film remains focused on the message, not the messenger. The science, which one is expected to take on trust, is lay level and accessible but not condescending. For example, it is explained that the seas and oceans are a heat-sink, absorbing and holding far more heat than the land. As I understood it, the problem is not that there is a seasonal temperature rise, but that the increases blamed on global-warming now greatly exceed what nature ever adapted corals to tolerate. The film claims that 29% of corals died on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016. Chasing Coral does issue a call to arms. Divers with cameras can contribute images of their local reefs to help with monitoring. Local screenings of the movie are also encouraged, to raise awareness of the issues. Without intervention, which may rely on citizen power, Chasing Coral predicts the “eradication of a complete eco-system in our lifespan”. It may be an advertising cliché, but I left the screening thinking: when it’s gone, it’s gone. Recommended.

Exposure Labs Netflix, 93min Review by Steve Warren


Simply Scuba (Vote FP) – 09_17.qxp_Full Page Bleed 25/07/2017 12:39 Page 1

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Rum, Reefs & Wrecks It was a flying visit with three days for diving, so would NICK & CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN get a picture of what Barbados could offer? They were certainly in for a seahorse surprise


ARBADOS. Just saying the word out loud conjures visions of sandy beaches, palm trees and clear, blue water – but what about the diving? Well, it turns out that plenty has been done to make this a good destination for scuba-diving, freediving and snorkelling, as we found out on a recent whistle-stop trip. With only five nights on the Caribbean island, and just three days of diving, we thought it was going to be tough to get a true feel for Barbados. But the team from Barbados Blue made sure that we maximized our time in the water. They flew in part-owner Christine from Grenada to act as a dedicated model on our dives, provided us with further dive and freediving guides, and made sure that we experienced as many different sites as possible. On top of this, our guide from Barbados Tourism, which had organised this brief familiarisation trip, ensured that we got a taste of the island culture in the evenings and on our day off from diving before we flew home. We landed in late afternoon to be greeted with sunshine, heat and wonderful scenery on the way to our hotel, Bougainvillea Beach Resort. The hotel lived up to its name, with The ☛

Pictured: Exploring under one of the jetties. Below: Barbados has plenty of turtles on both wrecks and reefs.



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the colourful flowering plant after which it is named lining the walkways and pool area with vibrant pinks and purples. Having sorted out the usual first-day trivia, such as finding DIN converters, filling in paperwork and working out logistics, we boarded our boat and set out for Carlisle Bay. This is an area on the west coast – where most of the diving is done – that has been turned into a playground for divers and snorkellers alike.

Above: Guide and model Christine observes a school of grunt.


SERIES OF SHALLOW WRECKS, varying from World War One casualties to modern tugs, have been sunk here over many years to create a marine park. There is a circuit of wrecks, anchors and other artefacts around which divers and freedivers can easily navigate. Some of the wrecks are so shallow that they are only just beneath the surface. At these, if you look up, you will see groups of snorkellers enjoying the prolific fish life that make this site its home. With so many wrecks, along with profuse marine life, this is a site that calls for both wide-angle and macro photography, so we split up with our own guides to get the most from it. The wrecks are in good condition and very easy to dive. However, as they are on a sandy bottom, and this is a shallow site, the visibility can be as low as 10m with the stirring up of the sand on windy days. We were treated to reef squid, turtles, barracuda, sea-slugs, numerous shrimps



and crabs, loads of tropical reef fish and a wonderful seahorse. It was quite a start to the trip, and we were happy to spend the whole day exploring the Carlisle Bay wrecks. Our evenings were dedicated to discovering Barbadian cuisine, and we were astonished by the variety and quality of the restaurants we visited. Of course, we had to try out some of the famous rum cocktails too, and our visit to Cocktail Kitchen didn’t disappoint, with Dark & Stormy becoming a firm favourite. However, the scotch bonnet (pepper)-infused Mango Chow was a whole new experience, and not for those whose limit is a korma!


NE OF THE MOST FAMOUS divesites in Barbados is that of the wreck of the Stavronikita, and it was the focus of our second day of diving. The Stav, as it is known, was sunk as an artificial reef in 1978 and sits between 20 and 40m. This 110m Greek freighter has been under water for nearly 40 years and has plenty of coral growth to show for it. The ship was carrying a cargo of cement to the island when fire took hold and she had to be towed to port. The wreck stayed for two years before the Barbados Parks & Beach Commission bought it to be used as a diver-attraction. To be able to sink such a large vessel, explosives experts from the US Navy were

Right: Huge barrel sponges cover the top of the barrier reef.

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called in, and it’s possible to see the blastholes where the hull was breached to sink her. One is just forward of the starboard propeller and can be penetrated, which takes you along a corridor to the cabins. It’s quite dark, but there are frequent escape-holes along the way. The Stav is still intact and sits upright on the seabed, adorned with colourful sponges, anemones and corals. To do justice to this splendid piece of rust you would need at least three or four dives but as it was we had only one, so focused on the shallower bow section and the forward mast, though we did regret not having more time on the wreck. We also pulled up to one of the many piers and jetties lining the coastline. Offering shelter for many fish species, as well as providing a substrate on which coral and sponges can grow, these man-made structures usually make good dives. While those that are still in active use might suffer from debris and rubbish being strewn on the seabed, there are always critters and fish-life that will make it their home. It also creates an atmospheric scene and can offer up a surprise or two. This one had incredible coral growth on one section, with another covered in tube sponges. Our final day of diving saw us visit another shallow area called Folkstone Marine Park. Again, the lack of depth meant that the sand had lowered our visibility after some stormy weather. However, the team were proud that some

of the brain corals thriving there had been transplanted by them, after being saved from certain destruction during a harbour extension plan.


E DIVED THIS SITE FIRST, as there were no snorkellers or other divers this early in the morning, and visited the well-inhabited wreck of an old barge, alongside a healthy, shallow reef. To get a better feel for the barrier reef that runs the length of the island, we headed to deeper water. Here the visibility is much better, as the sandy areas subside and the water clears with the stronger currents. We descended to 20m and explored the top of an amazing coral-covered reef, but we could have gone much deeper, with the reef sloping off down into the darker water. Here we found classic Caribbean reef scenes, with huge barrel sponges rising tallest of the coral and sponge formations packing the shallowest areas. One disappointment was the lack of larger reef fish, the result of overfishing. This is being addressed, we were told, and it’s to be hoped that some of this barrier reef will become a marine park in which any fishing is banned. Our final dive of the trip was, at our request, to another jetty. We needed more time in Barbados, as we would have loved to do more reef-diving, to repeat-dive the Stav and return to Carlisle Bay, but we knew that this was going to be a special experience. As the boat pulled up close to the pier-

Top: Barbados Blue owner Andre on the bow of the Stavronikita wreck. Above: Lush coral growth on the jetty legs.

legs, we could see that the vis was better than on previous days. We jumped into the water and surface-swam closer in to the jetty. The first few inches of water were boiling with sergeant-majorfish trying to avoid being eaten by a large barracuda. The pier-legs were covered in every colour of sponge you can imagine. Porcupine, squirrel and scorpionfish ☛



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CARIBBEAN DIVER Left: Rum tasting at Mount Gay.

hid among this growth, but we were there to look for seahorses. We spent a long time looking carefully at all the sponge growth on the pier-legs, but found nothing. That was OK, as this was a wonderful place to dive and take photos, but just as we were starting to give up hope Caroline found a pair, clinging onto a discarded piece of metal on the seabed. One was pink and the other brown, and they were swaying in the current. Now that we were in the right area, and had got our eyes in, Christine found eight more in a small area – incredible! There must be many more, but time waits for no one, and we had to surface. To see so many of these enigmatic animals in one place was a highlight of the trip. On our pre-flight non-diving day we were treated to a visit to the spectacular cave system that lies beneath the centre of the island. Specialised transport takes you through magical Harrison’s Cave to see the cleverly

illuminated stalagmites and stalactites that have been forming deep beneath the surface for centuries. It is water from this cave system that is used to make the sweet spirit from the oldest rum distillery in the world…

Top: Caroline finds a seahorse. Above: Harrison’s Cave. Right: Seahorse at Carlisle Bay.


HE FOLLOWING MORNING we headed across Bridgetown to find out more about (and sample) the delights of the Mount Gay distillery. The process of making rum is started by distilling molasses in copper pot stills. It is then matured in charred white


GETTING THERE8 Nick and Caroline flew direct with BA from London Heathrow. DIVING 8Barbados Blue, ACCOMMODATION 8Bougainvillea Beach Resort is close to the dive-centre, on the beach near Oistins and St Lawrence Gap, WHEN TO GO8 Year-round. Barbados has not been hit by a hurricane since the 1950s. MONEY8 Take US dollars, though change is given in Barbados dollars at a fixed rate. PRICES8Bougainvillea Beach Resort/Barbados Blue offer a packaged one-week diving deal for £800 (two sharing). Return BA flights from £550. VISITOR



oak barrels previously used for American whisky. The final stage is the blending, and two-year-old rum can be blended with a 20-year-old to give the right balance. Our favourite sipping rum is the XO, while the best for a “dark & stormy” has to be the Black Barrel. At the end of a diving week in Barbados, why not see for yourself which one you prefer – there are several other variations from which to choose and the 1703, while expensive, is sublime. While in Barbados the famous Fish Fry on Friday nights is worth seeing – also head to St Lawrence Gap for some excellent restaurants, including Cocktail Kitchen or, for something a little more romantic, try Champers or the Fish Pot. We were enchanted by Barbados. It is a beautiful island, the people are easygoing and friendly, the food and drink surprisingly good and the diving we did was excellent.

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5 TIPS TO AVOID DIVE-BOAT ACCIDENTS Divers love their boat-diving but, unfortunately, dive-boats can be injuryprone places, says CAREN LIEBSCHER


ECAUSE OF ITS WETNESS, a dive-boat is mostly a slippery place. Some may also find it difficult to balance because of waveaction. These and other conditions can lurk on deck potentially causing accidents and injuries. Not long ago in these pages we reported on two occasions of ripped-off fingers, which struck us as pretty extraordinary cases (The High Price of

MEDICAL VIEW DAN Europe is a not-for-profit worldwide organisation that provides emergency medical advice and assistance for underwater diving injuries. It also promotes diving safety through research, education, products and services



Two Rings, April). Divers jumped off the boat and caught their wedding rings on protruberances. Much more common are incidents like a finger being bruised or even crushed by the boat ladder after a dive – undoubtfully very painful. Finger injuries are one thing, but having someone jumping on you, or being hit by a scuba tank, is something else. When head meets metal or tank hits spine, very serious injuries can occur. Some can be fixed, others can't and the diver could end up with a permanent disability. In one recent case a diver was hit on his head by the scuba-tank of another diver who had jumped off the boat later than the instructor had briefed the group. The victim continued to dive because he felt OK, but once back on the boat he developed a facial paralysis on one side of his face. He was hospitalised, and months later the problem was persisting, indicating that the incident had caused neurological damage to his brain and

the Nervus facialis that innervates the face muscles. This is a serious condition. It not only marks a person for life but also makes speaking, eating, and drinking very difficult, hampers the eye-closure reflex – and consigns scuba-diving to the past. In another recent case a divemaster was hit in the neck by a tank when another diver jumped on him. Besides a two-minute period of unconsciousness and severe pain later on, he had one broken vertebra in his cervical spine that affected movement of one arm. Two CT scans at an international hospital were needed to reveal the injury. Immediate neuro-surgery was required to fix it and prevent worse from happening. The surgery went well. Several screws and a titanium plate in his spine, later, the divemaster is recuperating. No-one wants this to happen on their holidays or at any other time. And noone probably wants to be the diver doing this to others. Worst case is permanent paralysis, or even death.

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MEDICAL DIVER So, how can we prevent accidents like this? Here are five key ways:



I inadvertently touched a small lionfish, and my fingers are swollen and blistered. What can I do?

First of all, nobody should ever just jump off a boat and land on someone else’s head, neck or back. Pay attention. A quick glance to check if the water beneath is clear is the least we should do.


Listen to briefings and follow the procedures on board when boat-crew instruct divers to jump at a certain time – don’t jump too early, nor too late. There is a reason for the exact timing.


Always stay alert and aware and watch out for yourself and for your divebuddies, especially when they are inexperienced.


Once in the water, start seeking a bit of distance from the boat immediately, so that nobody can jump on you.


If you have been hit by a tank or a jumping diver, abort the dive immediately and wait a day until you are sure that you feel alright. If not, seek medical advice at once. It would not be wise to go on diving and find out under water that a vertebra of the spine is broken, or a concussion is developing – especially as underwater

Lionfish (as well as scorpion and stonefish) possess dorsal, anal and pelvic spines that transport venom from their venom glands into puncture wounds. Common reactions include redness or blanching, swelling and blistering (lionfish). The injuries can be extraordinarily painful and occasionally (with stonefish) life-threatening. Soaking the wound in nonscalding hot water to tolerance (4345°C) may provide dramatic relief of pain from a lionfish sting, is less likely to be effective for a scorpionfish sting, and may have little or no effect on stonefish stings.

pressure changes can worsen the effect. Be warned by sharp pain (or any pain at all), numbness, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, tingling sensation, limited mobility or headaches – these are all warning signs and should be taken seriously. The skull and the spine are fragile, and the brain and the central nervous system are very vulnerable. The brain, the neurological control centre of our body, can swell when hit

Do it anyway – the heat may inactivate some harmful components of the venom. If the person stung seems intoxicated or is weak, vomiting, short of breath or unconscious, seek immediate advanced medical care. Wound care is standard, so – for the blistering wound – appropriate therapy is a topical antiseptic (such as silver sulfadiazene cream or bacitracin ointment) and daily dressing changes. A scorpionfish sting often takes weeks or months to heal, and so requires the attention of a doctor. An antivenin is available to doctors to help manage the sting of the dreaded stonefish.

heavily. However, a swollen brain cannot expand in the constricted space of a bony skull so, in turn, the swelling can cause compression of the brain and eventually lead to partial neurological deficits, if not complete neurological loss of control or loss of consciousness. This sometimes develops with some delay after the actual incident. If under water, it can lead to permanent disability or be fatal.



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Tec for 2018 and summer sales

Micronesia double act


Manta Bay Resort and Yap Divers is offering an interesting combo trip that pairs two highly rated Micronesian destinations, Palau and Yap, offering more than 100 dive-sites between them, with “guaranteed big animals”, wrecks and visits to shark and manta ray sanctuaries. You get 23 dives over a 14night trip with a week on each island, diving with Palau Diving Adventures (with a choice of six hotels there) as well as Yap Divers. Prices start from US $2704pp depending on season and hotel/room choice (flights excluded).


Foreseeing demand next year, blue o two is offering two new dedicated one-week technical-diving safaris with Red Sea TDI facility Tekstreme Diving. These are “Best of Tec Wrecks” aboard Red Sea Adventurer from 13 April (£1279pp) and “Rocky & the ss Maidan” on blue Horizon from 31 August (£1549). The trips will feature wrecks such as the Colona IV (above) and of course the Maidan (right) and are said to be designed to cater for all levels from entry-level technical diving to depths of 100m-plus. Back in the here and now, the “Worldwide Summer Sale” launched by blue o two, Master Liveaboards

and the Siren Fleet continues, with claimed savings of more than £1000pp up for grabs on exotic liveaboard trips. Destinations include French Polynesia (from £2561), Galapagos (£3410), Truk Lagoon (£1474), Palau (£2140), Fiji (£2035) and Indonesian (£2208) J ROCHESTE and Philippines (£1692) hotspots. There are also group booking deals – book five spaces on Worldwide Summer Sale destinations


(except Galapagos and some Truk holidays), and get a sixth free. Prices exclude flights.


ALIWAL SHOALS PLUS CAPE CAGE-DIVING Diverse Travel has opened an office in South Africa so that it can represent its clients on the ground, saying it is the only UK tour operator to have done so, and is offering a range of diving itineraries along with inland wildlife experiences. Introductory offers available to book until 30 September include the nine-night “Aliwal Shoal Diving & Cape Town Explorer” for £1720pp (two sharing). The price includes return Emirates flights (into Durban and out of Cape Town), six nights’ full board at the Blue Ocean Resort, Umkomaas, six Aliwal Shoal reef dives and two baited shark dives, airport transfers, Durban to Cape Town flight, three days’ Cape Town car hire, three nights’ B&B at the Rouge on Rose Boutique Hotel and taxes. Further offers on the website.

8 south-africa


Looking ahead a little to winter, if the Red Sea is on your radar Ultimate Diving is packaging coral-reef diving from Marsa Alam in southern Egypt, with well-known locations such as Elphinstone, Sha’ab Samadai and Abu Dabab in its sights. The tour operator says it is offering liveaboard and resort packages on selected dates from £720pp including flights, accommodation, transfers and diving. If you can’t wait for winter and would prefer some Coral Triangle action, Ultimate is offering until the end of September seven-night trips to the Philippines’ Atlantis Resorts. Prices are from £1399 for Dumaguete (which also gives access to Apo Island) and £1355 for Puerto Galera (and Verde Island). Packages include full-board accommodation, transfers and unlimited daily boat-diving – flights are not included.


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Jordi gets set to advise ‘everyday people’


Emperor Divers is repeating last year’s free photo advice trips with Spanish underwater photographer Jordi Chias, designed “for everyday people with everyday cameras” on selected Red Sea and Maldives liveaboard sailings. Red Sea dates are in November from 3-10 on Emperor Elite (£1006pp) and 9-16 on Asmaa (£860), sailing a “Simply the Best” itinerary. The Maldives dates are in December, from 3-10 on Orion (£1462pp) and 10-17 on Serenity (£2548), both covering a “Best of Maldives” route.


…or make for manta motherlode Milaidhoo Island Maldives opened last November in Baa, and while the atoll is known as a leading location for spotting manta rays year-round, the prime season is between June and November, when the rays can be counted in their hundreds. The resort has its own house reef and a resident marine biologist, and is only a 12-minute speedboat ride from the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at Hanifaru Bay, which it describes as “the biggest manta feeding station in the world”.

The Ocean Stories Aquatic Centre at Milaidhoo is said to have identified several secret diving spots outside the snorkelling-only marine reserve so that guests can also enjoy manta encounters on scuba, and Milaidhoo, which has 50 villas, is offering a 25% discount on stays until the end of September. Rates start from US $1024 a night for half-board in a Water Pool Villa (two sharing).

Sample the Costa Calida The Costa Cálida in the Murcia region of southern Spain is proud of its wide range of watersports activities, not least among them scuba-diving at locations such as Mazarrón or Águilas, with underwater caves and grottos and diving attractions such as the small island of El Fraile and the Crag of Cabo Cope. A week in Águilas costs from £222pp, says the tourist board, based on B&B accommodation for two sharing at the 3* El Paso in a “lively area” not far from the beach. The region is served by Murcia-San Javier (BA now operates a twiceweekly summer service) and Alicante airports, with flights from £26 one way (if you plan to come back it may cost a little more!).



NAUTILUS INTO GUADALUPE – AND ISRAEL October and November is the best time to visit Guadalupe Island off Mexico if you want to see the “big momma” reproductively successful great white sharks, says Nautilus, which offers five nights and “virtually unlimited” full-on cage-diving from the Belle Amie

liveaboard at that time. Prices start from US $2695 (note that’s three sharing). Meanwhile Nautilus is getting well behind the Silence of the Sharks initiative in Israel, also in October (18), when the plan is for 500 divers to take to the sea

together to protest about sharkfinning and perhaps set a Guinness World Record. Nautilus is sponsoring $1800 gift certificates for divers to travel to Eilat to shout out for the sharks – details on its website.



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The G2 is successor to the groundbreaking Galileo computer. Can it possibly be as intuitive as Scubapro claims? MIKE WARD sets out to dive it without benefit of manual


SCUBAPRO G2 THE ORIGINAL SCUBAPRO GALILEO SOL was the first dive-computer to integrate gasconsumption and workload, as measured by your heart-rate, into the decompression plan it provided. Now Scubapro has further developed the concept, and included a range of technical and practical improvements into the new G2. On the technical front, the G2 uses the Buhlmann ZHL-16 ADT MB PMG algorithm, which models more tissue compartments than the ZHL-8 of the Sol, permits you to programme in more gases for use in your dive, supports rebreather and sidemount diving, has a rechargeable battery that doesn’t need you to open up the case to charge, and has a fullcolour screen. The G2 offers divers a single instrument that Scubapro says will develop with you, from recreational diving with a single cylinder of air to closed-circuit rebreather using trimix and multiple bail-out cylinders, without needing to buy extra software keys or dealer-enabled upgrades. If that isn’t enough, the unit continues to feature gas-integration, gas-usage and heartrate monitoring, temperature-monitoring and a digital compass among a list of features so long that it’s hard to know where to start a sensible

Scubapro G2 in its case with optional add-ons.



review. And yet Scubapro claims that the unit is so simple and intuitive to set up and use that you don’t need an instruction book, so it doesn't supply one. There’s a get-you-started quick guide, but you’ll need to download the full instruction book from the Internet if you want it.

Getting Started Without so much as a glance at the Quick Start guide, I unzipped the neatly fitted case and got stuck in. Scubapro had sent me the G2 with heart-rate monitor and a single pressure transmitter to attach to a first stage, plus the USB charger cable that also permits you to download dives. This is the top kit in the G2 line. If you prefer, you can buy the computer on its own, computer plus transmitter, or the full set. I lifted out the computer, removed the protective blue film from the display and pressed the three buttons above the screen one after the other. The right-hand button turned the unit on and I was asked to set up the language to display (English), the units to use (metric), and the time zone, which turned out to be different from setting the date and time. I found myself looking at a screen packed with information. The surface display shows a variety of useful data and is easy to read. At the top of the screen the three buttons are labelled Menu, Log and Light (the right button might be labelled Dim if the light is already on, but you get the idea). I found that pressing each button does exactly what you’d expect it to do. There was no point pressing the Log button as the log was empty, but I gave it a go anyway. The real action was in Menu, which is where you go to make changes and set up the computer, and the G2 stays user-friendly despite the range of things you can fiddle with. Sorry, I meant customise to match

your preferences. In fact, despite being so far below the technological event horizon that it’s still 1983 in my head, I managed to change, personalise, customise and generally set up the computer to monitor singletank, multiple-tank, trimix and CCR dives in about 20 minutes from opening the case. If I can do it, so can you. Say you want to dive on nitrox 32. Press the left of the three buttons to open the settings menu, use the left and middle buttons to scroll up or down until you get to “O2 Setting”, and press the right button to enter the sub-menu. Use the left or middle buttons to adjust the oxygen fraction to 32%, and confirm the setting with a short press of the right button. A long press returns you to the surface screen, which will confirm the 32% setting and show you your

Surface display of a single-tank air dive.

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Dive display single gas Nx32. maximum depth for that gas. The G2 assumes a maximum PO2 of 1.4 bar out of the box, but you can customise that if you feel the need. It’s nearly as quick to do as it is to read, and though you will find yourself making a long press when you need a short one, and the other way round, you’ll work it out in no time. Those buttons you’ve been pressing are very well thought-out. They’re big and far enough apart to press easily even with gloves on, and they need enough pressure over a reasonable length of travel to make them hard to press by accident, which is just what you need. It sounds like a small thing, but it isn’t in real life when you’re depending on the instrument for your safe return to the surface, and it shows that the designers know what they’re about.

Gases & Integration If you want to dive on trimix or with a rebreather the G2 remains your friend, though you’ll need to enable these in one menu and then turn them on in a different one, which is confusing and the one point where the intuitive thing isn’t so great – and where I had to admit defeat and download the full instruction book. The G2 can be set to use as many as eight gases on a single dive. Why you’d consider more than three or four I’m not sure, but knock yourself out, it’s your dive. Setting up the tank-pressure monitor is easy – just screw the transmitter into an appropriate port on your first stage, or get the dealer to do it, match the transmitter and computer so that they can talk to one another and you’re set. Do that for each separate tank you carry and the G2 will allow you to monitor them all as you dive, and take your gas consumption and the water temperature into account when it calculates your deco. At this point you’ll be relieved to hear that the

Dive-planner screen for trimix CCR.

display changes to a much simpler read-out under water, with nice big numbers for those of us who find our arms growing shorter as we age. It’s as intuitive to read as the unit is to set up. If you’re using more than one gas, the G2 assumes that the gas with the lowest oxygen content will be the one with which you start the dive, and then prompts you to switch to other gases on ascent. If you’re on a rebreather you’ll need to set shallow and deep setpoints and the G2 will assume that you start Digital compass. on the shallow setpoint, ask you to confirm the switch to the deep setpoint on descent, then confirm Scubapro heart-rate monitor. the switch back on ascent. If you need to bail out, you switch gases using a combination of buttonpresses to select the appropriate bail-out gas for your current depth. Miss a switch, and the G2 will recalculate your deco on the fly using the other programmed gases. That decompression programme has been but if you were to upload a plan of the dive-site developed with more than a nod to the latest or the wreck you could access it on the dive if thinking on the importance of microbubbles as you were a bit unsure of where you were. a predictor of potential deco incidents, so the G2 What else? Lots of smart technical stuff, to tell allows you to set an additional personal safety the truth, but more down to earth are a clear margin by altering the micro-bubble setting, protective film for the screen to prevent from level zero, L0, which has no additional scratching, and the strap. padding, to level nine, L9, the most conservative This is a chunky affair with a substantial setting. It will also add intermediate stops if it buckle, but if you prefer you can remove it and calculates them to be necessary, taking into use the lugs at each of the four corners to thread account all the factors it can measure. through some bungee cord instead. I like both those lo-tec features – they’re a practical and thoughtful piece of design that shows that real divers have been involved in the development of the product. Lawks, I haven’t yet mentioned the heart-rate All in all I’m minded of The Lord of the Rings monitor! This factors your heart rate into the and the bit about “One ring to rule them all”, decompression calculations as necessary to except here it’s “One computer to suit them all”, compensate for those times when you get all and almost without an instruction book. excited or a bit nervous. It fits around your chest I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this on an elastic strap, and is depth-rated to 60m for computer can do. It is a hugely complex and use under a wetsuit. capable piece of kit that’s been well designed Then there is the digital compass, which is and is as simple to use as Scubapro promises. ■ bright and easy to follow, and works pretty well regardless of how you have the computer tilted. And there’s more, such as the option to put some personal medical information into the unit. If your day turns out badly, knowing your PRICES8 Computer £665, with gas-pressure transmitter £829, with transmitter and medical history might make all the difference. heart-rate monitor £899 The charging cable doesn’t require you to open a port on the computer, so you can’t leave WEIGHT8200g the battery-compartment open and drown it. COLOUR8 Black You can use the same cable to load pictures CONTACT8 onto your computer to look at under water. DIVER GUIDE ★★★★★★★★★✩ I know, that sounded gimmicky to me as well,

Other Features


Surface display screen for trimix CCR.

Dive display screen for trimix CCR.




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BARE AQUATREK MY REGULAR POST-LADY HANDED OVER the box, telling me that it was too light to be diving equipment, and as soon as I took it from her I knew exactly what she meant. We were both wrong. Inside the box was a bag, and inside the bag was a BARE Aquatrek drysuit. At just under 2.6kg, not including the direct-feed hose, the Aquatrek doesn’t weigh much more than a 5mm wetsuit. Not surprisingly, BARE has the travelling diver firmly front of mind for the Aquatrek, hence the name. Home or abroad, however, a drysuit is only any good if it’s well-made, built to last, fits properly and keeps you dry. I wasn’t going to be able to check on the keeping-me-dry thing in my kitchen, but every other box looked to be nicely ticked right from the off. The materials looked good, the seams were neat, the seals appeared well-fitted and the front-mounted zip was smooth and low-profile.

The Design Time for a first try-on, and I’ll tell you now that this suit was as easy to get into as any I’ve ever worn and, once on, the fit was very good. I’d picked it using BARE’s sizing guide and it fitted me at least as well as some made-tomeasure suits I’ve had in the past. Don’t read too much into that, we’re all different shapes and you may not be as fortunate as I was, but when you buy a new suit BARE can alter arm and leg length if required, so you should be able to get a suit that fits without any problems. Getting out of the suit was a bit more of a struggle, but only because the standard latex wrist-seals are a generous length and were nice and tight. A quick squirt of lube got the job done. The suit is made from a four-layered fabric that BARE calls Cordura Nylon Oxford and says makes it durable, breathable and lighter than traditional trilaminate materials, with a degree of flexibility to allow you to move around easily on the boat and under water. The seams are kept neat and low-profile so

that they don’t catch or wear, and additional taping is applied to seams that flex the most. The standard suit is supplied with what BARE calls Tech boots, which are what I think of as traditional drysuit neoprene boots but, once again, if that doesn’t float your boat you can specify either a different type of boot or soft socks. Ankle-straps allow you to pull the legs tight to keep air migration to a minimum and help prevent your boots popping off your feet, although in use I never felt that this was likely, straps or not, and if your suit fits properly neither will you. The knees are protected by a large panel with the BARE name embossed down the front and backed by a lovely 2mm neoprene pad that made kneeling down more comfortable when I’d dropped my reel, which had rolled under the seat and I couldn’t quite reach it. The upper torso and the lower part of the suit telescope together and are held in place by a crotch-strap adjustable enough to get the job done without getting all personal. Standardfitting internal braces mean that you can don the lower half of the suit and wander around looking appropriately cool until it’s time to kit up properly. The standard zipper is plastic, lightweight and with a nicely sized T-handle to pull it closed. It runs from your upper left shoulder across and down to your right hip, and you can close the zip all the way yourself. This suit is fully self-donning. Other zip options are available if you feel you need them. Valves are branded BARE but made by SiTech, with the inlet valve a little to the right of centre of your chest and the auto-dump slightly to the front of centre of your left arm. You can have the valves placed elsewhere if you prefer. Latex wrist-seals and a neoprene neck-seal were fitted to the review suit, but you can specify neoprene wrist- or latex neck-seal, or go for cuff-rings for dry-gloves and a ring system for the neck-seal. You can also have a Trigon pee-valve fitted.

In Use Topside

Aquatrek wrist-seal.



The suit was as easy to put on over a mediumweight Thinsulate undersuit as it had been over shorts and a T-shirt, and there was enough room in the fit to add a base-layer for winter without the suit being in any way baggy. Being able to pull the zip closed myself was great. Don’t ask me why, it was just loads better

than getting my buddy to do it for me. Talking about the zip, zipping a zipper so that it’s closed doesn’t seem like much of a challenge, but there’s something you need to know about this zipper. Look at the closed end and you’ll see a hard plastic U-shaped dock. As you pull the slider across and down it seems to reach the end of its travel and stop, but you’ll then need to pull it just a little further to make sure the slider goes fully home. If you don’t, your drysuit will not be dry and your day will not be as much fun. It’s an error you’ll make only once. Anyway, there’s a distinct feel to the zip closing fully that you’ll soon get used to. The neoprene neck-seal was a decent length, long enough to fold into place and provide a good seal. On me it felt tight enough to work effectively when settled in place, but not so tight that it was hard to pull over my head. Another win. I was liking this suit more and more. Movement on land was fine, with enough

DIVER Tests September.qxp_Layout 1 27/07/2017 13:00 Page 85

DIVER TESTS wearing the right underclothing to test that properly, so all I can say is that in the hundred metres-or-so walk to the water’s edge fully kitted with stage and camera, I didn’t get all sweaty on what was a warm, muggy day.

Under Water

Inlet-valve and zipper. flexibility to make kitting up very straightforward. Putting on my BC, bending to rinse out my mask and pulling on my fins were all easy, and there was plenty of movement to make clipping on a stage feel comfortable without any strain or tightness. The suit is said to be breathable, but I wasn’t

In the water the Aquatrek allowed me to adopt a nice horizontal trim without any fuss. The inlet valve was smooth and precise in operation, and the dump-valve worked very nicely. I found that keeping the dump racked fully open and then rolling just a little left-sidehigh dumped air in a controlled fashion, though I think a different strategy might be required on a deeper sea-dive. It usually is. As it was, within seconds of hitting the water I’d forgotten that I was wearing a new suit and was concentrating on what I was looking at. That’s pretty high praise, because the normally abundant Ellerton perch had clearly decided on a duvet day. Not that I blamed them. The day was grey and drizzly and overcast despite it being warm, and a few days of heavy rain had reduced the vis to a metre or less. Swimming was easy, and I was able to move as freely as I had on land, perhaps more so. Experimenting a bit, I found that I could do the GUE arms-forward or the dive-guide arms-folded positions with equal ease. I’m sure I’d have had no trouble operating my camera if there had been anything to photograph.

Boot and ankle-strap.

Conclusion Post-dive, I was bone-dry. You remember that Bond movie in which Sean Connery peels off his suit to reveal an immaculate white tux? This suit felt as if I could have done that, and subsequent dives were equally dry and pleasant. I liked everything about this suit and felt it did the job it was designed to do. ■

SPECS PRICES8 £945 including backpack and inflator hose but no hood SIZES8 7, S-3XL plus customisation at extra cost WEIGHT8 2.6kg CONTACT8 DIVER GUIDE ★★★★★★★★★✩


BEUCHAT AQUABIONIC FINS EXIST TO TRANSLATE your muscle power into forward motion as efficiently as possible, but in a marketplace crammed with different styles and designs any new product needs to have immediate impact if it’s to get a second look from prospective purchasers. Beuchat sent me a pair of its new Aquabionics to try, and these fins certainly stand out. As soon as I pulled them out of their supplied protective bag I knew that they were the real deal. You know, proper fins that’ll hang off the ends of your legs and give you the driving power of a train, but still look ice-cool and as modern as tomorrow.

It didn’t hurt that Beuchat had sent me a pair in an eye-searing yellow, either. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but I liked ’em. Other

colours are available if you’re concerned about looking a bit too bold, but these are not fins for shrinking violets. ☛



DIVER Tests September.qxp_Layout 1 27/07/2017 13:00 Page 86

DIVER TESTS The Design The foot-pockets were long and deep enough to accommodate my full drysuit-booted foot and the spring heel-straps pulled up to hold the fins firmly in place. The straps are adjustable over a range of 7cm – just rotate one end of the fin-strap until it’s sticking up at 90° to the fin, push down to unclip and remove the end of the strap from the fin, then screw the endpiece in or out until you get to the right length. It’s quicker and easier to do than to explain. Seen from above, the foot-pocket curves in and then the fin blade curves out. The moulding uses black polymer, so you see an upright Yshape with a thick foot, and the branches of the Y form what Beuchat calls a double hinge. The polymer of the branches is deeply incised top and bottom, so you have a thinner centre section where the blade as a whole can pivot.

react to both the effort you put into each stroke and the style in which you fin. Basically, each time you fin the resistance of the water causes the blade to flex down and form a scoop, holding a volume of water that is forced to the rear as the blade returns to its original form. The shape of the fins ensures that the water is always pushed backwards and isn’t allowed to spill uselessly out of the side. The harder you fin, the more water is moved and the more you move, and the more gently you fin, the less you move. Beuchat also says that the design makes the fins equally effective whether used with the BSAC-approved swing-from-the-hips scissorkick, a frog-kick or even when back-finning. It even goes so far as to claim that the Aquabionics are the most efficient fins in the world, and suggests that they’ll reduce your gas consumption while providing day-long comfort.

In Use

The yoke. The front of the foot-pocket has vents on the bottom and top so that the fins aren’t held to your foot post-dive, and you can avoid all that embarrassing hopping about as you try to get them off your feet. Further down, the blade becomes a reasonably standard shape but is formed from three grades of polymer. The sides are upright to stop the blades slipping sideways through the water and thereby wasting some of your precious muscle-power.

And how does the hyperbole compare to the real world? Pretty well, actually. I don’t know if these really are the best or most efficient fins in the world, but they’re darn good in the water. Putting them on was easy, and the big fingertabs made the straps easy to seat and remove. Even in a midwinter quarry your numb fingers should be OK here. Striding confidently into the water, I quickly discovered that the fins’ weight was nicely judged for horizontal trim in a drysuit. Then, using the leg-waggling action that I like to call a frog-kick, I found that they pushed me, my drysuit, rebreather and a pair of bail-outs through the water very nicely, thank you. When I switched to the full-on, big-licks scissor-kick I was covering a surprising amount of distance in not very long at all. They even worked when I did the ankle-waggling minikicks that I use when not disturbing the vis is more important than making rapid progress. Finally, back-finning and helicopter turns, and the Aquabionics got the job done there as well. As far as downsides go, I don't have much to report. The tab at the back of the strap is a solid, hard block that rubbed the back of my heels a bit toward the end of a long dive, and that’s it.

Conclusion I’ve given the Aquabionic fins a cautious nine stars, but next time we do a proper side-by-side comparison test I wouldn’t be surprised if they were at the top of the heap – in which case I’d revise it up to the full 10. ■ Adjusting the fin-strap.

The side profile.



The outer portions of the blades are of a hard material that can flex and spring back into shape, and the centre-section is a clear and much softer polymer that can form into a channel to scoop water where you want it to go. Beuchat calls the result Water Adapting Responsive Propulsion technology, or WARP for short, all very Star Trek, and claims that the fins

SPECS PRICE8 £129 SIZES8S, M-L, XL WEIGHT8 3kg/pair COLOURS8 All black, blue and black, black with pink, red or yellow CONTACT8

DIVER GUIDE ★★★★★★★★★✩

087_DIVER_0917.qxp_DIVER_2017 31/07/2017 10:32 Page 087

Designed using our most advanced technical materials and construction methods and purpose-built in partnership with a team of cave/technical divers, the X-MIssion is the perfect drysuit for the advanced technical diver or for the recreational diver who wants the best.


JUST SURFACED September.qxp_Layout 1 27/07/2017 09:40 Page 88

NEW BUT The latest kit to hit the dive shops

Bigblue AL-1200NP Light 5555 With an XML LED light source and four output levels from 1201200 lumens and an 8° spot beam, this dive-light has a claimed burntime of two hours on full brightness (and up to 20 hours on the lowest output). It has a double O-ring seal, battery-level indicator and a 100m depth-rating, and costs £125. 8

Aquaprop Scooter 5555 Sea & Sea is now UK distributor for the compact and lightweight Aquaprop underwater scooter, which is 56cm long and weighs in at 6kg. It has two speeds and can be controlled with one or two hands, says Sea & Sea, adding that the low weight and ni-mh batteries make it easy to take on a flight. Runtimes are 75 or 50min depending on speed with a nine-hour recharging time, but there is also a li-ion battery-powered Aquaprop L that gives longer runtimes of 200 and 120min and a six-hour recharge. Max operating depth is 80m, and the scooter with charger costs £1700 – or £2300 for the L version. 8

Bigblue VL 15000P Pro Mini Tri Colour 4444 Liquid Sports says of the VL 15000P video light: “Never in the history of underwater photography has a light this size and weight produced such amount of light without external battery-pack”. That sounds Churchillian enough, but now we’re offered a Pro Mini Tri Colour version, with light provided by 32 XML LEDs and eight XPE red LEDs. There are four output levels from 3750 to 15000 lumens (red light 1000 lumens) and a 160° spot beam. Colour temperature is 6500K (cool light) and 5500K (warm). With a claimed burntime of 2-8 hours, the double O-ring-sealed light has a battery-level indicator and comes with a rechargeable li-ion battery and charger. Price is £1100. 8

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Limited Edition Watches 3333 Reassuringly designed for depths down to 600m, Christopher Ward has introduced limited-edition models of its C60 Trident Pro COSC and C60 Trident Day Date COSC diver watches. Characterised by a monochrome look with touches of red, both timepieces have white wave-pattern dials with luminous hands and indices, red highlights and a red second hand with signature Trident counterbalance. The shatterproof zirconia black bezel has a fulldetail minute marker ring, and a luminous pip in a red triangle at 12 o'clock. Prices start at £860. 8

Divesangha DS Dry Garments 4444 How do you get dry quickly and comfortably after leaving the water? Divesangha addresses this “pain-point” with three new microfibre products to add to the Poncho (£50), its existing lightweight changing robe.Yoga-matsized DS Dry Towels (£30) come with a bag and are lightweight and useful for photographers too, says the maker. The other two items are meant for females – a Kaftan (£45) designed to be worn over dry or wet swimwear, and a Hair Towel (£22). All use Divesangha’s Hung Dry system of easy attachment to allow them to dry quickly in the breeze on a boat. A free dry-bag comes with your first order. 8 divEr


JUST SURFACED September.qxp_Layout 1 27/07/2017 09:41 Page 89

JUST SURFACED Typhoon Vision Mask 6666 This twin-lens, low-volume mask with silicon skirt is designed for female faces and those of junior divers. A simple strapadjustment system makes it easy to don, adjust and take off even under water, says Typhoon. It costs £35. 8 typhoon-int.

Suex XJ VR Scooter 6666

Scubapro UPF Collection Rash-Guards & Steamer 4444 All of Scubapro’s UPF rash-guard collection is rated UPF 50 or above, which means “Excellent” category protection from the sun. The T-Flex rashguards go beyond 50 and are rated UPF 80, which is about as protective as it gets. They cost from £44. The suits are made of polyester or a nylon/Spandex blend for its stretch qualities, with details including nonabrasive seams and high necklines. UPF 50 Rash Guards cost from £31, the Channel Flow quick-drying rash-guard from £49 and the Steamer from £79. 8

The Submarine Exploration Co was founded in 1999 with the goal, it says, of building “a high-performance technical-diving vehicle for all diving professionals and applications, long-range exploration diving, technical and deep diving, as well as the Navy’s many applications”. Quite a mission statement, and today Suex claims to be “undisputed leader” of the DPV market. Its new XJ VR model is rated to 100m and has a runtime of 2.5 hours, and it reckons the £1995 price-tag opens the market to a new level of performance and accessibility “for 99% of divers’ budgets”. Does that include you? 8

NEXT ISSUE Black Magic Night-dives bookend a prime Philippines location

Missing in Action A WW2 bomber wreck gives up its secrets in Croatia

Too Many Fish? Who’s complaining? Heavy action in the Maldives


TRUK STOP For many divers the Micronesian hotspot represents the peak of wreck-diving. This two-part feature will feed your passion…

The Invincible Story After 260 years, a Portsmouth wreck comes back to life



090_DIVER_0917.qxp_DIVER_2017 31/07/2017 10:36 Page 090

352'8&75(&$// )25$//688172:,5(/(667$1.35(6685( 75$160,77(56$1'6881727$1.32'6

688172 7$1.32'

‡ Suunto Tank POD has a black coneshaped plastic case with SUUNTO TANK POD, MADE IN FINLAND printed in gray color on the case and a transparent plastic base. ‡ Size: diameter 4 cm, length 8 cm. ‡ Manufactured since 2013.

688172 WIRELESS 7$1.35(6685( 75$160,77(5 ‡ Suunto Wireless Tank Pressure Transmitter has a black cone-shaped plastic case – with SUUNTO, FINLAND printed on top of the case. ‡ The old model has a black plastic base. The new model has a transparent plastic base with a LED light. ‡ Size: diameter 4 cm, length 8 cm. ‡ Manufactured since 2003.

'LYHUVDIHW\LVRIKLJKHVWLPSRUWDQFHWR6XXQWR:HKDYHLGHQWLÂżHGDSRWHQWLDOVDIHW\ ULVNDIIHFWLQJDOO6XXQWR7UDQVPLWWHUVDQG7DQN32'VDQGWKHUHIRUHUHFDOODOOSURGXFWV above for inspection and upgrade. In two reported incidents, the exterior case of a Suunto Wireless Tank Pressure Transmitter has failed during regular dry land pressure testing. Although extremely rare, this represents a potential risk of injury, due to the risk of bursting.

If you own an above mentioned product: Do not dive with the affected product until it has been upgraded. Bring your product to the nearest authorized Suunto dive dealer for a free inspection and upgrade. Suunto will provide a battery replacement free of charge and \RXFDQDSSO\IRUDone-year warranty from the date of inspection for all upgraded products. :HVLQFHUHO\DSRORJL]HIRUWKHLQFRQYHQLHQFHDQGWKDQN\RXIRU\RXUFRRSHUDWLRQ )RUIXUWKHULQIRUPDWLRQSOHDVHYLVLWZZZVXXQWRFRPUHFDOO &RQWDFW6XXQWR'LYLQJ8.E\HPDLOLQIR#VXXQWRGPFRXNRUE\ phone: The UK’s #1 Diving Website • latest news • competitions • great prizes • UK boat spaces • FREE personal ads • holiday offers • and much more

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LANZAROTE SAFARI DIVING LANZAROTE Playa Chica, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote. Tel: (00 34) 625 059713, (00 34) 928 511992. E-mail: English owned, award-winning dive centre. Approved by the MoD – one of only 10 dive centres worldwide! BSAC, SSI and PADI dive school. Open every day of the year. Daily pleasure shore, boat and night dives – all same price. Great deals for groups, universities and the solo diver.

Myrra Complex, 1 Poseidonos Avenue, Marina Court 44-46, Kato Paphos. Tel: (00 357) 26 934271. Fax: (00 357) 26 939680. E-mail: PADI 5* CDC. First Career Development Centre in Cyprus and Eastern Mediterranean.

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PHILIPPINES THRESHER SHARK DIVERS Malapascua Island, Daanbantayan, Cebu 6013. Tel: (00 63) 927 612 3359. E-mail: British, PADI 5* IDC, IANTD.

MALAYSIA BORNEO, SABAH THE REEF DIVE RESORT (Mataking Island), TB212, Jalan Bunga, Fajar Complex, 91000 Tawau, Sabah. Tel: (00 60) 89 786045. Fax: (00 60) 89 770023. E-mail: PADI 5* Dive Resort.


DIVE POINT Parmenionos St. No4, Tombs of the Kings Rd, Kato Paphos, Cyprus 8045. Tel/fax: (00 357) 26 938730. E-mail: British BSAC/PADI instructors.


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MALTA (inc. GOZO & COMINO GOZO GOZO AQUA SPORTS Rabat Road, Marsalforn, MFN9014, Gozo, Malta. Tel: (00 356) 2156 3037. E-mail: PADI 5* IDC & DSAT Tec Rec Centre, BSAC Dive Resort. Premier Technical Diving Support Service.

THAILAND PHUKET/SIMILANS SHARKEY SCUBA 363/10 Patak Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100. Tel: (00 66) (0)89 725 1935, (00 66) (0)86 892 2966. E-mail: Fun and smiles with Sharkey, the British company with the personal touch.

PAPHOS/PISSOURI CYPRUS DIVING ADVENTURES Makedonias 40, Shop 1, Pissouri Village, 4607. Tel: (00 357) 97 661046. E-mail: PADI 5*. TDI. UK trained professionals.

CYPRUS LARNACA RECOMPRESSION CHAMBER 24/7 professionally manned and fully computerised, privately owned and operated 14-man recompression chamber, internationally approved and the DAN Preferred Provider for the island. If in doubt … SHOUT! Poseidonia Medical Centre, 47a Eleftherias Avenue, Aradippou, Larnaca 7102, Cyprus. 24hr Emergency Dive Line: +357 99 518837. E-mail:





The Waters Edge, Mellieha Bay Hotel, Mellieha MLH 02. Tel: (00 356) 2152 2141 Fax: (00 356) 2152 1053 PADI 5* Gold Palm. Watersports available.

9/21 Moo 2, Mae Haad, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Surat Thani, Thailand 84280. Tel: (00 66) 77 456126. Mob: (00 66) 79 700913. E-mail: Recreational, reef, tech, deep, wreck.



Mirabello Hotel, Agios Nikolaos, P.O. Box 100, P.C. 72 100. Tel/fax: (00 30) 28410 22406. Mob: (00 30) 6945 244434, (00 30) 6944 126846. E-mail: IANTD Nitrox training. Groups, individuals & dive clubs welcome.

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FREE OF CHARGE. (Max 25 words). Non-commercial clubs, no sales. Active and friendly BSAC club. All year diving in local lake. New and qualified divers of all agencies welcome. Own clubhouse with 7m RIB and compressor. For further information visit (64403) Alfreton (Derbys) BSAC 302. Welcomes new members and qualified divers. A small but active club with own RIB, wreck diving a speciality. Contact Charlie on (01246) 236328. (68370) Banbury SAC. Friendly, active club with weekly meetings and training sessions, own boat, compressor and equipment. Welcome divers/non-divers. or call 07787 097 289. (69308) Bracknell Sub Aqua Club welcomes new and experienced divers from all agencies. Meets poolside at Bracknell Sports Centre, Thursdays from 8.30pm. Diving, training and social calendar: or tel: 07951 855 725. (65792) Braintree Riverside Sub Aqua Club based in Braintree, Essex. A friendly club, we welcome divers of all abilities and have an active diving and social programme. Come and join us! email: (69397) Bristol Scuba Club meets at Kingswood Leisure Centre, BS16 4HR, every Friday, 8pm - 10pm. Diver access to a large pool. or call: 07811 374944. (63812) Bromley/Lewisham Active divers required. Full programme of hardboat diving throughout the year. Check out Nekton SAC or contact Jackie (01689) 850130. (68537) Buckingham Dive Centre. A small friendly club welcoming all divers and those wanting to learn. We dive throughout the year and run trips in the UK and abroad. www.stowe Tel: Roger 07802 765366. (69433) Chelmsford and District SAC meet at 8pm every Friday at Riverside Pool. New and qualified divers are welcome. See our website for details: (68620) Cockleshell Divers, Portsmouth, Hants. Small, friendly club welcomes new and experienced divers from all agencies. Meets at Cockleshell Community Centre, Fridays at 8pm. Email: (64762) Colchester Sub-Aqua Club welcomes experienced divers and beginners. Sub-Aqua Association training. Diving at home and abroad. Meets at Leisure World Friday evenings. Contact Tony (01787) 475803. (68263) Cotswold BSAC, a friendly club based at Brockworth Pool, Nr Cheltenham, Fridays 8pm. Regular inland diving and coast trips. Tel: 07711 312078. (68577) Chingford, London BSAC 365. Friendly and active club welcomes divers from all agencies and trainees. Meet Wednesday 8pm, Larkswood Leisure Centre E4 9EY. Information: Email: loughton (69208) Darlington Dolphins Sub Aqua Club, small friendly BSAC/PADI, open to new and experienced divers. Meet Friday night in Dolphin Centre at 8.30. Tel: 07773 075631 or email (72665)

Classified page 94-95_09.qxp_Classified LHP 02/08/2017 15:34 Page 95

CLASSIFIED ADS Darwen SAC, in Lancashire, with an active diving programme. Own RIB. new members welcome regardless of agency/training. We provide BSAC training. Weekly pool sessions. (69161) Eastern Sub Aqua Club SAA 1073. We are a small friendly dive club and welcome new and experienced divers alike. We are situated north of Norwich for training. For more information please see out website: (65879) Dream Divers. Very friendly dive club in Rotherham welcomes divers of any level/club. Meet at the Ring O Bells, Swinton, last Thursday of the month at 19.30. Email: (69699) Ealing SAC, BSAC 514. Friendly, active club, own RIBs; welcomes new and experienced divers. Meets Highgrove Pool, Eastcote, Tuesday nights 8.30pm. (68413) East Cheshire Sub Aqua. Macclesfield based BSAC club. Purpose-built clubhouse, bar, two RIBs, minibus, nitrox, compressor. Lower Bank Street, Macclesfield, SK11 7HL. Tel: 01625 502367. (65609) East Durham Divers SAA welcome new/experienced divers of any agency. Comprehensive facilities with own premises half a mile from the sea. Contact: John: 07857 174125. (68663) East Lancs Diving Club based in Blackburn. Friendly, active club welcomes new members at all levels of diving from all organisations. Tel: 07784 828961 or email: ELDC@ (69411) Eastbourne BSAC; RIB, Banked air (free) to 300bar, Nitrox, Trimix. Enjoy some of the best diving on the South Coast, all qualifications welcome. (65695) Ellon Sub Aqua Club, Aberdeenshire, welcomes newcomers and experienced divers. We dive year round and meet on Thursday evenings. Contact (65523) Fife Scuba Divers Tel: 07575 372575. SAA Club No203. Meetings: Thu 19.30, 81 East Way, Hillend, KY11 9JF. Training Club, Crossovers welcome. (72380) Flintshire Sub Aqua Club based in Holywell, Flintshire, welcomes new and experienced divers from all agencies. Full dive programme. Meet Wednesdays. See us at or call 01352 731425. (64293) Hartford Scuba BSAC 0522, based in Northwich, Cheshire. A friendly, active diving club. Compressor for air and Nitrox fills. RIB stored in Anglesey. (67287) Hereford Sub Aqua Club, is looking for new members. Regular diving off the Pembrokeshire coast on own RIBs. Training and social nights. Contact: (69146) HGSAC. South Manchester based friendly, non-political club welcomes newcomers and qualified divers. Lots of diving and social events. Family. Three RIBs and compressor. (68501) HUGSAC - BSAC 380. Experienced club, based around Hertfordshire, with RIB on the South coast. Members dive with passion for all underwater exploration. All agencies welcome. (63275) Ifield Divers. Crawley-based club. Twin engine dive boat with stern lift in Brighton Marina.Training for novices, diving for the experienced - all qualifications welcome. Email: or tel: 01883 345146. (64514) Ilkeston & Kimberley SAA 945, between Nottingham and Derby, welcomes beginners and experienced divers. We meet every Friday night at Kimberley Leisure Centre at 8.30pm. Contact through (68559) K2 Divers, covering West Sussex/Surrey. A friendly BSAC club, but all qualifications welcome. Training in Crawley, boat at Littlehampton. Email: or tel: (01293) 612989. (68335) Kingston BSAC, Surrey. Two RIBs , clubhouse and bar, active dive programme, two compressors, Nitrox, Trimix, full training offered at all levels. All very welcome. or tel: 07842 622193. (69176) Lincoln - Imp Divers. Small, friendly, non-political diving club with our own RIB are looking to welcome new and experienced divers. Contact Richard: 07931 170205. (69383) Lincoln and District BSAC. Active club with own RIB, compressor and other facilities. Regular trips and training. (69336) Lincs Divers BSAC 1940. Friendly, active dive club offering dive trips and training for new/experienced divers. Lincoln based. Llantrisant SAC, two RIBs, towing vehicle, welcomes new and experienced divers. Meet at Llantrisant Leisure Centre 8pm Mondays. Contact Phil: (01443) 227667. (68519) Lutterworth Dive Club, active, social, friendly. Own RIB, regular trips. Welcomes qualified divers, any agency. Training at all levels. Most Tuesdays, Lutterworth Sports Centre. (70043) Mansfield and District Scuba Diving Club. Sub Aqua Association - club 942. 8 Beech Avenue, Mansfield, Notts. NG18 1EY. (71643) Leeds based Rothwell & Stanley SAC welcomes new and experienced divers, full SAA training given. Purpose built clubhouse with bar, RIB, compressor. Meet Tuesday evenings: 07738 060567 (69371)

Manta Divers. Norfolk wreck & reef diving. Small, friendly, experienced club. All agencies welcome. SAA training. (64088) Mercian Divers (BSAC 2463) Active & Friendly club. New, experienced & junior divers welcome. Own RIB. Based in Bromsgrove, West Midlands. Tel: 01905 773406 (65391) Millennium Divers. Active, friendly club for all levels and certifications of diver, based in Portland, Dorset. UK diving and holidays. Club social nights (68351) Mole Valley Sub Aqua Club. Surrey based SDI club, own RIB, active diving UK & Abroad, training and social events. Trainees/crossovers welcome. Contact: 07552 498558 or email: (68691) Monastery Dive Club (Dunkerton Branch). New divers welcome to join our club. Trips to Plymouth and NDAC. GSOH is a must. South Wales area (Crosskeys, Risca.) Please text me: Flinty 07971 432803 or email: (65305) Nekton SAC. Based in Bromley, we are a friendly and active SAA Club that welcomes experienced and new divers alike. or call Steve: 020 8467 4599. (68387) Nemo Diving Club. Small friendly dive club offering dive trips and training for non/experienced divers in Retford and surrounding areas. Contact: www.nemodiver (69640) North Glos BSAC 80. Friendly, active club welcomes new and experienced divers. Own boat and equipment with weekly pool sessions, Thursdays, 8.30pm at GL1 Gloucester, (Gloucester Leisure Centre). (68483) North Wales Sub Aqua Club. Llandudno based and open to new and experienced divers. Fun, friendly and active SAA affiliated club. Training every weekend. (70688) Nuneaton. Marlin BSAC welcomes experienced divers to Pingles pool every Thursday. Active training, diving, social programme in a flourishing club with no politics allowed. (69322) Orkney SAC. Small, friendly active dive club, based in Kirkwall, welcomes divers of any level or club. Own RIB and compressor. Contact Craig: 07888 690 986 or email: (69735) Plymouth Sound Dive Club welcomes qualified and experienced guest divers. See www.plymouthdivers. for more information/weekly club notices. Contact relevant dive manager or divingofficer@plymouth to join a dive. (72219) Reading Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC 28). Active, friendly, based Palmer Park. Clubhouse, licenced bar, compressor, 2 RIBs. Club night Thurs, all grades/agencies. Training to Adv Diver +. Tel: Colin 07939 066524. (72402) Richmond (Surrey) SAC welcomes new and experienced divers to join our active diving, training and social calendar. Meet Mondays 8.30pm at Pools on the Park, Richmond. Tel: 07825 166450 (Gemma) or email: (67103) Robin Hood Dive Club. Yorkshire based and one of the most active in the country with a full 2016 calendar of trips. All agencies and grades welcome. No training or pool, just a growing bunch of regular divers. or find us on Facebook. (59245) Rochdale Sub-Aqua Club. Beginners and experienced divers welcome. Full training provided. Pool session every Wednesday. Club has two boats. More info at or call Mick 07951 834 903. (65103) Preston Divers SAA 30. The friendliest dive club. Come and meet us at Fulwood Leisure Centre, Preston on Monday nights between 8.00pm - 9.00pm. (64198) Reading Diving Club. Experience the best of UK diving with a friendly and active club. All welcome. Tel: 01183 216310 or email: (69447) Ruislip & Northwood BSAC. Friendly, active club, RIB, welcomes new and qualified divers. Meets Highgrove Pool Thursday nights 8.30pm. Tel: 07843 738 646 for details. (69469) Scotland Plug Divers. Small, friendly dive club welcomes newly qualified and experienced divers to join us. Regular hardboat diving around Bass Rock/Firth of Forth/ Eyemouth and trips abroad. Tel George: 07793 018 540. Email: (64638) Selby Aquanauts SAA 1117. Family friendly club, welcomes new and qualified divers. Regular trips UK & abroad. Meet every Thursday, Albion Vaults, Selby at 9pm. Contact Mark: 07831 295 655. (69261) Sutton Coldfield SAC, friendly BSAC club, welcomes all divers from trainee to advanced. All agencies. Own RIBs and compressor. Meet every Wednesday, 8.15pm at Wyndley (3.4m pool). For free try dive call Alan: 07970 573638 or Mark: 07787 106191. (64974) Sheffield BSAC36. Friendly, social and active dive club welcomes newcomers or qualified divers. Trips, socials, weekly pool and club/pub meetings, club RIB. See (69191) Slough 491 BSAC; small friendly club welcomes divers at all levels. Meet at Beechwood School Fridays 19.30. Diving holidays and South Coast. Email: or tel: Tony (01344) 884 596. (69722)

The Bath Bubble Club SAA777 seeks new members. New and qualified divers of all agencies welcome. Weekly pool training, every Wednesday at 9pm, Culverhay Sport Centre, Rush Hill, Bath. Regular diving programme from club RIB. (68434) SOS Divers (SAA 263), Stourport, Worcestershire. Founded 1979. Friendly family club welcomes qualified and trainee divers. Own RIB. Contact Althea by email: (57542) South Coast Divers (SAA 1150) Portsmouth. A friendly and active club welcomes new and experienced divers from all agencies. Email: or call Darren: 07449 794 804. (69224) South Queensferry SAC, near Edinburgh. Two RIBs, gear for hire. Pool training during the Winter; trips & expeditions in the Summer. Pub meeting at Hawes Inn. Call Warren: 07980 981 380. (64861) Totnes SAC (Devon). We are an active multi-agency club and welcome new members and qualified divers from all organisations. Two RIBs and own compressor/nitrox, plus club 4WD. Diving all round South Devon and Cornwall. Visit for details. (68319) (find us on Facebook) Cardiff-based SAA club taking on new trainees and crossover members contact us on 07547 398802. (71656) Steyning Scuba Club, West Sussex. All divers welcome. Steyning Pool , Monday evenings at 8.30pm. Contact Andy Willett on 07786 243 763. www.seaurchin (63956) High Wycombe SAC. Come and dive with us - all welcome. Active club with RIB on South coast. Contact Len: 07867 544 738. (69131) Wells Dive Group. Friendly, active club in Somerset welcomes new or experienced divers. Meeting/training at The Little Theatre or the pool on Thursdays, try dives available. Regular RIB diving, trips around the UK and abroad. Visit: or Tel: Rob, 07832 141250. (69653) Wiltshire’s newest Scuba Diving Club - JC Scuba Dive Club. Friendly active dive club based in Swindon, all affiliations welcome. Pool sessions, UK & Worldwide trips, shore, boat & liveaboard diving, regular socials. Affiliated training school, fully insured. Exclusive member benefits. (68279)


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PADI 5* IDC Centre. Porthkerris, St. Keverne, Nr Helston TR12 6QJ. Tel: (01326) 280620. E-mail: 7 days a week, tuition from novice to instructor, hardboat/RIB charters, escorted dives, dive shop, beach café, basking shark trips, camping, shore dive.



256 Bridge Road, Lower Swanwick, Southampton SO31 7FL. Tel: (01489) 581755. Fax: (01489) 575223. E-mail: Open 7 days, PADI 5* IDC, RYA powerboat, 3.5m pool & classrooms, large shop, mail order, kids parties, Club, helo escape, disabled friendly, 300bar.

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Leicester, LE9 4DW. Sales & service: (01455) 273089; The Dive School (PADI 5* IDC): (01455) 272768; Nemo’s Bar & Diner: (01455) 274198. UK’s leading dive company. Dive “Stanegarth”, Britain’s biggest inland wreck.

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The Pier, High Street, Swanage, Dorset. Tel: (01929) 423565. Mob: (07977) 142661. E-mail: Open 7 days a week during the dive season. The UK’s oldest dive centre.






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MIDDLESEX Unit 1 Willow House, River Gardens, North Feltham Trading Estate, Feltham TW14 0RD. Tel: (020) 8751 3771. Fax: (020) 8751 2591. E-mail: Mon-Fri 0900-1800; Sat 0900-1230. ANDI Training.























































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✹ Take out a ONE-YEAR subscription to Britain’s best-selling diving magazine for just £56.95 ✹ You also receive an Apeks Professional Diving Watch worth £88. ✹ Depth rated to 200 metres, the Apeks Professional Diving Watch has a stainless steel case and high-quality movement

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POST COUPON TO: FREEPOST RTSA-BKTC-UHBG, divEr, Suite B, 74 Oldfield Road, HAMPTON, TW12 2HR YES, please send me 12 issues of divEr plus Apeks Diving Watch for £56.95 starting with the __________________ issue



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Deep Breath SEPT.qxp_DIVER grid 27/07/2017 09:40 Page 98

The arrival of children can change divers’ lives – you don’t know if they will share your passion as they grow up or – inadvertently – stifle yours. So CHARLIE OLDFIELD went through a range of emotions when son Dylan announced that he wanted to dive…

learning alligators



house can be classified as either BC (Before Children) or AC (After Children). Dive holidays is one area that falls into life BC. So when our son Dylan asked when he could learn to dive, our emotions ranged from euphoria to apprehension. Basic research told us that he would have to wait until he was 10 before taking his PADI Junior Open Water Diver course (certified to 12m depth). So he patiently waited for what to him seemed an eternity. Shortly after his 10th birthday we packed him and a friend off for a try-dive at a local club, to make sure that he was comfortable with the reality of scuba. At the end of the session the pair emerged from the pool with huge grins on their faces. In the words of two excited 10year-olds: “That was sick!” Researching our family holiday, the prime consideration was Dylan’s desire to qualify as a diver. Taking FCO travel advice into account, we opted for Mexico. Next step was to choose a hotel that met with the kids’ approval – it must have a buffet, pool and lots of native wildlife. We also needed a good dive-centre on site. We chose the Grand Sirenis Resort, Riviera Maya and, having read glowing reviews, contacted Blue Experience Diving. Owner Tim Neuman told me how Dylan should go about completing the eLearning part of his course online, as we didn’t want him spending half of his holiday in a classroom. As our departure neared, Dylan set to work. The course requires students to work through a mix of text and video clips before undertaking knowledge tests and ultimately a multiple-choice exam.


IX TO SEVEN HOURS is a fairly long drag for a 10-year-old. I sat in on his studies to make sure he understood what he was doing, and would take a break when his concentration began to flag. If he made a mistake in a knowledge review the correct answer would appear, and we could then discuss it to ensure that



sick distance down the coast to Casa Cenote, a sinkhole surrounded by jungle. While Dylan did his pre-dive checks, the rest of the family snorkelled. The cenote is predominantly fresh water, but small tunnels link it to the sea, so a number of saltwater species can be found in the more brackish areas. At the end of the day Dylan talked eagerly about what he had seen and done.



he understood why his answer had been wrong. I confess to finding the whole process quite useful, having forgotten some of the information in the 20-plus years since I qualified. After successfully completing the five sections (minimum pass mark is 70% on each), Dylan was ready for the final exam. I was probably as nervous watching him as I had been when doing my own exam, but he passed with flying colours (in fact every stage can be retaken if required). Part One was complete. All slightly nervous, we met Tim and his wife Kathrin at Blue Experience. They were very welcoming, and there was no trace of the intimidatory atmosphere that I have experienced at some dive-centres around the world. Dylan was treated with the same level of respect that I would expect an adult diver to be given, and I soon realised that Tim ran a very professional operation. I was pleased Dylan felt comfortable with him. After a couple of days lounging around the pool we turned up at 8am for the first confined-water sessions. Strong winds meant that it wouldn’t be possible to start the lessons in the sea, so we drove a short

and we returned to the cenote. Other local dive-centres appeared to have done the same, and the water was crowded but, unfazed, Dylan and Tim got on with it. I was pleased to see that Dylan was struggling to suppress a “that-was-sick” smile when he emerged. Kathrin had given me a heads-up about what he might see, so I had an inkling of why he was grinning. I don’t know of many divers who have seen schooling tarpon, a loggerhead turtle (first sighting in that cenote), two green morays and an alligator before they even finished their OWD. OK, the alligator was “only” about 1.5m long, and basking at the side rather than swimming around but, hey, look in his logbook! Hoping that Dylan could complete his course in the sea, we took two days off. Dylan wiled away his time in a hammock, playing poolside games (foam party!), or tracking wildlife with his sister Evie. Adopting an almost safari-type routine they saw countless bin-raiding coatis and raccoons, agoutis, spider monkeys, black iguanas and even a toucan. The weather finally turned and I joined Dylan on the boat, heading for the edge of Akumal Bay. Watching him complete his final skills assessments, I felt a huge sense of pride. We went on to do four additional dives, and I watched as his technique slowly improved on each one. By the end of our holiday he had logged eight dives and added green and hawksbill turtles, barracuda and many other cool critters to his list of sightings. He even got to see the only wreck – a coral-encrusted motorbike, sitting on the sand. Dylan is now counting the days until his 15th birthday, when his certification automatically upgrades from Junior to full OWD. A lifetime of adventure awaits. I just hope his expectation levels have not been raised too high by his good fortune in Mexico. Dive-holidays look set to become part of life AC.

RNLI (Diver Sea Survival Course) – 08_17.qxp_Full Page Bleed 03/08/2017 10:45 Page 1

THE RNLI DIVER SEA SURVIVAL COURSE AND WORKSHOP Equip yourself with the skills and confidence you need to dive in the cold, challenging waters around UK and Irish coastlines

Contact your local dive centre or club for more details Visit for more information

In partnership with:

RNLI Diver Sea Survival Workshop provided by

RNLI Diver Sea Survival Course provided by

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea Other training providers may also offer the RNLI Diver Sea Survival Course or Workshop. Visit for a full list of members

Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Registered charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland

Suunto (Vyper Novo) – 09_17.qxp_Suunto 03/08/2017 10:47 Page 1


SUUNTO VYPER NOVO When you’re ready to take diving to the next level, Suunto Vyper Novo is the perfect new dive buddy to take along. Super solid and nitrox capable, it’s packed with advanced features that open up new possibilities for exploring the depths.

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