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2021 in a Clamshell

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I do not think I need to explain why the last two years have been a rollercoaster, which is why I will not be doing that in this blog. But with what has been going on I thought I would take the time to summarize 2021 as a year after the wobbly year that 2020 was.

At the beginning of 2021 I promised myself that I would do more, I would go diving more (outside of work) and I would work harder on my photography. 2021 has seen some truly incredible adventures and trips and I have ticked a few things off my bucket list to say the least, so here is 2021 rounded up to its greatest highlights.

At the very beginning of 2021 I was invited on the Western Ecology Tour with Andy Clark, during this trip I ticked off some pretty big things. Not only was I able to dive more and practice my photography but I finally went to the Highlands of Scotland, a place that my Grandad and I always said we would go. A place that felt truly magical, not only this but the diving was just as breath-taking and magical as the dramatic landscape above. On the expedition I also met some truly incredible people, who made the trip the best that it could possibly be and I also managed to tick a few photography subjects off my list, from Scorpionfish, and mating Spider Crabs in North Wales, to Catsharks in Pembrokeshire.

In September I was able to tick something else off my list, swimming in the blue with Blue Sharks in the Celtic Deep with of course, The Celtic Deep Team. Swimming with Blues in the UK wasn’t the only tick off my list, but also getting my Fiancé in the water with a Shark in open water was the other. Myself and my Fiancé were thankful to swim with Whale Sharks back in 2018, where they merely gave us a passing glance as their huge form swam past us in the warm Mexican waters, but I really wanted her to experience an animal that’s as curious about us as we are about them, so getting her in the water was incredible. Not only this but she also saw her first whale which made the whole trip worth it.

The final tick off my list was finally getting to the Farne Islands Nature Reserve, the trip was incredible. The stories I had heard coming from the Farne Islands were always those of incredible interactions with Grey Seals, who love to play and frolic in the shallow waters in the Autumn. I was buddied with Yo-Han, and we had incredible interactions with Seals, and I even had my DSMB run into a bit of trouble when a young seal decided to try and make my DSMB theirs truly forever more, which resulted in a very disappointed look from me when it pulled me through my safety stop.

Alongside all of this I have also come to the end of this year being much more confident in my photography and feel like I have a much better understanding and direction in where I want my work to go in the future. This also went hand in hand with the growth in my confidence as a Diver after having some time out of Open Water.

What I can say is that after the uncertainty of the last two years, the latter of the two has been an eye-opening experience, an adventure, and a year where I have felt so much more confident in what I want to do and where to go, it’s definitely been a year with more highs than lows and has made me very excited for what the next year has to offer.

Donovan is a Divemaster who currently works as a Shark Diver at Blue Planet Aquarium based in Ellesmere Port. Donovan’s passion lies with Elasmobranch’s (Sharks & Rays) and this passion has led him to work in South Africa with White Sharks for a short period. He also believes that education through exposure is the best way to re-educate people about Sharks. Follow Donovan at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

Dive Training Blogs

Diving Tips… a new blog series from Duttons Divers

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Not a UK diver or wanting to learn more about the UK waters? We have you covered! Each month we will be writing tips for experiencing the beautiful waters off our coast and in-land. The year of COVID drove us to a few seasons in the UK – and hopefully this persuaded more of you to jump in the waters and see what the UK has to offer. For those of you that are yet to be struck by the UK dive bug, hopefully this will give you some incentive to do so. We are a little biased… admittedly!

So, what do we know about diving to give you the tips in the first place? Well… Duttons Divers have been around for the past 8 years, with 2 of these as a freelance instructor, the further 5 at Vivian Quarry and the previous year saw our expansion of our business, adding another centre into the mix at Hafan Marina Dive Centre too! We teach 365 days of the year… both of our dive schools are in the UK… we jump into quarries as well as the sea, and run all levels of courses from beginner to instructor. We have 15 divers within our staff team, and are headed up by Course Director, Clare Dutton…. There’s a fair bit of knowledge (hopefully) between us all!

Our tips and tricks will cover topics such as cold water diving, boat diving, navigating in low visibility, choosing the right equipment for the UK, taking your IDC in the UK… and a whole other load of varied topics. We are also open to anything that you would like covering too with a question and answer selected for each write up, so please send them into our email account or FB messenger and we will select one for each month to answer!

We will kick the topics off for you though.. our first will be… cold water diving! Check it out next month!


Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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Gear Reviews

Gear Review: SurfEars 3.0

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Back in 2019 I was at a really low ebb. I had just been told that I could not dive anymore due to recurrent ear infections causing perforations that eventually would lead to permanent damage. I got home from the hospital, slumped on the sofa, and the phone rang. It was Steve Warren from INON UK and I told him my woes. Don’t give up yet, he told me, I think I have just the people to help – SurfEars.

I tried to argue that wearing ear plugs whilst diving was not safe. What about equalization? But he stopped me in my tracks and said that these would work, he had tried them already on several dives. Could this be the answer that would save my diving career and allow me to continue my passion? Well the short answer is yes!

I wrote a review back then which you can read here: https://www.scubaverse.com/gear-review-surfears/

However, I am not sure that I stressed enough at the time that these earplugs saved me. They allowed me to dive, swim and snorkel in the ocean, and I have not had an ear infection since.

Recently the team at SurfEars sent me the latest design – SurfEars 3.0 – to try out. The earplugs come in a really handy pod that I clip to my BCD so that I do not forget them. They come with a range of plug sizes so you can customise them for a perfect fit. The ‘wing’ tucks into your ear, holding the earplug securely, so you feel they will be secure even when rolling or striding off the boat into the water. You can even use them even when putting on a hood in cold water.

The SurfEars allow you to still be able to hear clearly, as they allow air and sound to travel through, and just prevent water ingress, so safety in hearing instructions from the boat or your buddy is not compromised.

I find that wearing them has not only completely stopped any ear infections, but also makes equalization easier too. They are so comfortable that I never really notice that they are in.

If you suffer from ear infections from diving, then do give these a try. They are the first thing on my packing list now!

For more information visit https://surfears.com/

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