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The magical Galapagos Islands

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Galapagos Islands

Our Galapagos adventure started from the easternmost island of San Cristobal. Divers had flown in from all over the world and met and chatted as we gathered on the quayside at Puerto Banquerizo Moreno. Whilst we waited we were entertained by the sea lions sleeping all over the sea wall and around the car parks and bus stop benches!

We joined the Humboldt Explorer via zodiacs and were shown to our cabins and briefed about our trip. During the afternoon we made a nearby check dive just to make sure our buoyancy was OK.

We travelled to the island of Santa Cruz overnight and made two morning dives at Punta Carrion where we saw our first hammerhead shark and lots of green turtles and southern stingrays, plus all the classic East Pacific reef fish and some large bumphead parrotfish.

We had an afternoon excursion to North Seymour island to see the blue-footed boobies and nesting frigate birds. The views across to the nearby small islands were beautiful and the photographers were busy capturing the large monitor lizards lumbering around. It was very hot, but it was a very worthwhile excursion.

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Wolf Island

19650183999_fd90464be7_oAfter an overnight crossing we arrived at Wolf Island. Along with Darwin, these remote tiny northern islands provide the signature Galapagos dives. We made several dives alternating between Landslide and Shark Bay sites where we saw lots of hammerhead and Galapagos sharks plus schools of large spotted eagle rays, yellowfin tunas, huge green turtles with steel pompano entourages and walls of Pacific creole fish, large trevallies, etc.

The stars here are the sharks and there was just never enough time during each dive spent around 28m to see the sharks meandering up the rock faces to visit the cleaning stations. The slightly-higher-than-normal temperatures kept conditions for the divers comfortable but meant that the sharks were a little deeper and we were eeking out our no-deco times, even on 32% nitrox.

Darwin Island

We moved onto Darwin island and were offered 10 dives there over 2 1/2 days. We had three whale sharks of various sizes visit the divers, including a small one which swam around the liveaboard several times and had us rushing around the deck to see it. We decided not to snorkel because there were a lot of frisky silky sharks around the boat which can really intimidate snorkelers! The scuba-diving encounters with the whale sharks were special. These were big sharks and it was hard to keep up with them as they swam around. There were both males and females sighted, which is unusual.

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Some lucky divers saw a tiger shark. There were also chunky black tip sharks, many turtles, a sea snake, wahoo, scorpionfish etc. You really can see just about anything at these amazing remote sites.

We spent another day at Wolf on our return journey with more shark action and accompanied on the zodiacs by a large pod of dolphins passing through.

Cabo Douglas and Cabo Marshall

19647734580_dd2885bbda_oAfter another overnight travel we arrived at Fernandina to visit Cabo Douglas and see the marine iguanas. A volcano on the nearby island of Isabela was erupting and the sight of the lava and the dust cloud in the early morning light was impressive. We managed to see the marine iguanas and the strange red-lipped batfish but the swell made diving conditions rather tricky.

A diving cormorant was a remarkable sight! Such a good swimmer, deeper than the divers watching the iguanas!

19810226466_435ea0776b_oWe travelled on to Cabo Marshall on the east side of Isabela. We were extremely lucky and saw several giant mantas plus small schools of mobulas (M. tarapacana), some large black tip sharks and an amazing school of barracudas which posed for photos. The visibility at this site was outstanding, and the steep wall was just amazing: you really felt that anything might pass by.

We made another dive at a site a little further along from Cabo Marshall where the wall was even more spectacular, but we were not so lucky with the creatures (although we did see white tip sharks and yellowfin tunas).

We had a memorable snorkel with penguins too – they move so fast! They are such good divers and were really curious of us poking our cameras at them and quickly came over to test our cameras out with their beaks. I promise we were back pedalling and they came after us. Just so endearing.

Bartholeme

19836444805_1cfed6ca48_oWe awoke next morning next to the famous rock formation (think Master and Commander) at Bartholeme. We made two dives and saw so many turtles, it was incredible. There was some really pretty areas of reef with beautiful seafans and corals, tantalising tropical reef fish like longnose and pixie hawkfish, cloud morays, scorpionfish, snake eels, etc.

Santa Cruz 

No visit to Galapagos is complete without a visit to see the giant tortoises and this was done back at Santa Cruz island during an afternoon/evening excursion which included a visit to Puerto Ayora for some shopping, lots of cocktails and dinner. We made our final journey back to San Cristobal and had a morning in the town before heading back to the airport and onward connections.

It was an incredible trip, with so many memories of so many creatures and lots of new friends made among the divers.

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Photos: Matt Kitchen and Anne-Marie Kitchen-Wheeler

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Scuba Tours Worldwide LogoExperience Galapagos For Yourself

Here are the dates:

17 Jul – 24 Jul 2017 * 7 nights aboard Galapagos Master from £3,587pp

25 Jun – 02 Jul 2018 * 7 nights aboard Galapagos Master from £3,696pp

03 Sep – 10 Sep 2018 * 7 nights aboard Galapagos Master from £3,696pp

Prices include transfer between San Cristobal airport/local hotel and M/V Galapagos Master on days of embarkation and 7 nights aboard the Galapagos Master sharing a twin/double cabin, all meals, soft drinks, diving and land visits.

For more information or to book, contact the Scuba Tours Worldwide team now by calling +44 (0)1284 748010, email sales@scubascuba.com or visit www.scubascuba.com. 

For more specials and exclusive tours from Scuba Tours Worldwide, visit www.scubascuba.com/specials/exclusive-tours.

Matt Kitchen and Anne-Marie Kitchen Wheeler are both fully qualified PADI instructors and have a broad experience of liveaboard diving around the world, including in destinations such as the Galapagos, Socorro, Cocos, Philippines, Indonesia and the Maldives. Anne-Marie has a PhD in ‘Manta Behaviour & Ecology in the Maldives’. During her years of research she has built up an impressive database of hundreds of mantas and she can identify individual animals by the unique markings on their underside. She is often invited to give workshops to schools and dive centres in the Maldives where she can share her expert knowledge. Matt and Anne-Marie are both keen underwater photographers and Matt is an excellent underwater videographer too. They currently run the popular liveaboard MV Sea Spirit in the Maldives for UK-based tour operator Scuba Tours Worldwide.

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Tourism Fiji celebrates Open for Happiness Campaign (Watch Trailer)

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As international borders reopen to the world this week, Tourism Fiji launched the first video piece in it’s Open for Happiness campaign. The team celebrated this at an event at Wyndham Resort Denarau Island, where they unveiled some of the content to crew who worked on the production as well as tourism stakeholders.

Tourism Fiji is delighted to partner with award-winning actress, comedian and producer, Rebel Wilson, the new Ambassador of our global reopening campaign.

Ms. Wilson has fond memories of visiting Fiji as a child and returned to share her love of a destination that offers so much to visitors and is largely vaccinated.

She was joined by a talented pool of Fijian cast and crew to shoot Tourism Fiji’s Open for Happiness campaign in the Mamanuca Islands, where she also sampled a range of experiences.

“Rebel is a talented actress and demonstrates a unique ability to bring her own style of heartfelt humour to the ad that Tourism Fiji is creating,” said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

“We’re delighted to have her as an ambassador who resonates with Fiji and our key tourist markets; Australia, North America, New Zealand and Europe.”

Rebel hiked, did yoga, stand up paddleboarding, scenic helicopter tour, spa treatment, cocktails and visited a popular sandbar.  She was seen stepping out in some local designer wear from Samson Lee and Zuber and enjoyed the hospitality of Vomo Island Fiji.

Her destination highlights of Fiji were shared with her fanbase, including 10.3 million followers on social media platform Instagram, and helped amplify Fiji’s allure as a holiday destination that has now safely reopened to international travellers on December 1st.

Filmed in Fiji over the course of last month, the campaign is the result of the collaborative work of several local partners including activity providers, talented singers, entertainers, videographers, local actors, and extras on set.

“This campaign would not have been possible without the support of our industry stakeholders, and we’re pleased to showcase a global star such as Rebel and the talent of local cast and crew,” said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

Rebel also enjoyed a sunset cruise featuring a live performance by talented local artist, Apakuki “Kuki” Nalawa and shared snippets across her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels.

“With all that’s happened over the last two years, tourism has been badly affected and the entertainment industry has been hit hard by this as well, – the live performance was an eye-opener, a breath of fresh air and gave us all hope that things will get better,” Mr Nalawa said.

“It’s so encouraging to witness a Hollywood actress and her media team enjoying not only the beauty that our country has to offer but also recognising the level of talent we have.”

Tourism Fiji’s Open for Happiness campaign with Rebel will be used into 2022. Further video clips will launch over the coming weeks.

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Announcing the Winners of the DPG/Wetpixel Masters Underwater Imaging Competition 2021

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DivePhotoGuide (DPG) and Wetpixel are proud to announce the winning images and videos in the 2021 edition of the DPG/Wetpixel Masters Underwater Imaging Competition. Once again, hundreds of photographers and filmmakers from dozens of countries competed in what has become known as the “World Championship” of international underwater imaging events.

Created by DPG and Wetpixel, two of the largest online resources for underwater shooters, the competition invited submissions to five image categories and a video category, with entries evaluated by a panel of illustrious industry experts and award-winning photographers: Florian Fischer, Imran Ahmad, Jennifer Hayes, Mike Bartick and Stephen Frink.

This year, Martin Broen received the “Best of Show” prize for his 1st place in the Black and White category. The image, a jaw-dropping capture of the pristine stalactites and stalagmites in a Mexican cenote, earned Martin the top cash prize of $1,000. The 1st place winners in the other categories were Julian Hsu (Macro Traditional), Sander van der Heijden (Macro Unrestricted), Enrico Somogyi (Wide Angle Traditional), Tom Shlesinger (Wide Angle Unrestricted) and Alex del Olmo (Video); each of them received a cash prize of $250.

In a joint statement, DPG Editor-in-Chief Joseph Tepper and Wetpixel Publisher Adam Hanlon said: “Once again, the DPG/Wetpixel Masters competition has demonstrated the incredible talent that exists in our community of underwater shooters. As many of us continue to face lockdowns and travel restrictions, these photos and films remind us of the riches under the sea and why we must maintain our collective passion to protect the oceans we love.”

The organizers are pleased to announce that 15 percent of entry proceeds will once again be donated to marine conservation efforts.

You can see the full results here.

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

Price NOW from just £975 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from London Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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