Welcome to Episode 15, where we are sailing to Klein Curaçao with BlueFinn Charters to explore this historically significant and now deserted Caribbean island, then diving the surrounding picturesque reefs to understand why the locals say “that the underwater habitats of Klein Curaçao is where everything is bigger and there is more of it with almost the guarantee of turtle sightings”.
BlueFinn Charters is one of the most diverse boat tour companies on island of Curaçao that operates an excellent fleet of boats including a luxurious 75-foot (23 meter) catamaran that sails 5 days a week to Klein Curaçao.
As we boarded the Catamaran BlueFinn, that was docked next to Dive Center ScubaDo at Jan Thiel Beach, we were greeted by the Captain and his professional crew that briefed us on the general safety protocols, social distancing rules, the overall layout of the vessel (that includes a BBQ and full service bar) and what possible wildlife we could expect to see during the 1.5 hour journey covering approximately 17.5 miles (28 km). Once we were settled in and safely stowed our gear away, the crew cast off the lines promptly at 8:30am so that we could begin another amazing Curaçao adventure.
“It is not known exactly when Klein Curacao was first discovered. Officially it was first put on the map in 1871 by a British mining engineer named John Godden. Godden discovered that there was a rich amount of phosphate on the island, left behind by wild birds that used Klein Curacao as their breeding ground. In these days, phosphate was in popular demand being used in Europe as an ingredient for cattle food and fertilizer. In fifteen years’ time over ninety tons of phosphate was harvested and exported to Europe. This led to major changes in Klein Curacao’s landscape, leaving it a barren and an uninhabitable island.” *
Arriving at Klein Curaçao is a bit of a surreal experience because you do not expect this tiny, rugged desolate island that is surrounded by warm aquamarine water and formed from volcanic rock to be so incredibly scenic. But, after you catch your breath and dive in to the largely pristine and unspoiled underwater world, you will quickly realize that you have found a true Caribbean paradise.
All along the eastern shoreline you will find immaculate examples of a well-developed, healthy coral reef system that supports an enormous diversity of marine organisms. Similar to Eastpoint (Oospunt), these self-sustaining reef systems are becoming increasingly rare in the Caribbean but Klein Curaçao is yet another healthy example because of its dense populations of branching corals that protect the coastline.
Travel Tip: The Netherlands has designated Klein Curaçao as its 55th Wetland of International Importance.
According to Ramsar: “The island is of global importance because of the breeding population of the Least Tern, while a 600-metre (2,000 foot) stretch of sandy beach is the most important nesting area within Curaçao’s jurisdiction for the critically endangered hawksbill turtle and the endangered green sea turtle. The main threat to the Site is uncontrolled tourism, which may negatively affect the nesting activities of the sea turtles and terns.” **
Before the Catamaran BlueFinn hoists it sails at 3:00pm, we would encourage you to explore the topside treasures of the Klein Curaçao. A wonderful path will lead you toward the west side of the island where you will first encounter the lighthouse that dates to 1913 and then on to the shipwrecks of the famous oil tanker ‘Maria Bianca Guidesman’, the German freighter called “Magdalena”, and the most recent wreck of the French yacht called “Tchao”.
Travel Tip: Klein Curaçao is an extremely popular day trip for beach-goers, adventurers and watersports enthusiasists alike. To ensure you have the opportunity to visit this little oasis, we advise that you book this all-inclusive trip with BlueFinn Charters well in advance so you can see it for yourself.
Tune in for our final “Postcard from Curaçao” episode, where we will be re-living this amazing postcard series and visiting the colorful historic areas of Punda and Otrabanda, inside the capital of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But, do not worry because we are also planning some bonus postcards too plus a whole new series that will allow you to visit with us virtually here in the heart of the Dutch Caribbean.
We hope you have enjoyed this Postcard from Curaçao and we also hope to see you soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list and to the Dive Curaçao YouTube Channel to be automatically notified.
Sincere Love from Curacao,
Bryan Horne, Dive Curacao
Tilo and Yvonne Kuhnast, Nature Pics Films
*Klein Curaçao – https://www.visit-klein-curacao.com/
**Ramsar Sites Information Service – https://rsis.ramsar.org/ris/2355
Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Ivan Donoghue
In an ongoing series, Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown talks to underwater photographers from around the world that he admires. In this blog: Ivan Donoghue
NRB: Tell us a little about yourself
ID: My name is Ivan Donoghue. I live in a coastal county of Ireland called Wexford and it was with Wexford Sub Aqua Club that I learned to dive in 1990. In 1996 I bought my first small housing for a disposable camera, then moving up through a Nikonos V, several compact digital cameras and now shoot with a Canon 7Dii DSLR in an Aquatica housing.
Over the years I’ve had modest success in some of the underwater competitions including the British and Irish Underwater Photography Championship, the British Wildlife Photography Awards, Hook Peninsula Photography Competition, Diving Life Photography Competition, and this year I was truly delighted to be awarded the Love Your Coast Photographer of the Year.
I have run the main underwater photography and videography competitions for Irish divers and I’m proud to have helped promote underwater photography in Ireland.
NRB: How did your underwater photography start?
ID: I began diving in 1990 with my local club, Wexford Sub Aqua, in the south east of Ireland. After six years of learning the skills, I purchase my first u/w camera, an UNDY housing which accepted disposable cameras. After that I bought a second-hand Nikonos V (now resting on my shelf). After that it was a couple of compacts before moving to DLSR with a Canon 550D and Aquatica housing and then a Canon 7Dii in recent years.
NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?
ID: My current Canon 7Dii and Aquatica housing travels home and away with me, but the one piece of equipment that opened my eyes was the INON wide angle wet lens. Adding the ability to get close to the subject is a game changer in everyone’s images. Where once I could only get a diver’s face, now I was getting their whole body and fins. It really was a game changer for my photography.
NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?
ID: Firstly, if I could go back in time, I believe a dedicated underwater photography workshop would have been so beneficial to me and cut out a lot of mistakes. Secondly, buy a camera and housing set up that allows a wide-angle lens to be fitted. Getting close and adding good light to the image will make your pictures stand out. Shoot RAW and shoot using manual settings.
NRB: What, or who, has been the single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?
ID: I believe Alex Mustard is the best in the world. Not only does he take award winning images, write books, he also educates people on how they can become better through books, talks and trips.
However, my biggest inspiration is Irishman Nigel Motyer. I first met Nigel when we were discussing introducing an U/W photography course for the Irish Dive organisation. That day he lent me his SLR and I took my first wide angle pic. From that day we have travelled to the Bahamas, west of Ireland and Hook Head and on these dives, I have learnt from him.
NRB: What image are you most proud of and why?
ID: The image I am most proud of is the recent one of the Jellyfish and Diver. The reason is that it was the winner of the Love Your Coast competition 2020, the first time an underwater image took top prize. The picture also shows a dive friend Nick Pfeiffer who kindly took me and my wife in his boat that day to the Aran Islands and also had the good manners to make the background more interesting by posing! That is what divers do for each other – we go that extra mile to help fellow divers.
NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it your favourite for the photography?
ID: I love the Red Sea and have been lucky to have a dived their several times. Egypt and its history is something that grows on you. Now that my son is older and has a dive qualification, I hope to spend more holiday time there.
Back at home in Ireland I love a shore dive about 40 mins from my home. It is a ten-minute walk from the car to the site, but when you get there, it is a shallow site with the Schlesien shipwreck, propellor, hidden caves and a blowhole where you can surface for a chat.
NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?
ID: I don’t like the idea of adding anything to a picture and it’s the same when it comes to harassing animals or damaging coral for a picture opportunity.
NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?
ID: I love wide angle images, so I look for something in the foreground with a diver in the frame. Good visibility is a bonus, but not guaranteed in Irish waters of my home county where either windy weather or plankton blooms affect the seasons.
NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?
ID: I love scuba diving and I love photography, so those two addictions are very potent. In addition, for the underwater photographer the gratification doesn’t stop after the dive. It continues through to the download of images and reviewing them on the computer. A good photography dive can keep giving enjoyment for days afterwards.
NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?
ID: I’ve always looked enviously at the travel features in Scubaverse, so a lot of the places featured in the magazine would me on my wish list. I’d love to do the cage diving trip to photograph Great White Shark off Guadeloupe. I’d also love to travel to Indonesia with my family, as it’s a part of the world I’ve never been to, but I know offers superb diving and photography opportunities.
Call for Amazon Shark Ban
Alice Cimino, made a shocking discovery while shopping on Amazon. As the founder of OceanKin Conservation she was appalled to discover the sale of shark products in the form of newborn baby sharks preserved in bottles and offered as gifts. Just over a week ago, Alice launched a petition urging Amazon to ban the sale of shark products on petition platform change.com which has garnered an overwhelming response.
Amazon permit the sale of shark products on their U.S.A platform from vulnerable and endangered species, such as the Spiny Dogfish shark and Mako shark. These items range from shark pups in bottles, Mako teeth and Mako jaws to supplements created with chondroitin aka shark cartilage.
“I am trying to encourage Amazon to align their actions with their words as they profess to be a company with good values,” said Alice Cimino.
As she dug deeper, Alice’s investigations uncovered surprising contradictions within the global shopping giant’s policies and sustainability credentials. Through their Smile program Amazon support ocean conservationists such as WWF and Ocean Conservancy. Amazon also outlined plans for the company to be completely carbon free by 2040. Alice explained, “Allowing the sale of shark products not only sends the wrong message to consumers, it is also at odds with the ethics Amazon claim they have.”
Sharks populations are in critical decline, with a 70% decrease over the past 60 years. “If we don’t stand up for this keystone species, our oceans ecosystems will collapse, it’s that simple. Amazon should stand by their sustainability statements and work with the marine community to protect the oceans most important apex predator, the shark.”
A link to OceanKin’s petition can be found at www.oceankinconservation.com
Updates and further information on the campaign can be found on Instagram @oceankin_conservation & @protectoceankin on Twitter.
Win a Waterproof BODY 2X Power Stretch Hollow Fiber Undergarment!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at CPS Partnership to give away a Waterproof BODY 2X...
WIN a SeaLife AquaPod Mini!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at SeaLife to give away one of their AquaPod Minis...
WIN a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle Bag!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle...
WIN a DivePro S10 Compact Dive Torch!!!
*Please note that this competition closes on 10th March 2021, not 12th February 2021 as stated in the competition’s terms...
Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue. With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after.
Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life. The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.
£1475 per person based on double occupancy. Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available. Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp. Flights and transfers are included. See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.
This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place. Come Dive with Us!
Call 020 3515 9955 or email email@example.com
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