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The Azores – spectacular marine encounters close to home

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The Azores

Divers looking for spectacular marine encounters no longer need to travel halfway around the world with the discovery of the Azores – nine unique islands that offer world class diving less than four hours flying time from the UK.

The archipelago’s remote mid-Atlantic location, perfectly positioned between the nutrient-rich currents from the north and the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream, allow for a unique biodiversity. There is no other destination in Europe where visitors can come face to face with wild dolphins and almost nowhere else in the world where divers can look a mesmerising blue shark in the eye.

The chance to dive with one of the ocean’s fastest fish, the captivating blue shark, is what entices most divers to the Azores in the first place. A stay on the mountainous island of Pico offers the best chance to meet small groups of these naturally inquisitive sharks underwater at the renowned Condor Seamount. Manta rays, morays, stingrays, groupers, wrasse, parrotfish, trigger fish and damselfish can also be encountered here. Pico also affords divers easy access to Princess Alice Bank, the most famous seamount of the Azores. A lengthy boat ride is rewarded with a majestic underwater mountain falling to some 500m whose 35m tip is packed with groups of devil rays, barracuda and schools of thousands of tuna swirling in the strong currents.

Divers visiting the Azores can hope to encounter at least 25 different pelagic species including the famous blue and mako sharks, spotted, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins, five kinds of turtle, manta and devil rays, and even whale sharks. Coastal dive sites also offer the chance to discover friendly dusky groupers, octopus and morays lurking under rocks and tiny, colourful nudibranch. Beaked whales, sperm whales, blue whales, humpbacks and false killer whales can all be spotted from the surface making any boat ride to a dive site an exhilarating adventure in itself.

The Azores are fast gaining a reputation for these spectacular marine encounters but these emerald islands offer far more. Divers visiting the Azores have the opportunity to discover a unique geological underwater landscape etched by volcanic lava streams over the centuries. Labyrinthine tunnels, bubbling hydrothermal vents, canyons, caves and arches provide an impressive and exciting backdrop to the marine life and provide plenty of opportunities for photographers in the clear water. A number of impressive wrecks and the intriguing ship graveyard at the Underwater Archaeological Park at Terceira provide further opportunities for discovery.

Equally spectacular on land, divers can immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage and wide diversity of the Azorean islands. With each island having its own unique charm, non-diving days can be spent hiking through picturesque landscapes, climbing to waterfalls and towering volcanoes, exploring the islands’ maritime history, or simply relaxing in hot springs.

Diving holiday specialist Regaldive features holidays on the islands of Sao Miguel, Pico, Terceira and Santa Maria during the main May – October season when the best diving conditions are found. The location of the Azores means the islands are particularly well suited to twin centre combinations and Regaldive’s personalised itinerary service ensures divers will experience the best of this exciting destination. Prices start from £699pp for a seven night package including return flights, bed and breakfast accommodation (twin share) and transfers. Diving starts from £125pp for a four dive pack.

For further information or to book, visit www.regaldive.co.uk or call +44 (0)1353 659 999.

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Christian Horras

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The March winner was Christian Horras and you can see their winning image at the top of this page.


What do you love about diving & underwater photography?

For me it is all about showing the beauty of our world underwater to people that don’t dive and thus can’t see it for themselves. I want to share my own passion for the amazing ecosystem that is so much older than everything we know living on land. As I am from Germany, there are only a few people in my surroundings that have ever seen a coral reef or a shark with their own eyes. It is a big privilege to be able to go diving all over the world and in return it should be our task to arise awareness of this fragile and endangered ecosystem.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D810 in a Isotta Housing and various lenses, depending on the subject: a Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fisheye, a Nikon 16-35 mm F4 and two Nikon Macro lenses (60mm and 105mm), as well as a WeeFine +13 Diopter. The Fisheye is my main lens, as it allows me to get really close and still cover a big field of view. For lighting I use two Retra Pro Strobes and a Retra Snoot.

Where can our readers see more of your work?

Website: www.christianhorras.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/christian.horras/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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Emperor Divers reaches halfway in Covid Diver Heroes Initiative with fourth award

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Emperor Divers have reached the halfway point with their #coviddiverheroes initiative and are still receiving worthy nominations every day! Here, they recognise their 4th winner, another awesome hero from the diving community with an inspirational story of selflessness through the pandemic. Nominated by David White, Phuong Cao wins a free liveaboard trip in the Maldives when she can finally take some time off, and here is her story:

I, David White, would like to nominate Phuong Cao (36) for her tireless efforts fighting this pandemic. Not satisfied with being a frontline hospitalist in New York she took a second job on the COVID team in Guam to treat patients under even tougher conditions on her weeks off! She continues to commute 7750 miles each way and apply herself to both jobs for three months already and counting. Her energy level has no limits and she’s only happy when those in her care are on the mend. I think she definitely deserves a break! I guess the Maldives would be the best choice for her as I know she has dived with you in the Red Sea already.

Phuong Cao

We have been in touch with Phuong who had this to say: “Wow what a surprise! Thank you for the recognition. Holding my breath until I get back underwater!”

The halfway point is a good chance to remind people that the initiative is still running and the Emperor Divers team would love to hear about more heroes, as there are four more to award in the next 2 months!

Do you know a diver who has been heroic this past year? Emperor know that, worldwide, people have had to step up during this pandemic which has affected so many lives. They want to reward some real heroes with free liveaboard trips in the Red Sea or Maldives.

Luke Atkinson, Emperor’s Red Sea Manager, said: “This initiative is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those hundreds of people who have taken a selfless interest in looking after the vulnerable in their community. Examples could include healthworkers, carers or those who have come out of retirement to volunteer locally, but really we know there are many other ways people have been heroic.“

Emperor want to hear from people who know a heroic diver who would love to have a free liveaboard trip to look forward to in the future. People need to nominate a Covid Hero Diver and tell Emperor (in 100 – 200 words) why they deserve a free trip, and whether they would prefer the Red Sea or the Maldives. A multinational panel of Emperor’s most loyal and compassionate staff will judge the entries and pick a winner every 2 weeks for the next 2 months. There are two remaining Red Sea and two more Maldives liveaboards to be earned, so get nominating and give that hero a reward for their amazing work!

Winners will be announced by 14th (Maldives) and 28th (Red Sea) of each month. Final entries for Red Sea by 20th May ‘21 and Maldives 5th June ’21.

Entries, comments and questions should be sent to heroes@emperordivers.com.

Terms & Conditions apply: Please contact heroes@emperordivers.com for details.

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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 john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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