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Big Blue savings… book up now for 2022/23 Red Sea liveaboard adventures

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The Scuba Place, the UK’s exclusive Travel Agent for MV Big Blue, are delighted to announce its post-Covid relaunch with huge savings for 2022 and 2023.

Having been completed in early 2020, immediately before the global lockdown, the British owned and operated Big Blue was launched in Egypt’s Red Sea as Covid decimated the dive travel industry. With Egypt now firmly placed on the ‘Rest of The World’ list, and with the all clear given from the FCDO, travel is now GO GO GO!

Big Blue – she is BIG! At 42m length, she is one of the largest vessels offering Red Sea safaris there is, but space doesn’t mean hundreds of divers! Built by divers for divers, she sleeps a maximum of 24 people in 12 large, air-conditioned cabins. No more squeezing past your room buddy or banging knees as you squeeze into the bathroom sideways!

There are also accessible cabins on the main deck, with doors in and out that are wide enough (and level enough) for wheelchair access.

Then there are the deck areas – the dive deck itself being deliberately over-size, a huge kitting up area that can accommodate twin-set and rebreather divers, camera tables, rinse tanks – all designed for maximum space. For the sun-lovers and for between dives, the other decks are super-spacious too – no jacuzzi taking up unnecessary space, but comfortable loungers, bean bags and cushioned seating, both under cover and in the sun.

The boat is important to all liveaboard divers – there is nothing worse than being crammed into dated, damp and tiny cabins with dodgy blankets and leaking air-conditioning units. Big Blue fixes these issues, but there is then the question of food. As Big Blue is British built and owned, expect quality food, ample quantity, and lots of snacks available between dives too. All soft drinks are provided, including on-demand tea, coffee, juices and sodas. The bar? An important part of any trip, it offers a selection of local and well-known beers and wines at very sensible prices – if you want the hard stuff, bring your own from Duty Free and let us know in advance what mixers you want – they will be provided!

The most important part of a liveaboard trip is of course the diving. Operated by Pharaoh Dive Clubs, owned by the 30+ year experienced Steve and Clare Rattle, you need to expect the totally open and flexible approach to diving. No rigid itineraries, no dictated dive times, no forced guiding – wherever possible, Big Blue operates a ‘Pool is open’ approach – grab your buddy, tell the deck manager, and dive!

The itineraries offered are special too – there is always a plan but the plan is flexible, based not only on the Captain’s decisions and the weather as per normal, but based on you, the diver! Staying on the Thistlegorm for an extra day, following dolphins, sharks or whalesharks in the South for example – everything, within reason and consensus of course, is an option. And there is normally something different offered to other vessels too on each trip – add in Ras Mohammed and Tiran on a Northern safari, dive the Thor Guardian Support vessel at Tiran, or add in a visit to the Salem Express if you are on one of the Southern itineraries – or, specify your own custom-itinerary, and we will build it!

Nitrox is of course included and 15l, extra tanks for sidemount, twinset and even support for rebreather and tech divers can be provided.

Available for part and full charters, and with some sailings for individuals, Big Blue will set the standards for liveaboard diving in the Red Sea. To celebrate the ‘post Covid relaunch’, the team are keeping full charter prices at 2020 levels all the way through to 2023, subject to bookings being made by the 1st December 2021. A sensible deposit secures your charter, so grab your Club or build your own gang of buddies, or even join on of The Scuba Places’ hosted trips – but do it soon!

As a guide, prices start from Just £695 (plus flights) per person in Low Season, including Port Fees, Marine Park Fees, Government Reef Protection fees and Nitrox, based on a full charter for Northern Wrecks itinerary, rising to £925 for a Deep South itinerary, again including all fees and in High Season. Book after the 1st December, and prices will have increased by at least 10%.

See The Scuba Place website for itineraries, or their e-brochure – or even better, just get in touch with the team at The Scuba Place (0203 515 9955 or john@thescubaplace.co.uk) and get planning your trip! They will build your trip to include flights if required, and offer full ATOL Protection.

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World Shootout winners revealed at Boot

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The World Shootout winners were announced at this years returning Boot show.

Producer David Pilosof initiated the first World ShootOut online competition in 2011, breaking all boundaries and introducing an international competition as never produced before.
Hundreds of photographers from around 40 countries around the world take part in the World ShootOut competition year after year, submitting thousands of images and videos, ranging from those that capture the calm lakes of the Nordic countries and Canada, showcase the exotic secrets hidden in Alaska and introduce the great dramatic white shark in the Gulf of Mexico.

Claudio Ceresi from Italy won the top valuable prize for best picture of the year $10,000 worth of 3 weeks diving vacation for 2 people, in Papua New Guinea.

The winning video can be seen here:

We have featured a few of the category winners in the gallery above. To see all the images placed in this competition, visit the World Shootout Website

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New book by diver aims to inspire teens to protect sharks and the ocean

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A new book by experienced diver Christine Edwards has just been published, which aims to inspire children and young people to better understand sharks and become advocates for ocean and environmental protection.

Sharks Are Scary Aren’t They? tackles themes such as the human impact on the environment and the protection of sharks and their habitats. The story depicts the emotional journey of Charlie Parker, a fearful twelve-year-old boy, and Jane Jones, a retired dentist and scuba diver, who meet by chance on a beach. Despite the years that separate them, they discover they are more alike than they could have imagined.

Sharing the world through the eyes of sharks, hearing about the struggles and dangers they face and how they are on the brink of extinction, brings the two friends closer together. In this book there are stories of shark encounters, the majesty of the underwater world and how the impact of human activity and plastic pollution is affecting their habitat. Most of all, the two characters learn about the power of the human spirit to change in the face of adversity.

Author Christine Edwards was born in Chester in 1962. She read psychology at Warwick University, then worked as a teacher for twenty years. In 2004 she trained at Birmingham Theatre School to become an actor. As a teenager Christine feared the sea and the sharks that swam there. After trying a scuba dive in 2006 and making 1,200 dives around the globe, everything changed. She now adores sharks, hence writing this book.

Christine says: “Conquering a deep rooted fear of the sea and terrified of the sharks that roamed there, I made the astonishing decision to try a scuba dive in 2006. The moment I sank beneath the waves and glimpsed at the world below the surface, I was well and truly hooked. Since that first plunge underwater, I have accomplished over 1200 dives in seas and oceans around the globe. My fear of sharks has turned into a passion for them. Whenever I would describe my shark encounters to friends or family they invariably expressed concern and questioned why anyone would dive with such a dangerous species.”

Christine continues: “My book came out of the need to redress the balance for this wonderful fish. Sharks have existed for 450 million years, well before the dinosaurs, and still exist today. They are being hunted and cruelly killed for their fins and are probably one of the most misunderstood creatures on our planet. The knock-on effect of their demise will be catastrophic. Oceans without sharks will cause negative changes to other species – without this apex predator keeping other fish in check, our coastlines and reefs will ultimately suffer. The oceans need sharks!”

The paperback of Sharks Are Scary Aren’t They? (ISBN  9781915352613) is out now and was published on 28th January 2023 by The Book Guild, an imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd. Priced £8.99, the book is available from https://bookguild.co.uk/bookshop/ as well as at bookshops and through Amazon and other retailers.

Check back for our review of Sharks Are Scary Aren’t They? soon!

Header Photo credit: Jane Davies Photography. Photo of Christine Edwards on a dive.

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Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies. Price NOW from just £1195 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including: Flights from 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 – limited flight seats at this price. Alternative departure airports available at a supplement. Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk. More Less

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