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Bimini – Wild Dolphin Day

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Our tour of The Bahamas had us doing quite a bit of island hopping, using small planes to take us from one island to the next. This meant that there were a few non-diving days scheduled into our itinerary and one of these was on Bimini. So, what is there to do? Well we have always wanted to do one of the wild dolphin snorkel trips to see if we could get in the water and photograph Atlantic Spotted Dolphins that are famous residents here.

We jumped on the boat with our cameras and snorkeling gear and headed up to the top deck of the Bimini Scuba Centre boat to hear the briefing from Neal Watson, owner and our guide and skipper for the day. The trip out to the right area was going to take about 20 minutes and then it was time for everyone to start spotting.

There are actually two species of dolphin that spend their time just off the Bimini coastline, the aforementioned spotted kind and also Bottlenose Dolphins. Spotted dolphins are considered to be more “friendly” and so are the ones that can make for the best in-water experience, but when the first shout of dolphin rung out around the boat, it was for a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. We didn’t care; we grabbed our mask, fins and snorkels, as well as our cameras, and jumped off the back of the boat.

It was incredible! As soon as we put our heads in the water, we could hear the dolphins clicking and pointing their noses at the sandy sea bed below. They were using echo-location to find their prey buried beneath the sand. We watched them hunt beneath us. We thought that, as they were busy finding food, they would not be interested in us, but every time they came up to breathe, they would buzz past us, getting very close and having a good look at us. This lasted for about half an hour and then they were suddenly gone and we jumped back on the boat to begin a new search.

In just a few minutes, we were back in the water, again with more Bottlenose Dolphins and this group was even friendlier. The group had a mother and baby, who were not worried by us at all, and in fact the mother and baby came in very close to each of us in the water, which was a real treat.

We never did find any Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, as our experience in the water with the Bottlenose Dolphins was so magical, we did not want to leave and stayed for over an hour in the water, watching them play and hunt until it was time to head back to dry land. Our time in Bimini was up. Our short time on the island had given us up-close Great Hammerhead Shark encounters, wrecks and reefs, and also this wonderful wild dolphin experience. The tiny island packs a real punch for the underwater photographer!

We now move on to Andros to dive into blue holes, along walls… and to try some coral conservation work first hand.

For more information visit the following websites:

www.bahamas.com

www.biminiscubacenter.com

www.biggameclubbimini.com


Image & text by Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown – www.frogfishphotography.com

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Celebrating UK Diving with Dr. Alex Tattersall: Gallery 2

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Alex has been enjoying diving locally during the pandemic and we will be sharing some of his incredible images taken on the south coast of England over the coming days. Here is what he has to say:

I am acutely aware of how lucky I am to live on the South Coast at this moment in time and with overseas trips being put on hold, I’ve been able to look to my own backyard to find sanctity and sanity, a brief escape from the madness of the world. In spite of my good fortune to live so close to some choice UK shore diving, it is still a very different diving experience from that of a luxury liveaboard, and it takes some careful planning and a lot more physical effort and dedication. Without local guide/spotters, you are on your own to find interesting subjects and photogenic situations, and at first sight, this seems impossible in the dark brown silt and sand. However, patience, sensitivity to the environment, and cumulative experience do bring their rewards.

I live in Bournemouth, some 45 minutes from my most visited dive site this year, Swanage Pier. A group of photo friends and I started diving as lockdown was lifted and have continued throughout the season and are still diving now when conditions allow. The beauty of this has been the opportunity to watch the site’s flora, fauna and even topographical features change in response to weather conditions and seasonal variation. We‘ve watched nudibranch species arrive, proliferate, lay eggs and then disappear. We’ve witnessed sea hares arrive in their masses, mate in huge groups and then vanish overnight. We’ve seen wrasse nesting, blennies laying and guarding eggs, anemone shrimp grow from teeny-tiny to almost filling their host snake locks anemone, jellyfish come and go in waves, and (shh) even the magical spiny seahorse pairing, brooding and giving birth in front of our eyes. As the nights draw in and the water cools (and for however long the South West continues to elude more serious lockdown), we are looking forward to more winter and night diving to briefly follow the lives of colder water and more nocturnally active species (although motivating ourselves in colder, damper conditions will be a challenge!).

Knowing that overseas diving is largely on hold (plus the marked slowdown in my day to day workload) has allowed me the time to take a new perspective on local UK diving. I have been able to approach each dive with a much greater level of mindfulness coming from a drop in urgency to make each dive as productive as possible. Returning day after day to the same few sites, revisiting the same critters, having more numerous windows into the lives of the animals has all afforded me with a much deeper level of intimacy with the local seas, for which I hope I will be ever grateful. 2020’s post lockdown sites for me were Swanage Pier, Kimmeridge Bay, the Weymouth/Portland region and I managed to sneak out for a three day break to Lundy Island.

I am also in the fortunate position of having access to new and exciting underwater photo products (what would an article from me be without a few commercial plugs?). Visiting the same sites, I could return with different lens and lighting combinations with ideas as to how to tackle the same subjects from very different photographic perspectives. Much of the shore diving on these sites, as you can see from the photos in this article, lends itself mainly to close up and macro/supermacro photography with windows of excellent visibility (and tangible excitement) when I was able to unleash the Nauticam Wide Angle Conversion Port on the critters. We have also recently received the Nauticam EMWL-1 (Extended Macro to Wide Lens) which is a long probe lens attached to the front of the flat macro port offering wide-angle perspectives of macro subjects. I had the pleasure of test driving the new Retra Pro flashes (with its ability to sync to shutter speeds far higher than the usual 1/250 as you can see in the jellyfish and sunburst shot) and the Backscatter miniflash (the easiest and most versatile snoot light option we have used), to understand first-hand how both are opening up new and exciting possibilities for underwater photography.

I’ll sit back now and let you enjoy the images. My final thought having revisited the image selection for this article is that I’d have never expected to have been able to repeat dive these same sites and to find such diversity and beauty in our local marine flora and fauna. If there is any upside for me to the current difficult situation, it could be that I would never have made to time to discover this had international dive travel still been an easy option.

Alex is the UK distributor for Nauticam and many more underwater photography manufacturers. You can see more of his beautiful images and buy some of the kit he used to take them by visiting his website here.

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Dive Training Blogs

8 ways to always stay connected to diving

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By Edward Kelleher

It happens to many divers (myself included): We get certified, go all-in on the sport of diving, then fall out of diving.  After my initial certification, I did a handful of dives and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, the shop I certified with closed down, I had no other dive buddies, and life caught up to me. It happens to all of us. I get it. Luckily, I’m here to give you surefire ways of getting (and staying) back into diving!

  1. Take a refresher/inactive diver class with your local dive center. This will introduce you to the local shop and staff. If you’ve been out of diving for 6 months to a year or so, take a refresher. Make sure your skills are still strong before going for a dive. Safety first.
  2. Take a class. Any class. Putting yourself back into “student mode” can spark more interest and focus rather than just going for a regular dive. If you haven’t been diving in a number of years, it may be time to retake the open water class.
  3. Look at some new gear. This doesn’t mean you’re upgrading all of your equipment, but it’s smart to stay on top of current gear trends and see what’s new or different. With many classes now requiring dive computer usage, it may be time to purchase one.
  4. Join a social media club page. There are TONS of groups on social media for scuba, both local to your area and international. Join a couple! Bounce some ideas between group members. See who’s going diving. Trying to get a dive in? Put it out to the group!
  5. Join your local dive club! Much like social media club pages, your local dive club may have its own group page! Meet the locals, coordinate dives, and keep an eye out for meetings and social events! A good dive club brings divers of all skill sets and backgrounds together in a fun and inviting atmosphere. The best thing you can do as an active diver is surround yourself with other active divers. You may not want to go on every dive, but you will definitely get more opportunities to jump in the water.
  6. Try the local dive scene. You’d probably be surprised to learn what sort of diving your local area has. Many divers don’t know until they actually start trying to dive local. I never would have heard about Dutch Springs if I wasn’t a diver. Additionally, the diving conditions you’re picturing may not always be the reality. In the northeast, offshore conditions are MUCH better than many would think for NJ/NY area. Trust me.
  7. Take a trip! Whether through your local dive center or on your own, travel! If necessary, you could take your refresher course on your trip as well.
  8. Get a friend or family member into the sport. There’s nothing better than enjoying a dive with a good friend or family member. Sure, you’re recruiting your own dive buddy, but you’ll have someone close to you to share the experiences with!

Life is too short to get certified and not dive again. Get active with your local dive scene and get in the water. Your new dive buddies are waiting!


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

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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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