Review by Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown
First impressions of this book are good. It has lovely inviting front and back covers and is the right size to take on a trip with you. It is a paperback book, keeping the weight down for travel, but still uses high quality paper. Now, we have never dived Gozo or Comino, so are not going to be able to argue the accuracy of the dive site descriptions, but Richard is an instructor and guide on the island with masses of experience. The book had just gone to press when the famous Azure Window collapsed, and so some edits had to be made to correct this information, but it now has up to date information about diving this area.
The book covers 57 dive sites on Gozo and a further 14 on Comino, featuring both shore and boat dives that include caves, caverns, ship wrecks, reefs and sheltered bays. The first few pages cover some essential information about diving these islands, some history, useful phrases and where to visit when you are not underwater. Then the book gets into the nitty gritty of the dive sites themselves.
Most of the dive site descriptions include a detailed map, with a suggested route drawn on to assist those that will be diving without a guide. There is a written description of the dive and a useful details box to give depth, duration, visibility and difficulty level, as well as including tips like taking a torch on dives that have overhead environments, or to use an SMB in heavy boat traffic areas. There is usually a photo or two taken above water to show the topography and entry points for the dive site, and there are underwater photographs too. I would have liked to see more quality underwater photographs to show off the diving here and to whet my appetite.
I was very pleased to see a section at the back about seahorse photography and their strict protection on these islands and there are additional pages on invasive species and seagrasses too. There is also a handy list of dive centres, emergency contact details and a wealth of other useful titbits that raise this publication above the standard dive guide. I was surprised to see the odd advert in the book though, but I guess a book like this might need a little extra funding to help publishing costs.
All in all, this is a well put together and good-looking guide book that will be a useful tool for anyone planning on diving Gozo and Comino. It is the sort of book that first timers, as well as those experienced in diving here, will want to have on their shelves… I would certainly love to put it to the test and dive some of the sites using the book as a guide.
Available now in paperback (ebook forthcoming) from Divedup.com, online and from retailers.
£16.95 / €19.95 / US $24.95 | ISBN 978-1-909455-16-0 | 176 pages | 234 x 156 mm
Scubaverse.com is currently running a competition where you can win a copy of ‘Diving Gozo & Comino – The essential guide to an underwater playground’. The competition ends at midnight next Tuesday 6th June. You can enter the competition to win a copy of Richard’s book here.
Film Review: Thirteen Lives
Ron Howard’s recreation of the 2018 rescue of a Thai junior football team is impressive. Even though we know what happens in the end the tension and drama played out is palpable.
On 23 June 2018, 12 members of a Thai junior football team, the Wild Boars, and their coach became trapped deep in the Tham Luang cave system by rising flood water. The film details the incredible international rescue efforts that ensue. And Ron Howard has judged the tone perfectly. There is no Hollywood glitz and glamour and the two leading actors: Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen, who play John Volanthen and Rick Stanton respectively, capture the intensity of the situation perfectly.
The diving scenes are claustrophobic in the extreme. Although I suspect that the visibility was even worse than the film depicts as you have to be able to see something in the dramatization! All the way through the film I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the extraordinary feat these divers pulled off. The skill and bravery required still impresses after watching films, hearing them speak in public and reading about the rescue.
I loved that, whilst the divers took centre stage in the film, the heroic rescue efforts of the water engineer and his team was also given the attention they deserve, as well as the incredible Thai Navy Seals and the thousands of people that flocked to the region to help.
Thirteen Lives is a must watch movie about an incredible cave rescue. It’s sober tone hits the mark. The cinematography is skilled and creates an impressively tense experience. It is available on Amazon Prime right now.
The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Underwater Photographer Elaine Whiteford
Gemma and Ian chat to Elaine Whiteford. Elaine learned to dive in 2002 and qualified as an Instructor (Master Scuba Diver Trainer) in 2005. She is based in Scotland and dives all year round in the North Sea and the sea lochs of the Scottish west coast. A photographer before she was a diver, taking pictures underwater was a natural development for Elaine, who was awarded a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society with a portfolio of underwater images.
She has had articles published in a range of magazines, both general interest and diving, including Scottish Wildlife, Diver, The Undersea Journal, The Sea, BBC Wildlife and the Scot’s Magazine. Her work has also featured in a number of exhibitions, such as the Royal Photographic Society’s Projected Image Exhibition, the Edinburgh International Exhibition of Photography and the Scottish Parliament’s Biodiversity Exhibition. She had a solo exhibition, Scotland’s Waters Brought To Life, in Stirling’s Smith Museum. Her images have appeared in a range of books and she is a contributor to Wild & Temperate Seas, 50 Favourite UK Dives, which was published in November, 2020.
Elaine was shortlisted in the 2020 Scottish Nature Photography Awards and her image appears in the Portfolio Yearbook which was published in the autumn of 2021.
Have a listen here:
Find out more here:
Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba
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