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Book Review: Secret Seas

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Secret Seas: Discover Oman’s Unique Underwater World by Paul Flandinette and Michel Claereboudt 

I do not usually agree to review a book without having a physical copy in my hands, as it is impossible to judge what the quality of the final product is going to be. However, in this case I made an exception, as the book is going to be printed and distributed based on pre-orders. What I can say is that if the publishers put as much care into it as the authors clearly have, it is going to be well worth a look. The book will be a 240 page hardback containing 295 beautiful photos of the 160 marine species featured within.

I have never considered diving in Oman. It has just never come up in conversation before. And yet the opening pages of this book have moved it right up my wish list of diving destinations. I was delighted to read that Oman is an important turtle sanctuary, protesting the 4 species of nesting turtles that visit its pristine white beaches. After introducing the readers to the country, a little of its history, and some information on the marine environment, the book dives right into its main trust which is to show you the beauty and diversity of Oman’s underwater world.

The chapters within cover a range of marine life from macro critters to sharks and are packed with excellent underwater images. You can really get a feel for what it is like to dive there. Whether you love looking for tiny crustaceans or you prefer looking out into the blue for pelagics to cruise past, it seems that Oman has something for everyone.

I was delighted to see that the authors have put in a chapter about ocean conservation and the risks these precious habitats are already facing. It was also good to see a chapter on underwater photography and how to take images like the stunning images in the previous pages, without harming the marine life.

All in all this looks to be a well thought out book filled with beautiful photographs of Oman’s underwater world. You can sense the authors passion for this place as you read and peruse the images.

To learn more visit the website by clicking here

It is available for pre-order by emailing the author Paul directly:

Price is GBP36.85
plus shipping –
GBP 6.50
EUROPE – GBP 16.95
REST OF THE WORLD – GBP 31.95

About the Authors

Paul Flandinette is an award-winning film maker, professional underwater photographer, author and artist. His film making career has included productions for some of the world’s leading companies and government organisations as well as a number of broadcast documentaries.

He is passionate about the underwater world and has dived extensively in the in the Far East, Red Sea, Caribbean and the UK. He has been living in Oman since 2013 and has spent the last seven years photographing Oman’s underwater world.

Michel Claereboudt is Professor of Marine Ecology at the Department of Marine Sciences and Fisheries at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat. He is an internationally recognised authority on corals and echinoderms and continues to research the ecology and biology of corals and other reef invertebrates.

Michel has been living in Oman since 1997 where he has made thousands of dives and has an intimate knowledge of Oman’s underwater world that few can equal. He is also an underwater photographer.

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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The Rescue – available on Disney+ tomorrow (Watch Trailer)

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If you missed the recent cinema debut of The Rescue film, you can watch it on streaming channel Disney+ from tomorrow December 3rd.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo), The Rescue is the edge-of-your-seat account of the rescue of 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave system in 2018.

The Rescue chronicles the dramatic rescue of the boys and their coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Academy Award®-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of the rescuers, and the dedication of an entire community that made great sacrifices to save these young boys. An outing to explore a nearby system of caves after soccer practice transformed into a two-week saga of survival and a story that would capture the world’s attention. With exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the rescue, the film tells the story of the imagination, determination and unprecedented teamwork displayed during this heroic edge-of-your-seat mission with life-or-death stakes.

Check back for our review of The Rescue soon!

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Guardian investigation finds endangered sharks for sale in Taiwan

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A field investigation into Taiwan’s shark fin industry was conducted by Shark Guardian between December 2020 and March 2021. The investigation obtained documentary evidence of fins from endangered shark species being openly offered for sale by over half of all shark fin traders surveyed in Taiwan’s southern fishing port of Kaohsiung.

Of the 13 shark fin processing and trading companies visited, more than half were found to be trading CITES- listed fins, and seven had shark fins from CITES Appendix II-listed species as part of their product range. One company saidthere was no difference in selling protected or unprotected species. Protected sharks’ products usually create a problem for international shipping only.”

The new report details how seven out of thirteen traders surveyed in Taiwan were found to be selling shark fins from silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, mako sharks, thresher sharks and great white sharks in broad daylight – in contravention of Taiwanese and international law.

Over a three-month period, Shark Guardian investigators witnessed multiple shipments of shark fins from endangered species being unloaded at Donggang fish market which is in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung.

Alex Hofford, Marine Wildlife Campaigner with Shark Guardian, said “To save sharks and the marine environment, Taiwanese authorities should implement an immediate crackdown on its cruel and unsustainable shark fin trade, and should tighten up local laws to ban the domestic sale of shark fin as well as better enforce its international obligations under CITES. It is also high time that the Taiwanese government should rein in its out-of-control distant water tuna fishing fleet, who are a major supplier shark fin to Chinese markets. Whilst Taiwan is a beacon of democratic and progressive values in Asia, it is allowing its unsustainable and often crime-ridden fisheries sector to rape and pillage our ocean with impunity. This must stop. Taiwan needs to show leadership in environmental protection and must quickly clean up its act as regards its sleazy shark fisheries and trade sectors.”

During our investigation, Shark Guardian also found evidence of Taiwan-based online retailers selling fins of endangered species of shark in contravention of local and international law.

According to WWF, a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, yet fishing and trading in unsustainable shark fin remains a highly profitable, but environmentally destructive, enterprise for Taiwanese companies operating out of Kaohsiung.

Brendon Sing, Co-Director of Shark Guardian said “Clearly more must be done to protect sharks globally. There are over 500 known shark species with only a handful of them listed under CITES. Even then, CITES listed sharks are still traded illegally where monitoring and enforcement lack any power and expose loopholes in the system. As long as this continues, there is no real protection for any shark species regardless of CITES listing or not. Taiwan must be responsible and take positive action in response to this report.”

Shark Guardian believes that excessively large profit margins are the main reason why Taiwan has never acted to rein in its shark fisheries and trade.

Shark Guardian hopes that Taiwan can apply its progressive values towards preserving the marine environment by imposing a comprehensive ban on the physical and online selling all species of shark fin in Taiwan. Such a ban would go above and beyond what is required under international law, and Taiwan’s domestic laws can be changed with public support.

For more information about Shark Guardian visit their website by clicking here.

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

Price NOW from just £975 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from London 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.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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