Caroline Worlatini’s Red Sea Reunion aboard Hurricane
We’ve all got those friends you’ve not seen for many years. A reunion sounds like fun, but what if they’ve changed? What if things aren’t as good anymore? I felt a bit like this at the prospect of diving Daedalus, Rocky & St Johns this year.
In my time as a Red Sea dive guide, I was lucky enough to log hundreds of dives in the Southern Red Sea. I have so many magical, happy memories from these sites. My first manta was seen here. I was in awe at schooling sharks. My first cavern dives were in Fury Shoals. The whole itinerary is steeped in dive history for me. But it’s been a good 11 years since I was last there. What if the diving today didn’t live up to the memories? My excitement to return to Hurricane was tempered by these concerns, niggling at the back of my mind, when I stepped on board last week.
I needn’t have worried.
May and June must be hands down the best months to dive the southern Red Sea. Ok… maybe I need to qualify that a bit. They have been in my experience the best months for manta sightings and often for hammerheads too. I admit, the adrenalin rush of oceanics later in the summer is quite something – and for many divers the zenith of the Red Sea calendar. Threshers and silkies tend to be better in the winter months. I’ve travelled much farther to find both shark species… and had less success when I think of it! But there’s something about Spring that brings the twin delights of rays and sharks together. After the dark winter months of the UK, to jump in with playful and curious pelagics is a sheer joy.
Daedalus was on fire. The water around the north tip was thick with plankton and we had virtually no current. A school of around 6 hammerheads cruised in to check us out, slowly passing by. Yet the mantas were really stole the show. Manta are always a bit hit and miss in the Red Sea. You just need to be in the right place at the right time. No denying it – that place in May is Daedalus. We must have seen at least 5 individuals, from a small 1m to a whopping 3m+, from 30m to 5m. Within the first 6 minutes of one dive we had seen a gray, 2 threshers, hammerheads and manta. I almost got out. Glad I didn’t though. The manta would swoop in, barrel roll in front of divers and then swoop off again. A single hammerhead tried to get in on the action, cutting in between the manta and divers. “Look at me”, she cried,”I’m cool too!” A dive buddy of mine has logged several thousand dives around the globe, but on that single dive saw most of the big fish that had thus far eluded him. It was with a heavy heart that the boat left Daedlus to carry on our itinerary
If like me you are an ardent reef diver, it really doesn’t get much better than Zabagad, St Johns and Fury Shoal. The hard coral pinnacles at Zabagad are breath taking. I could spend hours in the coral gardens in Fury Shoal, especially Abu Galawa Soraya. Hard corals are supposed to be that bit extra sensitive to adverse conditions. By the condition of the Southern Red Sea, she is in amazing health! Blues, yellows, greens, surrounded by fusiliers, banner and butterfly fish and of course vast clouds of anthias. As we drifted down the walls of St Johns, swathes of anthias and glass fish floated around you, only to suddenly dart into the wall as the trumpet fish raced in on the hunt for lunch.
Jump in at St Johns caves and be sure to spend a few minutes with the resident napoleon. Their eyes fascinate me, watching you from every angle. We did several sites where you have “cave” dives. They aren’t really caves in the true sense, but more caverns where the reef has cracked open. For someone like myself with a camera, the rooms of dark and light are a playground. Our small group of photo mad divers didn’t tend to go very far and buddy Brian was an ever patient model here! Blue spotted sting rays dart across the bottom while hatchet fish lurk in the gloom. I think these were some of the most popular dives of the week… after the manta!
Hurricane is always a delight to dive from. Her steel hull really does make the sailing so much more comfortable. We had good weather, and there was barely a roll as we ate en route between sites. She’s easy to get on and off and the two zodiacs are some of most generous I’ve come across in the Red Sea. But, as every diver really knows, it is the crew that makes a trip work and my thanks go to all the crew, guides and captain. From Adel and Wahid, our guides, to Samir in the saloon and Red, the all important chef… some of these were familiar faces, having worked with Tornado Marine Fleet for many a year. Others were newer recruits to the team. But all welcomed us with a genuine smile and could not have worked harder to cater for our every needs. Let’s not forget the dive deck team. The zodiac drivers were brilliant and ever present and I never put my fins on myself once.
At the end of the week, I had once again fallen well and truly for the charms of the southern Red Sea. It’s the range of diving that keeps me coming back for me. From the biggest sharks and rays at one location, to hunting for nudis on in a colourful coral garden. The happy thoughts of the dives kept me smiling all the way back to Gatwick.
There are still some places left on Hurricane this year – so if you fancy an amazing diving adventure get yourself booked on!
Read more about Hurricane here
To find out more about Scuba Travel and the dive holidays they offer, call 0800 0728221, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.scubatravel.com.
New 60m Reel and Dive Torch Combo from Northern Diver
Northern Diver have launched a new 60m Reel & Dive Torch Combo.
The innovative Northern Diver line reel has a unique design and it has been manufactured from a combination of anodized aluminium and synthetic polymers, to make it strong, lightweight and corrosion resistant. The free-flowing spool has a thumb operated spool-lock, to ensure controlled line deployment and a ‘sprung’ reel handle. Allowing the handle to extend whilst in use, if wearing gloves but springs back to half its length, for easy storage. Supplied complete with 60m (197’) of high-vis orange reel line.
The reel also incorporates an attachment point on the top and rubber fixing band allowing you to easily mount Northern Divers Varilux Micro Dive Torch. Ideal for hands-free directional light, ideal for lining out in reduced visibility (within a wreck). Other torches of a similar size to the Micro may be mountable but you should check dimensions first.
Check out https://www.ndiver.com/60m-reel-dive-torch-combo for more.
Marine Life & Conservation
Reefs Go Live returns for new season
CCMI brings the ocean directly to classrooms around the world through live-stream lessons from underwater
In 2018, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) launched Reefs Go Live, their innovative, flagship education programme that live-streams directly from underwater on the coral reefs in Little Cayman to students in classrooms around the world in real time. For the 2022 season, the four episodes of Reefs Go Live reached more than 107,000 viewers in 22 countries. CCMI’s Reefs Go Live team hopes to expand their reach with four new episodes and supplemental teaching resources to help integrate the material into classroom lessons.
Science Communications & Development Manager for CCMI, Beth Chafin, is excited to be part of another year of Reefs Go Live:
“Knowing we have an audience that spans the world, our team is energised as we plan and implement our Reefs Go Live season for 2023! We feel that creating a connection to the ocean and sharing the beautiful coral reefs of Little Cayman with others, both locally and abroad, is one of the most important ways to increase support for critical, timely issues such as marine protection and sustainability. At CCMI, we are fortunate to have these stunning reefs at our doorstep; not everyone is so lucky to be this connected to coral reefs, but healthy coral reefs are vitally important to everyone on earth. Bringing the ocean into classrooms and homes through Reefs Go Live allows us to share the work we do at the Little Cayman Research Centre, facilitate real-time interactions between viewers around the world and our experts in the field, and inspire the diverse audience to take positive action for the future of coral reefs.”
The first episode of 2023 will take place on Friday, 31st March at 10 am Cayman time (UTC -5h). The episode, ‘Finding Hope on our Reefs’, will feature what CCMI’s long-term monitoring of Little Cayman’s reefs shows us. The data from the annual surveys reveals important trends in reef health over time that reflect global threats and the benefits of strong local protection. Reefs Go Live hosts will explain why this annual monitoring is important and what the results tell us about the future of our coral reefs that we all depend upon. Viewers of each episode will be able to ask questions of the diver and participate in polls through the online platform to make Reefs Go Live an interactive experience.
Additional episodes for this year will run at 10 am (UTC -5h) on the following dates:
Thursday, 11th May: Adaptation on Coral Reefs
Wednesday, 24th May: Reef Resiliency & Restoration
Thursday, 8th June: World Ocean Day – 25 Years of Coral Reef Research
Registration for Reefs Go Live is free and is only required once to receive access to all episodes: https://donate.reefresearch.org/rgl2023.
Reefs Go Live provides an opportunity for students from all over the world to engage with the stunning ocean environment in its most natural format. As coral reefs around the world face unprecedented pressure, generating increased engagement with these precious ecosystems creates an opportunity to promote marine sustainability in a positive and fun way.
Reefs Go Live utilises streaming technology with underwater video and audio equipment to enable real time broadcasting from Little Cayman’s stunning coral reefs. Little Cayman, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, hosts one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the Caribbean, which overall remains healthy and shows resiliency to climate change impacts. The broadcasts and education materials draw connections from CCMI’s current research conducted in Little Cayman to the national science curriculum and key ocean literacy principles, making CCMI’s work relevant and accessible to students and viewers of all ages, and emphasizing the relationship that we all have to coral reefs, no matter where we are.
Reefs Go Live is a free education programme that is made possible by the generosity of The Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. To register for the broadcasts and teaching resources, please visit: https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/education/reefs-go-live/
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