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Carpe Diem: Dive with a Purpose 2018, with the 100 Island Challenge



Scubaverse Contributor Yo-Han Cha reports from his recent liveaboard trip in the Maldives…

It’s been stunning out here in the Maldives. In the first two days we saw mantas and a whale shark – not a bad start to a week on a liveaboard, in fact it was beyond anything I expected. It was a dream start to the trip and Mother Nature and the Carpe Diem staff have certainly delivered.

But this trip wasn’t just about us having fun and enjoying the underwater wildlife of the Maldives, Carpe Diem had us diving with a purpose and we had Brian Zgliczynski and Clinton Edwards from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego who were here as part of their 100 Island Challenge campaign.

What is the 100 Island Challenge?

To quote Scripps:

No two coral reefs are the same, and no two reefs will face the future in the same way. This variability, however, can teach us lessons about how to manage coral reefs for the best future possible.”

The 100 Island Challenge is a five year campaign where they’ll aim to survey 100 islands and to resurvey them every two years to plot any changes. 81 islands have been surveyed so far with some of them have already had their two-year resurvey. The 100 Island Challenge team is aiming to complete 95 by the end of 2018.

One of their main methods of data collection is using photogrammetry to survey the reef – other methods being benthic and fish biomass assessments – but on this trip, there was a focus on the photogrammetry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what it is, photogrammetry is where hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs are processed by computer software to produce a 3D model.

I had come across it before to survey wrecks but it’s not something I’d ever attempted before. This has proved to be an excellent tool for surveying coral reefs as they don’t move, and by surveying the same site over time, the Scripps team have been able to monitor, not just a single snapshot of coral population and distribution but the growth, death and regrowth of the exact same corals in a specific area of the reef.

Which brings us back to the Maldives, with Brian and Clinton here to firstly see if the Maldives was somewhere suitable for the 100 Island Challenge and to test their camera equipment. We, the non-scientist guests, were encouraged to take our cameras and with a brief instruction before the start of the dive, go survey a small coral for ourselves.

Brian and Clinton were using DSLRs and today they mounted two of them together (quite a sight!) in order to survey a section of the reef in a 5m x 5m grid. Nobody else on the trip had a DSLR to take underwater and none of were expected to do a grid survey, but four of us, with four different makes and models of camera, ranging from a simple compact to a mirrorless, went out, chose a coral and gave it a go, not really knowing what the end result would be.

Due to our different cameras, some of us had to approach it slightly differently. I shot in continuous mode and kept the trigger down whilst I swam steadily around my coral. After years of photography where I’ve been told to shoot into the blue for good negative space and to shoot up, the most difficult part of me was to go against my instincts and avoid having any blue in the shot and to shoot down! However, the award for having the most patience and diligence went to Daphne as she individually took over a hundred images of a coral with her compact.

The results for all four of us were in my opinion amazing and I’m not just saying so because one of them’s mine. Considering that due to time constraints Clint processed the images at a lower resolution than he would do normally (Scripps are going to process them at full resolution when they get back to San Diego) and that we were total novices to this, the results were a lot more detailed than I expected them to be, which is exciting in more than one way as it shows that this method of surveying is one that can be easily trained to others.

We’re now, sadly, just over halfway through our trip. The diving, the staff and the liveaboard have been excellent and it’s been exciting to learn how we, each in our small way, can make a difference.

For more information on the 100 Island Challenge click here.

For more information about Scripps Institution of Oceanography click here.

For more information about Carpe Diem click here.

Yo-Han Cha is a member of the Northern Underwater Photography Group and started taking underwater photos with a Canon Ixus 980 IS before upgrading to an Olympus OM-D EM-5 two years ago. He has a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and works as a Network Engineer for a telecoms company, neither of which is relevant to his underwater photography. Well, the job pays for the kit and trips, so it’s kind of relevant. He learned to dive whilst backpacking in Australia as he thought it would be the best way to see the Great Barrier Reef, and when he got back, started diving in the UK as he wanted to dive with seals. He is a member of both Bolton Area Divers (PADI) and Manchester University Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) as he finds it difficult to turn down diving opportunities. He loves going diving and is usually at his happiest when either taking photographs of nudibranchs or of seals. He prefers scenic diving but concedes that wrecks make lovely artificial reefs.

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship



Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”

Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February



There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit

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E-Newsletter Sign up!


This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

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. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email to book your spot!

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