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Dancing with Mantas and an unexpected whaleshark

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Our final day on this epic trip diving the Archipelago Revillagigedo was to be on the famous San Benedicto dive site called The Boiler. An impressive, three stage pinnacle that peaks just below the surface. Having watched video clips and looked at so many images from this dive site in the past, we knew anything could happen here, given a bit of luck. Our diving day meant that we would fit in 4 dives before we started the long journey back to the mainland.

It was just one of those days. On the first dive, we explored the rock, and then, after about 20mins, a Giant Manta came to see us. Whilst on this trip, the crew have given us a series of talks about these amazing creatures and we have learnt a lot about them. They have huge brains, and whilst it might seem hard to believe, they seem to want to communicate with us. This first encounter of the day certainly made us believe! This gentle, but enormous, fish came up to each diver individually. Caroline decided to try to engage it and stretched her arms and camera out wide. The manta instantly responded by stopping, spreading it wings and hovering vertically in the water right in front of her. Caroline wiggled one arm, and the manta unfurled its cephalic lobe and wiggled it right back. All the while, this beautiful creature intensely kept eye contact. It was an amazing moment. The dive deck was buzzing after this first dive, with all 5 groups getting a close encounter with this and other mantas.

The second dive was even better, if that was possible, because our skipper dropped us right on a whaleshark, literally! It is not the season for whalesharks here, but this juvenile, around 4 meters in length, did a couple of tours of the rock before heading back out into the blue. Nick, descending and whilst still sorting his camera, got bumped by the biggest fish in the sea, and grabbed a shot of its tail as it continued slowly around us. Then 4 or 5 Giant Mantas turned up too and it was hard to know where to look. We hovered at around 15 meters and the mantas circled around us, shivering their wings in our bubbles, pulling flying stunt manoeuvres, and, seemingly enjoying our company.

The day simply could not continue like this could it? Well no…. the current picked up and whilst we did see another manta on our third dive, we simply could not swim against the moving water and ended up out in the blue, drifting quickly. We deployed our SMBs and headed back up to the surface. But the joy of the previous two dives was still very much with us, and so we happily returned to the boat to relax for an hour or so.

Our final dive was upon us. It delivered another incredible manta encounter and another drift out into the blue. We have done 23 dives and one night snorkel with silky sharks during our 6 days of diving on Nautilus Belle Amie. The group has seen an incredible number of sharks: Whitetip, Silvertip, Tiger, Whale, Galapagos, Hammerhead and Silky Sharks. We have seen dolphins, tuna, jacks and Wahoo. And, of course, we have seen the Giant Mantas, in both their Chevron and Black forms. But this final day of diving was truly awesome.

www.nautilusliveaboards.com

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

www.visitmexico.com

For more from Nick and Caroline, visit 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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Announcing the Winners of Scubaverse.com’s February 2021 Underwater Photo & Video Contests

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Another great month packed with amazing images and videos! Record numbers from around the world in both competitions. It has certainly been another great month for entries in both contests – your underwater photos and videos are just getting better and better! Thanks to all who entered.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s February 2021 Underwater Photo Contest is, click here.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s February 2021 Underwater Video Contest is, click here.

If you’re not a winner this month, then please do try again. March’s photo and video contests are now open.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s March 2021 Underwater Photo Contest, click here.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s March 2021 Underwater Video Contest, click here.

Good luck!!!

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New Underwater Museum in Cannes

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A new underwater museum has opened in Cannes, France this month. Funded by the Mairie de Cannes and commissioned by its mayor, David Lisnard, the project took over 4 years to develop and is the work of British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor.

The Museum is Jason de Caires Taylor’s first installation in the Mediterranean Sea. It follows on from his previous work, the most famous of which is the world’s first underwater sculpture park – the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada in the Caribbean.

The Museum in Cannes features a series of six monumental three-dimensional portraits, each over two metres in height and ten tons in weight. They are sited near the island of Sainte-Marguerite, one of the Lérins Islands, just off the coast of Cannes. Placed at a depth of between two and three metres, these artworks rest on areas of white sand, in-between oscillating posidonia sea grass meadows in the protected southern part of the island. The shallow depth and close proximity to shore make the site easily accessible, and the crystal-clear waters provide ideal conditions for snorkelling. This is the one museum you can access in a socially-distant way, wearing a scuba mask over your eyes rather than a mask over your mouth.

The six works are based on portraits of local members of the community, covering a range of ages and professions, for example, Maurice – an 80 year old local fisherman –  and Anouk – a 9- year old primary school pupil. Each face is significantly upscaled and sectioned into two parts, the outer part resembling a mask. The theme of masks connects to the history of Île Sainte-Marguerite, well known as the location where the Man with the Iron Mask was imprisoned. Cannes, through its famous annual film festival, is well known for its relationship with the performing arts.

The location of the sculptures was previously an area of disused marine infrastructure. Part of the project was a significant clearing of the site, removing marine debris such as old engines and pipelines to create a space for the installation of artworks which have been specifically designed, using Ph neutral materials, to attract marine fauna and flora. The site has now been cordoned off from boats, making it safe for snorkellers and divers, and preventing damage by anchors to the seagrass meadows. Posidonia grass is a vital habitat area and is sometimes referred to as the lungs of the ocean for the vast amount of oxygen it creates. With all his projects, Jason aims to draw attention to the sea as a fragile biosphere in urgent need of protection.

The split mask is a metaphor for the ocean. One side of the mask depicts strength and resilience, the other fragility and decay. From land, we see the surface, calm and serene, or powerful and majestic. This is the view of the mask of the sea. However below the surface is a fragile, finely-balanced ecosystem – one which has been continuously degraded and polluted over the years by human activity.

You can find out more about The Museum and Jason de Caires Taylor at www.underwatersculpture.com or on Instagram – #jasondecairestaylor.


Images: @jasondecairestaylor – www.underwatersculpture.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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