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Dive holiday offers from Scuba Travel

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Here’s the latest dive holiday offers from our friends at UK-based Tour Operator Scuba Travel:

EGYPT

SharkQuest on 9th May for only £1095

Come face to face with pelagics in the Southern Red Sea and save £300 with this amazing offer. Dive with the most experienced team, on board the stable steel hulled Hurricane. Avoid long transfers with a direct flight to Marsa Alam. Dive the famous Daedalus Reef, Brothers Islands, Rocky or Elphinstone dependant on the best shark activity – night diving is prohibited in some of these areas so expect around 18 dives in total. All fees, 12 L tank & weights and FREE NITROX are included in your package.

All trips are fully guided with 2 expert guides. Includes flights from Gatwick, transfers and a day use room and lunch at a hotel on the last day while you wait for your flight home. This holiday is suitable for Advanced Divers with a minimum of 50 dives and comfortable in the blue.

Click here to book your place!


 Book before the end of April and save £255 on this Wrecks and Reefs trip on 15th June

Sail away this 15th June on the ever popular, award-winning Whirlwind for only £1095. This is a classic itinerary in the Northern Red Sea with up to 22 dives over the week. Departing from Hurghada, you will spend 7 nights on board on a full board basis (twin share cabin). All marine park fees, 12lt tank, air fills and weights are included in your package. Flights are with easyJet from Gatwick and transfers are also included. At the end of the week, you will have day use of a hotel and buffet lunch while you wait for your flight home.

Wrecks and Reefs is the ideal itinerary whatever your experience level. A popular route for those new to the Red Sea, the varied depths across dive sites suit all abilities – from novice to tekkie. Visibility is crystal clear and the warm blue waters are perfect for even the longest dive times. Few other dive destinations can offer the same quality and quantity of top dive sites. This itinerary will fill your log book with both wrecks and reefs that are envied the world over.

Book your place for £1095!


MALDIVES

15th September – visit the Maldives and save £100

Wind your way between Male and Baa atolls, cherry picking the highlight dive sites and including snorkelling at Hanifaru Bay on board the exceptional Carpe Vita. From May 2019 enjoy a relaxing three dives a day with the Carpe Vita team including one or two night dives. All diving is from a dhoni tender, with 12lt tank and weights are included and free recreational nitrox. You have 7 nights on board on a full board basis (twin/double share cabin) – cabin upgrades available. Tea, coffee and drinking water are included in your package. All trips are fully guided.

Soft and alcoholic drinks, additional kit hire and any onboard souvenirs are payable onboard. The green tax has been prepaid. Please let your travel consultant know if you would like to prebook any diving courses on board or have any dietary requirements. This holiday excludes international flights to Male airport transfers. Scuba Travel are able to add flights with a wide range of airlines, including regional departures. Please ask your consultant for a competitive quote for any flight option. Do not book any flights until your boat space is confirmed by Scuba Travel. Transfers operate at fixed times.

* prices are subject to change according to availability at the time of booking

Click here to reserve your place onboard Carpe Vita!


INDONESIA

On 24th May, go critter crazy in Bali for £1595 including flights

Save £300 when you dive Tulamben and the incredible critter dives of Bali with the team from Scuba Seraya! Your Bali adventure includes 7 nights in a maisonette on a full board basis (excluding drinks). Enjoy 10 boat dives in the morning (Tulamben region) plus unlimited, unguided shore diving for 5 afternoons. Flights are typically from Heathrow but Scuba Travel can book most major scheduled airlines including regional departure options. UK passport holders no longer need to pay for a visa on arrival in Bali. Excluded are local marine park fees, additional dives, special trips, nitrox or any meals or drinks outside of your full board package.

Click here to book your Bali adventure!


PHILIPPINES

31st May  – save £300 at Malapascua Exotic Dive Resort

Thresher sharks are not the only great diving you will discover with Exotic Divers in Malapascua – reefs, sea snakes and macro life all await in these azure waters. Once you arrive in Cebu you will be picked up and taken by land and boat to Malapascua island. Your holiday package includes 7 nights in a deluxe room on a full board basis (twin share) – optional room grades available. As standard, your package includes 10 dives. Please do ask your travel consultant if you would like to prebook additional diving. The local marine park fees are 150php per day. Special day trips are organised and subject to a small supplemental charge paid locally. Flights are typically with Cathay Pacific, Singapore or Emirates airlines On leaving Cebu airport there is a terminal tax of approx $10 – this must be paid in local currency at the airport.

* prices are subject to change according to availability at the time of booking

Click here to book your place!


CARIBBEAN

Explore the islands of Saba and St. Kitts and save £600 on 29th June

A unique voyage through some of the most exclusive Caribbean islands onboard Caribbean Explorer 2 – dive St Kitts and the remarkable Saba Island with up to 5 dives a day! You have 7 nights on board on a full board basis (twin/double share cabin). Local, social servings of alcohol are included, along with soft drinks. A 12lt tank, air fills and weights are included in your package with up to 5 dives a day on offer (except first and last day). All trips are fully guided with expert guides. The last night Friday dinner is not included in your cruise. The crew will help with reservations and recommendations. Payable locally are the departure tax, fuel surcharge $80, park fees $115, nitrox $150 per week, optional land tours, additional kit hire and any onboard souvenirs. Please let your travel consultant know if you would like to prebook any courses on board or have any dietary requirements.

This holiday excludes international flights to St Kitts SKB. At the end of your trip, you need to fly St Kitts from St Maarten. Scuba Travel are able to add flights with a wide range of airlines, including regional departures. Please ask your consultant for a competitive quote for any flight option. Do not book any flights until your boat space is confirmed by Scuba Travel. Do be aware that if your flight routes through the USA you must have an ESTA prior to travel.

Don’t miss this great opportunity, click here to book your place!


PACIFIC

30th May  – save £1300 and dive the remote pelagic playground Cocos onboard Sea Hunter.

Your trip of a lifetime starts as you arrive at Cocos Island (approx 30-36 hours journey). Here you will enjoy 3 exciting dives a day plus 3 must-see night dives. Your liveaboard package is based on a twin share cabin (full board including soft drinks). All trips are fully guided and include 12lt tank, weights and free Nitrox. During the trip, an excursion will be made to the island. The Cocos Marine Park fees $490 must be prepaid and will be added to your holiday before travel. Onboard, there is a mandatory search & recovery charge of $35, along with additional drinks, kit hire, souvenirs and tipping. Transfer in San Jose are included from the list of approved hotels. There is a departure tax on leaving Costa Rica (approx $35).

This holiday excludes international flights to San Jose Costa Rica (SJO). Scuba Travel strongly recommend you add a night in Costa Rica before and possibly after your liveaboard, depending on your flight times. These can be added to your booking, with a wide range of airlines, including regional departures. Please ask your consultant for a competitive quote. Do not book any flights until your boat space is confirmed by Scuba Travel. Do be aware that if your flight routes through the USA you must have an ESTA prior to travel.

* prices are subject to change according to availability at the time of booking

Book this once in a lifetime trip here!


 To find out more about Scuba Travel and the dive holidays they offer call 0800 0728221, email dive@scubatravel.com or visit www.scubatravel.com

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks: The Oceans Greatest Mystery – Part 3

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Sharks are a truly incredible animal that have evolved and shaped themselves to be the perfect predator which, in turn, has shaped our oceans and the animals that live within it. Sharks have existed on our planet for up to 400 million years and throughout that time they have become one of the most numerous top predators on our planet, they have lived through 5 major extinction events when many other species died out. Sharks have been doing something right all this time, but at this very moment sharks are facing a threat that is so powerful that it is literally changing the face of our planet, and that force is Humans, it’s us. Sharks are being killed at an unprecedented rate, a rate of unimaginable scale. Recent studies by scientists have shown that since 1970 we have reduced Shark & Ray populations by a staggering 71%.

What threats do they face?

Sharks worldwide are currently dealing with a huge array of issues which is putting the whole group at risk. Sharks are being killed for their Fins, Oil, Teeth/Jaws and other members of the group, such as Manta Ray’s, are killed for their Gill Rakers and wings.

Firstly, let us talk about what is potentially the most inhumane form of animal harvesting, Shark Finning. This is the practice of removing a Sharks Fins, usually whilst the animal is still alive, and then discarding the rest of the animal back into the Ocean. The Shark is usually still alive throughout the whole process and the animal usually dies from drowning or blood loss on the sea floor. Shark fins only account for around 2% of a Sharks average body weight which means that 98% of the animal is merely tossed back into the ocean, 98% of the animal is just simply wasted. Now this begs the question what are Shark fins used for? Well, they are used in an Asian dish known as Shark Fin Soup, now Shark fin is tasteless, which means that the fin only adds mere texture to a Chicken or Pork flavoured broth which further begs the question, why use Shark Fin and not something else to add texture. Well, the soup serves more as a status symbol and it is known as the food of emperors and kings, those who can afford and serve Shark Fin at a banquet or party are revered as wealthy.

Sharks are also harvested for traditional medicine, where it is believed that by ingesting Shark parts such as their cartilage or liver, it can give you a Sharks “magical” powers and abilities. The most common rumour is that Sharks do not get cancer, and by consuming Sharks you can also become immune to cancer. This is of course false; Sharks do in fact get cancer and with recent additions of pollutants and chemicals into the oceans from human activities, sharks get cancer now more than ever, along with a whole host of other ailments. This means that by eating Sharks you are actually more likely to catch illnesses and ailments such as Mercury poisoning, due to the fact that Sharks hold a large quantity of such toxic substances in their bodies.

Aside from Shark finning, they are also at huge risk of becoming caught in nets and on lines as Bycatch, this means that they get caught despite not being the targeted species. For example, Sharks are commonly caught on Tuna hooks or in Tuna nets. Unfortunately, in these instances they tend to not even have their fins removed and, in this case, the whole animal is wasted. The sharks are usually already dead after being brought up due to the amount of time they have sat on hooks and usually die from exhaustion or drowning. Sometimes Sharks are killed in sport fishing tournaments as game fish, where people will go out on Shark fishing days and many Sharks will be killed for the chance of beating a previous record.

Sharks are also at risk of habitat loss, in the same way as Jaguars and Macaws in the Amazon, and Elephants in Asia. Human activities such as fishing, expansion, pollution, mining and Global Warming are all threatening Sharks Habitats. Flapper Skates, which are also known as Common Skates, are now Critically Endangered around the UK due to trawling damaging the egg laying sites for this species. The Bimini Islands, which are famous for the presence of a Lemon Shark Nursery, were in trouble a few years back with plans for demolishing a section of the Mangrove Forest on the island, to make way for a Golf Course. Thankfully it wasn’t successful, but if it was it could have put the Lemon Sharks at extreme risk as this is an area needed for the beginning of the lemon shark’s life cycle.

Another factor putting sharks at risk, is the amount of plastic pollution and pollutants in the water. Plastics can block the digestive system of plankton feeding Sharks and Ray’s such as Whale Sharks and Manta Ray’s, and discarded fishing gear such as nets can entangle up Sharks and other aquatic animals. The amount of fishing being done in the oceans also puts sharks at risk from their food supply disappearing, as humans fish the oceans, we are inadvertently removing the fish stocks that Sharks rely on for their survival.

Sharks & People

Sharks are an apex predator in the World’s Oceans, and it may seem far-fetched to believe, but we depend on Sharks more than you might think. Let us start with fish, currently 10-12 percent of the world’s population relies on the Ocean’s fish for their diet and survival, and Sharks help to keep fish stocks healthy by eating sick, injured or diseased fish and holding the toxins and diseases in their bodies until they die, this is why Sharks have such a strong immune system. With Sharks hunting these fish, it helps to keep the stocks healthy and means the fish that we catch and eat won’t make us sick.

Sharks also play a vital role in the Planet’s oxygen cycle, the Ocean essentially acts as a giant blue lung taking in Carbon Dioxide from the air, seagrass beds and plankton then absorb the Carbon Dioxide and release it as Oxygen back into the atmosphere. If Sharks were to disappear then other animal stocks would explode out of proportion and eat all of the sea grass and/or plankton and the oxygen cycle would be hindered. An example is, if Tiger Sharks were to disappear, then the Turtle population would rapidly increase, allowing the Turtles to eat all of the Seagrass, which would mean we lose a key component of the production of our oxygen. Along with plankton, seagrass helps to produce 75% of the Oxygen we breathe daily. Seagrass Meadows also store more Carbon than any Forest on land making them one of the most productive habitats on our Planet.

How can we be better Ambassadors to Sharks?

It may seem like there is not much we can do, but you would be surprised to hear that there is in fact a lot that we can do to help Sharks. Sharks have been tarnished with a hugely negative reputation, a reputation that can make protecting them difficult. The problem is people are told their whole lives that Sharks are mindless killing machines and that if you go in the Ocean, you are likely to meet your timely demise, but we now know that these stories are literally just that, stories. One of the best ways of protecting sharks is to help people better understand them and all it may take is a simple conversation, a conversation where you can debunk myths, a conversation where you can change their perspective. Jacques Cousteau once said, “People protect what they love”, and this saying holds a lot of weight. People will protect sharks if they love them, and the only way to allow people to love them is for them to first understand them, and understanding first comes through education. If people love Sharks, then the whole cycle starts again with them going out and telling people about Sharks. If you are Diver and or, Underwater Photographer, then you can share your experiences and imagery with people, which will allow their perspectives to shift, and you would be surprised to find out how beneficial Social media can be for Sharks, as it’s a place where you can share your images and stories to a very wide audience across the globe.

Another way to help is to not buy Shark Fin Soup or any Shark products, it may be tempting to buy a Shark tooth necklace or Shark in a jar when on holiday, or even to try Shark Fin Soup, but this will only feed the problem, if we can do this then, when the buying stops then the killing can too.

Something that has been realised recently is that Sharks are worth more alive than dead and over a Sharks lifetime, it can bring in many millions of Dollars through Echo-Tourism, compared to the couple of dollars it will bring into a fisherman if the animal is killed. Thankfully, areas that were once Shark fishing hotpots, have turned to becoming areas where Shark populations have exploded, due to an influx of Divers from across the globe going to see Sharks alive and healthy. Places such as Raja Ampat, The Maldives, and The Galapagos Islands have put protections on sharks and in doing so attract divers to these areas where Sharks are protected, with divers going to these areas only further helps and funds the Protected area and allow the work to continue.

A final thing you can do is to write to your Local MP about needing larger and stronger Marine Protected areas, with stronger protections from commercial fishing. As it stands there is less than 0.5% of our World’s Oceans that have complete protection from commercial fishing. Scientists have stated that for our Oceans to be protected, we need at least 30% of our Oceans to have complete protection for Sharks, Fish and other marine mammals, which will, in turn, allow our Oceans to stabilise themselves.

There is still a lot that you can do and if you do just one of these things, you could help change the fate of Sharks and allow them to continue thriving and shaping our oceans for millennia to come.

So that’s it, a deep dive into Sharks, our Oceans Greatest Mystery. A look into their biology, behaviour and secrecy. I hope after this you come away with a better understanding and appreciation for this incredible group of animals, I hope after this you now look at a Shark and see not a monster, but an animal that is incredibly misunderstood and one that not only keeps our Oceans healthy, but also our whole Planet. Sharks are a key component in our survival, and with our help they can continue to be our Oceans Greatest Mystery.


Follow Donovan on Instagram at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

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Safe, Sustainable Travel – How will the new travel normal work for our environment?

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The past year has definitely been a strange one for us all. Life as we know it has changed for good. Our daily lives, future plans, travel and holiday dreams have all changed in ways we never imagined. For some of us, it was a time of reflection, some sadness, some fear, but we all managed at some stage to find some peace and happiness too.

Reflection about our well-being, seeing how the environment has been positively impacted by the lock downs, connecting with family and friends, even if only virtually and perhaps uniting as a global community, we can’t say it’s been all bad. But moving forward, re-opening our countries and allowing freedom of movement once again – with the ‘new normal’ needs plenty of careful thought and consideration.

PPE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT 

We need to consider our health, especially now that many of us are returning to work. We need to make sure we are looking after our well-being and we also need to consider our environment. There are new requirements and expectations set in place, but if we are not careful, we will simply create whole new areas of issue, transferring what we have ‘undone’ during lock down to new environmental issues.

The internet is already awash with images of discarded face masks impacting wildlife and marine life. Even as early as February 2020, 70 masks along 100 meters of shoreline were found on a beach clean in Hong Kong and more recently in the Mediterranean, masks have reportedly been seen floating like jellyfish.

Discarded masks may also risk spreading the virus to waste collectors, litter pickers or members of the public who first come across the litter. Let alone the fact that as a mask breaks down over time into millions of particles, the potential is there for those particles to carry chemicals and bacteria up the food chain.

At Secret Paradise Maldives we are firm believers in sustainable travel and also believe that if each one of us takes individual responsibility and educates just one person, messages such as these will filter through to many people.

Picking up a couple of plastic bottles or bags on the beach may seem a tiny gesture given the global plastic crisis but what if every single person on this planet just picked up two pieces of plastic rubbish? Or better still, we individually stopped and considered our actions and disposed of rubbish and waste appropriately in the first place? The problem would pretty much be solved, or very close to it!

However, we are also realists and understand that this is easier said than done. So, we urge our followers, guests and partners to educate just one person about the new normal. Highlight how their actions can protect the environment and also achieve safe, sustainable travel, be that domestic travel or international travel. Ask them to pass their new knowledge on to another person and let the education and results filter through.

HOW TO TRAVEL SUSTAINABLY WITH THE NEW SAFETY REQUIREMENTS 

Sustainable travel is not just about considering your carbon footprint and who or what will benefit from your tourist dollar, it is also about making considered decisions and green choices when it comes to packing the necessities of travel in the post COVID world.

Face Masks:

Choose reusable masks. They are actually becoming quite a trend with many different designs to choose from. Why not make a fashion statement with them! Let kids wear fun looking masks, like a friend’s daughter who has a big smiley face on hers – it makes her less conscious about wearing it and she remembers to wear it because of the fun reactions she gets.

Keep a few fresh spare masks in different key places, like one in your handbag, one in the car, one at your place of work – this way you are less likely to forget them and need to buy disposable ones.

When travelling consider if you will be able to wash your mask after use. Packing a mask per day may now be like considering how much underwear to pack!

There is also the opportunity to support local businesses and purchase masks locally. Maybe they will become the new holiday gift for family and friends!

Hand Sanitizer:

Washing your hands with soap and water should always be your first option but when you are travelling this may not always be possible.

Many shops are selling handbag size hand sanitizers and once again this means more single use plastic being disposed of.  Consider purchasing industrial size hand sanitizer and refill your handy, on the go bottles.

We’ve successfully changed our mind set with water bottles and refilling them so there is no reason we can’t do it with hand sanitizer.

Disinfectant Surface Cleaning Wipes:

Disinfectant wipes are perfect to clean door handles, bathroom taps, AC remote control, toilet handles and more and it’s worth having a pack in your hand luggage.

Ensure to seek out eco-friendly biodegradable wipes and dispose of them responsibly.

Go Digital:

Never has there been a better time to go paperless.  Ask for electronic travel documents be they transport related, hotel confirmations or tour and activity bookings. Certainly, if the accommodation provider or tour operator are sustainably minded they will not blink at your request.

Not only will you be helping the environment it will also assist you in maintaining social distancing.

Bring Your Own Toiletries:

We may find that hotel properties find that they need to return to the old practice of single-use toiletries instead of multi-use bottles/containers to minimize the spread of germs.

Therefore rather than rely on hotel-provided toiletries bear the small inconvenience of packing your own or decant from larger size containers you use at home into re-usable travel containers. Or check out the now popular natural, soap/shampoo bars that are available which also have less impact on the environment as they wash away.

TRAVEL SUSTAINABLY AND SAFELY WITH SECRET PARADISE 

COVID-19 may have given us many new challenges and considerations to make, even before we leave the comfort of our homes. But this does not mean that you need to compromise on either your safety or on protecting the environment.

It remains about making the right choices and assisting others to do the same. If we all work together sustainable travel and safe travel can work hand in hand, albeit socially distanced!

As with travel in general at this moment in time, regulations and recommendations are constantly changing and evolving so make sure to check out local travel guidelines and listen to the medical experts.

At Secret Paradise we have reviewed all our operational practices to ensure all aspects of guest’s comfort and safety have been accounted for, but without losing the memorable aspects of our experiences and service.


Discover more of The Maldives with www.secretparadise.mv

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Competitions

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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