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Ends of the Earth: Diving in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina (Watch Video)

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Just occasionally you find yourself given the opportunity to do something you never thought you would get to do in your lifetime.  For me, that was diving in the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia in the Tierra Del Fuego province of Argentina.

Ushuaia is the most southerly city in the world, El Fin del Mundo, the “End of the World”, flanked by mountains to the north and the Beagle Channel to the south.  Mike and I had spent the last few months travelling South America, from backpacking Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, we had travelled by campervan down through Chile and into Argentina.  We hadn’t originally planned on going so far south, but we had read about a dive center offering tours out of Ushuaia and couldn’t resist the draw of Tierra Del Fuego, where the Andes meet the ocean.

Leaving our trusty camper behind we boarded a flight to Ushuaia.  It is an interesting city, with good accomodation, great restaurants and quite a lot of tourist shops.  It also feels like the last stopping point before the wilds.  Ushuaia is the stepping-off port for most of the commercial expeditions to Antarctica.  There is a grittiness to it that I have experienced in other working port towns and this combined with the backdrop of snow capped mountains and ‘end of the earth’ feel really added to the experience.  The nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park also offers some really nice hiking paths and wildlife viewing.

As near as we could find out there was really only one option for local dives: Ushuaia Divers. The day before our dives, we headed down to the harbour to meet with the dive shop owner/operator Carlos to sort out paperwork and finalise timings for the following day.  It was a very small small operation (really just Carlos along with an occasional assistant or DM), but we could tell he really knew all of the dive sites in the Beagle Channel.  As an added bonus, his rental drysuits were a stunning bright orange … great for photographs! Carlos was very pleasant and enthusiastic about the forecast for the next days diving.  It gets very windy here, very often, so you take the dive days when they come!

After a good nights sleep, despite the excitement, we returned to the dive center the next day to get kitted up into our wonderfully Orange drysuits.  Really very Orange and importantly very warm, due to the thick neoprene.  Surrounded by that much neoprene, moving was less of a walk and more of a waddle after that, but I figured we were in penguin territory, so it was ok.

Boarding a fast RIB, we set off out of the harbour and into the Beagle Channel, with great views of the lighthouse as we whizzed by to our first dive site Iturrieta.

We descended into the cold (around 3ºC) water and found ourselves in a mini kelp forest.  After a few moments acclimatising, we headed off exploring round the rocks and through the kelp.  There were sea stars, urchins and nudibranchs everywhere.  I have seldom seen so many nudibranchs in such a small area!  It was a fabulous dive, but not a very long one, as we were both getting pretty chilled by the 45 minute mark and struggled to undo our gear with numbed fingers to pass it up onto the boat.  The staff soon had us back on board and a hot drink in everyone’s hands.

After a fairly short surface interval (the dives were both shallow and the breeze does nothing to warm you up) we headed to our second site of the day, Islas Bridges. Thick kelp patches and huge king crabs were the star attractions.  Plenty of smaller crab species, nudibranchs and other mollusks call the kelp home and we were amazed by the numbers of huge sea urchins.  Our visit in November was in a shoulder season so the weather and sea conditions were not the best.  Nonetheless we enjoyed our taste of southern hemisphere diving and could tell that the area had great potential.  At other times of the year you can dive with fur seals, see whales, penguins and orcas from the boat, or even get a lucky glimpse of a cormorant hunting small fish underwater.

It was a short but very worthwhile trip for us and though Mike had to stop me trying to stowaway on an Antarctica trip, we can happily say we travelled as far as we could to explore the underwater world at the “End of the World”.  If you are planning a trip along the Andes, the flight to Ushuaia is an affordable and really unique experience that we highly recommend.  It is also possible to drive there, but it is a long drive on small roads and so a great deal more time and planning would be required.


For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

CJ and Mike are dive instructors who have travelled all over the world pursuing their passion for the underwater world. CJ is a PADI MI and DSAT Trimix instructor with a degree in Conservation biology and ecology, who has been diving for 15 years. She loves looking for critters and pointing them out for Mike to photograph. Mike is a PADI MSDT who got back into diving in 2010. He enjoys practicing underwater photography and exploring new and exciting dive locales, occasionally with more than one tank. Follow more of their diving adventures at www.bimbleintheblue.com.

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Fourth Element 3mm Neoprene Gloves (Watch Video)

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In a video shot exclusively for Scubaverse.com, Jeff Goodman reviews the 3mm Neoprene Gloves from Fourth Element.

For more information, visit www.fourthelement.com

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Veterans take part in Hadrian’s Wall trek to raise funds for their ‘Red Sea family’

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A group of veterans from Scuba Diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy have pledged to take part in a 40 mile expedition-style trek along historic Hadrian’s Wall this July to raise funds for the staff at Egyptian dive centre and resort Roots Red Sea.

The dive centre in El Quseir has been closed since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic last Spring and with Egypt now on the red list for UK travellers it is unlikely to be able to re-open in the near future. UK couple Steve and Clare Rattle, who own Roots Red Sea, have been supporting the 16 staff of the dive centre and their families but faced with an ever increasingly uncertain future, the Deptherapy beneficiaries wanted to add their support too.

Roots Red Sea is Deptherapy’s home from home in Egypt and the location where the charity’s majority of overseas training courses and expeditions are held. The facilities at the Egyptian dive centre and resort are a perfect fit for the charity offering an ideal combination of self-contained and fully adapted accommodation, as well as a team of highly trained staff.

Deptherapy normally runs 2-3 trips to Roots Red Sea each year but recent and planned trips continue to be a casualty of Covid. For the time being, training has shifted to UK waters, but their Egyptian family is never far from the minds of the Deptherapy Team.

“We’re hoping to raise £3,000 for the staff at Roots to support their families due to hardship caused by the pandemic,” explains Tom Oates, Deptherapy Divemaster, Ambassador and former Scots Guard.

“Deptherapy has been a lifeline for so many of us beneficiaries and an essential part of that journey has been our scuba diving adventures at Roots Red Sea. We view the staff at Roots as part of our extended families. They have become close friends. The welcome, service and care we are shown is unbelievable but now it is our turn to give something back. The staff at Roots have given us everything and have helped to save and change our lives. Now, they need our support.”

“This is an amazing endeavour from the guys at Deptherapy,” says Steve Rattle, who is organising the logistics of the trek which is planned to stretch over several days. “We have supported the charity for many years; it’s always been a delight to have them come to Roots and to see them really benefit from the experience. Now the tables are turned, and it is the families of Roots that are in need of help. It is really humbling to have Team Deptherapy now raising money for them. Awesome effort!”

The fundraiser is scheduled to take place from 12th -16th July 2021 starting from Heddon on the Wall in the east to Lenercost in the west. The route has been designed to take in a variety of features including many historical sites such as the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead.

Please give generously to sponsor Team Deptherapy in their quest to raise £3000 for the families of Roots Red Sea at the special JustGiving Page: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rootsredseafundraiser

For more information about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

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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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