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An Epic Dive Trip to Komodo

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Komodo

Having always dreamed of diving in Indonesia, I booked a trip to Komodo over a year ago. I decided to go with the Arenui because it was sponsoring a Ray of Hope Expedition (Marine Megafauna Foundation) and Dr Andrea Marshall, aka Queen of Mantas, was on board as the resident expert. As many of my readers know, I have been on several trips with Ray of Hope, doing Citizen Science Volunteer work, and I love the Foundation’s mission to save marine megafauna from extinction.

Andrea and I shared a room… and what a room! The Arenui is absolutely luxurious. The stateroom was large and roomy and so Indonesian! We stayed in Garuda, the stateroom named for the Hindu deity Garuda, a large humanlike bird who served as Vishnu’s mount. The carvings in the room were beautiful, as you can see! The Arenui is definitely the most luxurious boat I have been on, and I am now absolutely spoiled.

Komodo

With Andrea Marshall, the Queen of Mantas!

The mission of the trip was to identify as many Reef Mantas as possible. Of course, along the way we would dive several other dive sites too. The diving was out of this world and eclipsed my imagination. The trip map below shows our journey from Bali, past Lombok and Sumbawa to Moyo Island and the Sangeang Volcano, to Komodo and Rinca Islands in the Flores Sea. It was an incredibly beautiful journey, both above and below the surface.

Komodo

Our Trip Map

Komodo

A Manta ID shot I took. Mantas are identified by the spots on their bellies…they are unique to each individual.

Why do I travel with Ray of Hope Expeditions? Because I admire their work, passion, and dedication. Andrea Marshall was the first person to do a PhD on Manta Rays. Until her research, very little was known about them. She discovered two species, and a large population off the coast of Mozambique, where she makes her home. She has advocated for protection for Mantas everywhere in the world. Indonesia, once the main fishery for Manta Rays for Chinese medicine, is now protecting Manta Rays as they have realized they are worth more for their economy alive than dead. Sadly, the once flourishing colony of Reef Mantas off Mozambique has declined by 95% due to Mozambique’s refusal to protect the animals. Manta encounters drew many to Mozambique’s dive centers, and the disappearance of the mantas will have a negative effect on Mozambique’s economy. Andrea has witnessed the decline of mantas in Mozambique over the last 12 years, and it has been heartbreaking. The species is very vulnerable to extinction because of the slow reproduction of the animals. Females give birth every 2 or 3 years to only one pup; rarely there are twins.

Fishing Mantas can destroy entire populations because they are taken faster than they can reproduce. These gentle, intelligent ocean giants must be protected in order to save the species from extinction. Andrea devotes her life to advocating for Manta Rays and other pelagics such as Whale Sharks, Mola Mola, and turtles.

Our first stop was Moyo Island and Angel Reef. I have to say that Angel Reef was heavenly, indeed! My first Komodo dive…and how gorgeous it was!

Komodo

Diving Indonesia was an unbelievable experience for me. The sheer amount of life in the seas is almost mind blowing. Stay tuned for photos and reports on this fabulous journey. I will be posting frequently to show you the wonders of Komodo (yes, there will be dragons!).

For more from Tam, visit www.travelswithtam.com.

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PADI meets with Maldivian Ministry to confirm protection of sharks

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Over recent weeks, there has been speculation about the possibility of the Maldivian government lifting the ban on shark fishing in the country’s waters. PADI®, and the dive industry at large, were instrumental in establishing these protections over a decade ago.

With concern for the continued protection of sharks in the Maldives, the PADI organisation and Project AWARE®, along with 200 concerned local and international stakeholders opposing the lifting of the shark fishing ban, called on the government to continue to enforce the legal protections of sharks. PADI staff met with Maldivian Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture Zaha Waheed to reinforce the position of the dive community and critical role sharks play in dive tourism.

In those meetings, Minister Waheed assured PADI that the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture has no intentions to lift the ban on shark fishing. She affirmed that they remain committed to sustainable and responsible management of fisheries and marine resources in the Maldives. On 20 April 2021, the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources, and Agriculture released a statement asserting that “the Maldives does not intend to permit a targeted shark fishery in the Maldives.”

“Sharks are a dominant force in dive tourism in the Maldives. We congratulate the Maldives’s commitment to their ongoing protection,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “The Maldives continues to lead by example, among the most progressive countries on this critical issue.”

There are currently 17 shark sanctuaries in the world; the first established in Palau in 2009 and others in popular dive destinations including French Polynesia, Honduras, The Bahamas and several others in the Caribbean. The Maldives shark sanctuary was established in 2010 and covers 916,000 km2 (353,000 square miles).

Tourism accounts for an estimated 25 percent of Maldives’ GDP (according to 2014 figures), with diving and snorkeling being the most popular tourism activity. Prior to the formation of the Maldivian sanctuary, shark fishing was worth US$0.7 million to the Maldives’ economy, compared to US$2.3 million from shark tourism. In 2018, the shark sanctuary increased dive-trip demand in the Maldives by 15 percent, raising an additional US$6 million. Consumer research indicates that any re-opening of a Maldives shark fishery could potentially decrease dive tourism demand by over 50 percent, which could result in a loss of US$24 million.

Sharks are some of the most endangered species in the ocean, with recent research showing that the global number of oceanic sharks has declined by 71 percent. Over a third of shark and ray species are threatened, facing an increased threat of extinction, primarily due to overfishing.  There are an estimated 600,000 shark watchers globally spending $314 million per year and directly supporting 10,000 jobs. Research indicates these figures are expected to rise as global tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels.

As part of its commitment to ocean conservation, PADI will continue to stand up for sharks and advocate for their protection. For more information on responsible shark tourism, read Project AWARE’s Guide to Best Practices. To learn more about PADI’s efforts and how you can join the community of PADI Torchbearers working to save the ocean, visit padi.com/conservation.

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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Rosemary Lunn

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Ian and Gemma chat among themselves and are also are joined by well-known Dive Industry Professional Rosemary Lunn.

We talk about dive fitness and entering the CrossFit 2021 open games and being members of our local CrossFit Box. You can also listen to our new member of the team – Rosemary Lunn – answer some scuba diving questions.

Find out more about Rosemary at www.tumc.co.uk.


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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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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