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EXCLUSIVE: Mares Facility Tour



Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown from Frogfish Photography visit the Mares team in Rapallo, Italy to see how their scuba equipment is designed, tested, produced and marketed.

We set off to Italy with a real buzz, as we had been invited to visit the Mares team in Rapallo, Italy, to see how the equipment is made and even to try out some of their prototype equipment whilst diving with some of the Mares staff in the Portofino Marine Park. Mares headquarters is based just a short drive to the sea, and it was in these very waters that scuba diving was born. Mares actually have 2 facilities in the region, with one large factory producing fins and masks from moulds. Here a mixture of high-tech robotics is mixed with a traditional hand finish to create the more complex of the fins and masks in their range. In the cool air of the huge hanger-like factory floor, a calm efficiency prevails. Outside, the sun is beating down, and a hair-raising drive along the autostrada sees us very quickly arrive back at the headquarters.

The main building is a large white building surrounded by mature bamboo. It contains a whole range of Mares departments, including engineering, computer programming, design, quality control, manufacturing, sales teams, advertising and probably much more. As you climb up the stairs in the entrance hall, you are treated to a historical montage of Mares adverts throughout the years, as well as some original old school equipment, including the iconic Mares Air King twin hose regulator.

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Our tour guide for the day was Sergio Angelini, the Chief Technology Officer. We met him in his office, where new equipment at various levels of development could be seen scattered all over his desk. For divers that love their equipment and innovations – it was truly an Aladdin’s cave! With various comments along the lines of “you didn’t see that” or “don’t look!” our first stop was into the underground workshops to see some of the long term testing units hidden away from the rest of the departments. I suspect that this is mainly to do with the noise of machinery that, for example, is designed to purge a regulator every couple of seconds until a single regulator had been purged over one million cycles! It would drive you mad to work in this room for any length of time, but it was very reassuring to see to what extent the testing was done. There were also machines for testing the lift capacity of BCDs, the propulsion co-efficiency of fins and to test regulator function at extreme temperatures. At time of writing, there are only two regulators in the whole world that passed the ultimate cold water test (the USA Navy test); Mares make one of them!

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On our arrival at Sergio’s gear room, he put together 2 sets of equipment for us to use while we were diving in the area over the next few days. The majority of the equipment lent to us was prototype equipment in the final stages of testing before it goes out into the market. So we actually cannot tell you about it as we were sworn to secrecy! But we did get to try out new computers, regulators, fins and some other new additions too. Sergio assured us that if we tried to slip any of it into our bags home, he promised that he “would hunt us down like dogs”. We were still tempted – as we did love the new equipment we got to dive with, but in the end we returned nearly all of it!

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The rest of the tour took us around a series of departments all working to create a top catalogue of scuba diving equipment. As we walked into another room, hundreds of computers, compasses and gauges were all lined up ready for final assembly and testing. Mares have another large facility in Bulgaria, which also make fins, masks, BCDs and some of the regulators, but it is in these rooms in Italy where all the high end technical equipment is finally assembled and tested before going out for sale all over the world.

The technology team even have the use of a 3D printer, so that prototypes can be made before expensive moulds and metal parts are even thought about. These prototypes are usually taken diving by Sergio himself, along with other members of his team, to test the new ideas and products. Sergio said “it is all very well looking at the results of all our testing protocols and data, but until I actually go diving with a piece of equipment, I cannot feel how it will perform and be able to say I like diving with it.” So each new piece of diving equipment actually goes diving with the development team before being released for us divers to get hold of. This is where we are heading to next, into the Ligurian Sea, diving with a local Mares partner dive centre, Abyss Diving Centre. This is a really professional outfit, run by Giorgio Canepa.

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Following the coastline on a 15 minute boat ride from the harbour at Rapallo lies the Portofino National Park. This stretch of coastline offers some very good diving indeed, and we dived along coral covered walls, a huge cargo ship wreck and the underwater statue of the Christ of the Abyss in our short visit here. The marine life, due to the long standing and strictly enforced marine park, is abundant, from the tiniest of nudibranchs to numerous bodies of schooling fish.

We did, somewhat reluctantly, hand back all of the equipment that Sergio had let us use for our diving adventures, but we will be trying to get our hands on some of it in the near future! We will also be trying to get back to visit the Mares team and the wonderful diving the region has to offer sometime soon too.

For more information about Mares and the products they manufacture visit

To find out more about Nick and Caroline and Frogfish Photography, visit

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

Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)



It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!


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Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Paul Rose



Next in a new series of podcasts shared by our friends Gemma and Ian aka The BiG Scuba Podcast…

Ian and Gemma chat to Paul Rose. A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet.

He is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. With a proven track record in business engagements, Paul is a sought-after speaker, chairman, host and moderator for industry, government and NGO events.

Former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society(link is external) and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division, Paul is currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions.

He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, he received the US Polar Medal.

Paul is a mountain and polar guide leading Greenland Icecap crossing and mountaineering expeditions and polar science support logistics. He worked for four years as a Mountain Safety consultant to the oil industry in the Middle East.

On his 2012 Greenland expedition, Paul led the first expedition to successfully traverse a new 275km icecap route of Knud Rasmussen Land and repeated his first ascent of the north face of Gunnsbjørnfjeld, the highest mountain in the Arctic.

His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey’s Institute Diving Officer. He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. He remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.

Find out more about Paul Rose at

Find more podcast episodes and information at and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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