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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: SurfEars 3.0

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Back in 2019 I was at a really low ebb. I had just been told that I could not dive anymore due to recurrent ear infections causing perforations that eventually would lead to permanent damage. I got home from the hospital, slumped on the sofa, and the phone rang. It was Steve Warren from INON UK and I told him my woes. Don’t give up yet, he told me, I think I have just the people to help – SurfEars.

I tried to argue that wearing ear plugs whilst diving was not safe. What about equalization? But he stopped me in my tracks and said that these would work, he had tried them already on several dives. Could this be the answer that would save my diving career and allow me to continue my passion? Well the short answer is yes!

I wrote a review back then which you can read here: https://www.scubaverse.com/gear-review-surfears/

However, I am not sure that I stressed enough at the time that these earplugs saved me. They allowed me to dive, swim and snorkel in the ocean, and I have not had an ear infection since.

Recently the team at SurfEars sent me the latest design – SurfEars 3.0 – to try out. The earplugs come in a really handy pod that I clip to my BCD so that I do not forget them. They come with a range of plug sizes so you can customise them for a perfect fit. The ‘wing’ tucks into your ear, holding the earplug securely, so you feel they will be secure even when rolling or striding off the boat into the water. You can even use them even when putting on a hood in cold water.

The SurfEars allow you to still be able to hear clearly, as they allow air and sound to travel through, and just prevent water ingress, so safety in hearing instructions from the boat or your buddy is not compromised.

I find that wearing them has not only completely stopped any ear infections, but also makes equalization easier too. They are so comfortable that I never really notice that they are in.

If you suffer from ear infections from diving, then do give these a try. They are the first thing on my packing list now!

For more information visit https://surfears.com/

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News

Top Diving Destinations #5 – The Coral Sea

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The Coral Sea in Australia is one of the most remote scuba diving locations in the world. Only a few liveaboards will take you to this spectacular coral reef – and only during certain times of the year. The basically vertical reef walls come up from 2000 meters of depth in the middle of nowhere. This combination of extreme remoteness and difficulty to get there with very deep water surrounding the coral reefs of the Coral Sea offers perfect conditions for mind blowing underwater adventures.


For more about Matthias visit his social media channels:

Visit www.matthiaslebo.com for more!

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Competitions

A very popular liveaboard, Emperor Superior offers fantastic diving in comfortable surroundings. Her experienced crew make this one of the best for divers in the Red Sea.

WAS £1155pp / NOW from just £895 per person based on sharing a twin cabin including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 25kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox
  • Airport transfers

Booking deadline: Subject to availability. Limited spaces available.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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