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Get ready for Dive Ireland 2016



Dive Ireland 2016

ad9023_img1_largeThe Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone, Co. Westmeath is the place to be on the 5th and 6th of March for Dive Ireland 2016.

As well as the CFT(the Irish Underwater Council)’s AGM and Diving Officer’s conference, there will also be dive companies exhibiting at the two day event, including Scubapro, Mares, O’Three, Aquaholics, Mevagh Dive Centre, Scuba Dive West, Safari Diving Lanzarote, and many more.

There will also be talks and seminars from some of the best known names in diving. Speakers at Dive Ireland 2016 include:

Guest Speakers

Dr Alexander Mustard

Dive Ireland 2016Dr Alexander Mustard has been taking underwater photographs for over 30 years and has worked as a full-time underwater photographer for the last 12 years. His photographs have attracted many awards including being category winners in both the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and British Wildlife Photography Awards. His last book, Reefs Revealed, won the International Grand Prize for the best book of underwater photographs. In 2013, he was named European Wildlife Photographer of the Year as the overall winner of the GDT contest – the first time an underwater photograph has won this prestigious award.

In 2015, he founded the Underwater Photographer of the Year competition and has acted as a judge for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the CMAS World Championship of Underwater Photography. His new book, Underwater Photography Masterclass, is the most eagerly anticipated publication on the topic for many years and will be released in spring 2016.

Alex is a regular contributor to many publications in the marine, wildlife, diving and photographic media, and to date has published more than 400 articles. In addition to various features, he currently writes two monthly columns on underwater photography: IMAGES Column for Sport Diver (USA) and Be The Champ for DIVER Magazine (UK). He was one of the team for the 2020VISION conservation photography project in the UK. He also runs highly popular underwater photography workshops at top diving destinations around the world.

Daragh Muldowney

Daragh-Muldowney-BioDaragh Muldowney’s interest in photography originally developed when he completed a Scuba Diving course in 1992, where he was awestruck by the experience of being underwater.

Without the use of artificial light or filters, his photography aims to present the smaller details of nature that we often overlook. As a result, his work gently reminds us to appreciate our beautiful planet. Daragh is a full-time professional photographer working as Dúlra Photography which he established in February 2003.

Daragh’s commitment to developing his work was further demonstrated when he travelled across the Sahara in Morocco and then trekked across glaciers in Iceland, taking photographs of the opposing climates and conditions. The images from the two trips were launched in 2007 as his first themed exhibition called ‘Sand & Ice’. A couple of years later he took on the exploration of Ireland’s rock pools which was to become ‘Jewellery Box Ireland’s Hidden Gems’, an exhibition that has travelled all over the world.

In 2013, Daragh set sail aboard the Killary Flyer to Greenland to create a new body of work entitled ‘Out of Thin Air’. The collection proved to be the most popular yet, winning the FEP European Photobook of the Year award for 2015 in the Landscape category. In 2015, Daragh was due to return to Greenland, but this time to photograph the icebergs from under the water. Unfortunately the trip did not take place; however, the summer of 2015 was not wasted – Daragh embarked on a trip around Ireland making long exposure underwater images, which will be presented at Dive Ireland 2016.

Dr Eddie Bourke

dr-eddie-bourke_0Dr Eddie Bourke has been diving for 30 years with Viking Sub Aqua club in Dublin and developed an interest in shipwrecks through diving. He is the author of three volumes of shipwrecks off the Irish coast and a photo book on shipwrecks as well as the story of the Tayleur.

He is also the author of the Story of Guinness – the family, the business and the black stuff. Currently working on a history of spying in the war of independence, he is interested in all aspects of maritime and Irish history. Eddie will be talking about the links that are still alive between the Irish today and the 1916 Rising, looking at both the Aud and the Helga shipwrecks and their history.

National Archaeology Society

Nautical_Archaeology_Society_logoThis year there will be more in the area of archeology introduced at Dive Ireland 2016. NAS have come with up a few different topics that will be presented, including the Streedagh Armada cannon discovery in Co Sligo. This discovery and subsequent retrieval from the sea showed how different groups can work well together to preserve Ireland’s historical artefacts.

NAS will also discuss the legislation in Ireland in relation to underwater archaeology and looking at some of the National Archaeology Society courses and projects.

Underwater Photography Speakers

Stewie Andrews

stewie-andrewsStewie Andrews has been diving for 28 years and has enjoyed rebreather diving for 12 of those. He is a recent convert to deep water photography. It started with two years trying to master steady GoPro video at depths down to 160m and progressed to two interesting years of still photography in depths ranging from 64 to 132 metres. Deep diving, in itself, is challenging – however, taking photographs is a great way to document the exploration and share the experience.

The challenges of Deep Water Photography are many. Years of preparation and expense are involved in building up your diving techniques and each dive brings the challenges of long boat journeys offshore – some as far as 75 miles out. The real fun starts with choosing cameras which are light sensitive enough and housings which can go deep enough. The only decisions left are how do you con a diver to model the scene, how do you light it and how many thousand ISOs can you tolerate?

Ivan Donoghue

ivan-2015Ivan Donoghue began diving with Wexford Sub Aqua Club in 1990. By 1996, he had purchased a second-hand Nikonos V underwater film camera. The advent of digital helped improve his photography, but he claims that working on the CFT underwater course with likeminded Irish shooters had the greatest benefit of all.

Ivan has published several articles for Subsea over the years. He has won the Scubadive West underwater competition and was placed in An Taisce’s “Love your coast” competition. None of this would be possible without the friends who have patiently modelled for him underwater, or waited for him to finally surface.

Ivan will happily dive in a puddle… but only if it’s deep enough to take a camera or at least half submerge to allow a split shot. There is nothing that makes him happier than seeing how underwater photography has flourished within CFT in recent years and how it is now one of the prime reasons that people begin or continue to dive.

Underwater Photography Seminar Speakers

Nigel Motyer

8298980Nigel Motyer is a well-known teaching and speaking personality on the Irish underwater photography scene. He began diving in the early 80s and first picked up a camera shortly after that in 1987. Since then, it is his passion for the challenge of underwater photography that has kept up his interest in diving.

Nigel’s photography has been widely published around the world, including Subsea, Diver, Sport Diver, and Dive, as well as National Geographic Magazine. Nigel has travelled widely to a great many destinations over the last 25 years, but most recently he has focused on great shark destinations. Sharks have always been his passion despite being bitten by a rather over curious silky shark in the Pacific in 1995.

Nigel lives in Malahide, Co Dublin, with his wife, Sinead, and their two children, Hannah and Ben. A speaker at many a dive show, his level of photography knowledge – and his absolute passion for diving – will be clearly evident for all to see.

Steve Warren

steve uw stageSteve has worked extensively in the diving media since 1992. Book credits include technical editor of the UK Divers Source and contributing editor to Scuba Diving. He provided images, including cover shots, for Underwater Gibraltar. He has also provided consultancy services to other authors. He was technical and contributing editor of Dive International Magazine and designed consumer equipment testing and major safety projects for it and its successor, Dive. He has also written for Scuba World Magazine, Australian Freediving and Spearfishing News, Underwater Photography Magazine, Historical Diving Times, The Sea and Gibraltar Magazine. He now writes for Diver Magazine.

Steve has been a main speaker at a number of Diver Magazine’s Dive Shows. He has worked as a professional underwater cameraman on the BBC’s Marchioness – a Survivors Story and directed and filmed the diving sequences for seasons one, two and three of Channel Five’s Gibraltar – Britain in the Sun. He was a consultant to the Underwater Channel and is one of the founding team of Your Diving TV.

Brian Stone

CZpQKCzW0AAr_28Brian Stone is a very experienced diver and underwater photographer. Brian is a university lecturer and researcher working in the area of marine image analysis in Dublin City University. He is currently involved with MESTECH, the Marine & Environmental Sensing Hub ( which includes the Irish Marine Institute, the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) and DCU.

Brian is also involved through his marine research with Insight, the Centre for Data Analytics, which is the largest research group in Ireland. The work dealt with in his project is part of the Smart Bay project, based in Galway Bay. This project is a test bed for new marine technologies, ranging from power generation to environmental science and marine biology. This technology is being developed alongside other marine sensing technologies for the purpose of gathering and analysing marine data in order to conduct research into changing marine environmental conditions, conservation and environmental surveying.

Damien McGuirk

downloadDamien (aka Merrow Ti Ti) shot his first roll of film with an underwater camera in 1993, but didn’t embrace uw photography properly until 2006. Since then, he has been a voracious student of underwater photography with workshop trips to many parts of the world with such luminaries of the underwater photography world as Alex Mustard. His work has featured in Subsea and he has been successful on several occasions in having his images placed in An Taisce’s Clean Coast competition.

Nick Pfeiffer

photo-Nick-767x10241Nick Pfeiffer is an environmental scientist, diver and underwater photographer. He currently works with MERC Environmental and is well known in Ireland for his land and underwater photography and for his commercial work in the fishery industry. Recently Nick was featured in the Irish Times with some of his stunning images of the blue sharks which can be found off Irish shores.

Mike Orth

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAHSAAAAJGZlMmI4NDNmLTIxMWItNGNmYy1hOTc1LWY2YzhjNjc2YzRlZAMike Orth is the current President of CFT. His job description on Facebook lists “Irish Underwater Council’s Diving Evangelist”. Mike uses GoPro footage to create short videos promoting the club diving scene – with more footage above water than below. More technical knowhow than artistic skill, he hopes a few dive show attendees can use his hints, tips and advice to create their own advertisements for next dive season. Mike’s compilation of the South east dive rally won the award for best video at the Vincent O’Brien Memorial Competition in 2014.

Dr. Richard Thorn

28c6082Dr. Richard Thorn is a past President and National Diving Officer of CFT and has been diving for over 20 years. He has been taking land photographs for almost 50 years and for the last six, has transferred his interest to taking underwater photographs, with a particular interest in making images while snorkelling and breath hold diving. His photography is a companion activity to his academic research and travel writing, and his written work and images have been published in many magazines, including, in Ireland, Subsea and Outsider. He is currently studying photography at the Open College of the Arts in the UK.

Dive Ireland 2016 will be hosted by Athlone Sub Aqua Club for the fourth time. Entrance to the dive show is only €5 for each day and kids go free. For directions and a look at the hotel, check out

To find out more about the Irish Underwater Council visit




Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 5



Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 5 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

After an evening of chilling out by the pool and in the bar, we are back to the Roots House Reef this morning, with Keiron continuing his RAID Master Rescue Diver Course and enjoying Moudi’s vast experience as he learns more about advanced buoyancy skills.

Not sure where the week has gone; it’s Wednesday already.  A few different things happening today… Oatsie who has just started at Hull University on a Marine Biology Degree Course wants to complete his sidemount course and this afternoon he is out with Guy Henderson to start his learning.  Swars also wants to do the course, as he wants to get into cavern and cave diving.  Swars will start his course tomorrow afternoon and both will spend a day being taught be Steve Rattle on Friday. Hopefully they will both be certified as RAID Sidmount Divers at the end of their training.

Tom putting his sidemount rig together under Guy’s watchful eye

The morning sees Swars and I working with Corey again and taking him through the remainder of skills and OW dives.  He is improving massively but we still have to work on trim and propulsion.

Keiron, unfortunately for him, has Oatsie and Michael for his diver recovery exercises; I am told there may well be an entanglement to deal with!

Conditions are perfect again as we all look forward to three great dives during the day.

90% of those we work with have mental health issues, mainly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of serving in various theatres of war.  If you read some adaptive teaching manuals, they have a task to ‘teach a student with PTSD a skill.’ Hmmmmm how is Oatsie, Swars, Michael or Keiron any different than a student who is free from any mental illness?  The answer is they are not, they are exactly the same. Do you talk to them differently, do you demonstrate skills differently?  The answer is no.

If they have a flashback or a panic attack, then you need to step back and provide whatever assistance is necessary but only if there is a risk of them hurting themselves.  All our team have to undertake and pass the two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course so we can intervene appropriately where the circumstances require it.

Do you know what a panic attack looks like?  Do you know how to respond to a panic attack?

Flashbacks most frequently occur at night time but some do experience day time flashbacks.  Flashbacks can lead to the individual feeling physically and mentally drained and can be triggered by anything that reminds them of the traumatic incident(s) they experienced.  Sometimes there might be a need for one of our medical team to be involved. Often a period of quietness, rest and possibly sleep is required.

Keiron and Corey on the House Reef

We have seen lots of our beneficiaries learn to manage their PTSD. As Chris Middleton said on a BBC programme:

“You can’t beat PTSD but you can learn to manage it.”

In addition to the scuba diving, Deptherapy also provides 24/7 support for our beneficiaries.  Beneficiaries are encouraged to attend the MHFA course with their partner, parent, relative or friend.

Many will have read comments from our beneficiaries, that once they put their heads under the water their demons disappear.  There are several factors to this: the peace, the quiet and the tranquillity that occurs underwater, the beauty of the corals and the amazing aquatic life.

Roots is very much like a retreat for us, we are miles away from any towns, there are no distractions, the nearest town is El Quseir, which is orthodox Muslim so there is no alcohol on sale.  The recent bypass of the main Safaga to El Quesir/Marsa Alam road means that at night time there is no noise, just a brilliant star lit sky.

Roots at night from the beach

Beneficiaries are encouraged to talk openly with the team and their fellow beneficiaries about their injuries/illnesses and provide overwhelming support for each other as Corey found on this trip.

Our aim is to create a family atmosphere and Roots very much contributes to the sense of family and wellbeing.

Sadly, we live in a world where those with mental illnesses are largely discriminated against.  Because few understand mental health, they are fearful of it and try to ignore it.  Please look at the Mind website or even better sign up to a Mental Health First Aid Course.  If you run a business then run the course for your staff, the benefits will be massive.

Back to the diving, Michael and Tom under Moudi’s close supervision gave Keiron some very challenging diver recovery exercises.  Poor Keiron, but he responded tremendously.

Swars, is working well with Corey, ensuring horizontal trim and making sure he uses effective arm strokes for his swimming. We are organising an SMB session, so he can work with different types of SMBs.

Although we haven’t told him, he has finished all his skills but we still have work to do on his trim and propulsion.  We want him to go beyond standards, we want him to be a very competent diver, who despite his devastating injuries, can self-rescue and support a buddy if in need.

The afternoon dive sees Michael joining myself and Swars with Corey.  This dive is about buoyancy, trim and propulsion.  Keiron is doing some more advanced buoyancy work with Moudi.

All roads lead to Roots, is this the future of Google maps?

Oatsie had a great dive with Guy using sidemounts and is looking forward to completing the sidemount course with Swars and Steve Rattle on Friday.

In the evening, and before dinner, Moudi runs the RAID O2 Administrator Course for all five beneficiaries. It is a qualifying part of Keiron’s RAID Master Rescue Diver course but we decided it would benefit all of the guys.

Tomorrow we have decided to take Corey to 30 metres and for him to complete a narcosis test. Join us back here tomorrow to find out how we get on…

Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at

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Marine Life & Conservation

Reef-World announces 2020 Green Fins Award Winners



The Green Fins Award recognises the world’s most environmentally friendly dive centres

The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is delighted to announce the winners of the coveted 2020 Green Fins Award are:

  • Bubbles Dive Centre, Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia
  • Flora Bay Divers, Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia
  • And Tioman Dive Centre, Pulau Tioman, Malaysia

The prestigious annual award recognises the Green Fins member with the lowest environmental impact. This year, competition was so tight there was not one, but three winners all tied in first place. What’s more, all three of the winners and seven of the global top 10 centres are based in Malaysia!

Rosie Cotton, Tioman Dive Centre

The winning dive operators were chosen from the 600-strong network of Green Fins members by a rigorous assessment of business practices. To be eligible for the award, the operator must have had its latest assessment conducted within the last 18 months. In 2019, the proud winner was Tioman Dive Centre: a PADI dive centre which has been a Green Fins member since 2009 and had managed to hold onto the title again in 2020.

As 2020’s Green Fins Award winners, Bubbles Dive Centre, Flora Bay Divers and Tioman Dive Centre are recognised as the world’s most sustainable dive or snorkel operator, as verified by the globally-recognised Green Fins environmental assessment. Their steps to improve sustainability practices, which have resulted in this recognition as the most environmentally friendly Green Fins dive centres in the world, have included:

  • Switching to eco-friendly products and improving waste management practices: Kelvin Lim, Flora Bay Divers, said: “We switched from normal detergents to eco-friendly detergents, we are encouraging divers to bring their own water bottles to reduce plastic and came up with a general waste bin and a bin for plastic bottles in front of our dive centre. This helps tourists and locals to place thrash that’s been found on the beach easily and conveniently since there are no proper bins along the beach.”
  • Training staff in why environmental practices are important: Peisee Hwang, Bubbles Dive Centre, said: “Green Fins has helped my crew understand more about the importance of looking after the environment. Less educated members of staff would throw cigarette butts in the sea without thinking but they are now keeping their trash to dispose in the bin when they are back.”
  • Upgrading boat engines: Rosie Cotton, Tioman Dive Centre, said: “At the beginning of 2020, we upgraded our last remaining boat engine and now we run 100% with 4-stroke models. The benefits are not only to the environment but also a huge reduction in petrol usage. It’s a Win Win situation!”

Alvin Chelliah, Green Fins Assessor Trainer from Reef Check Malaysia, said: ”Most dive centre managers and owners that I have come across in Malaysia care and want to do what they can to help protect coral reefs. I think Green Fins has been the right tool to guide them towards practical actions they can take. Over the years, we have seen these dive centres put in a lot of effort and work hard at following the guidelines and they have improved steadily as a result. We hope others will follow their example.”

Peisee Hwang, Bubbles Dive Centre, said: “We are thrilled to know that we have won and we are glad that our effort is being recognised. We hope that more operators aspire to join us in pledging for the environment.”

Kelvin Lim, Flora Bay Divers, said: “We are proud to be acknowledged for our efforts to inspire sustainable diving. Our focus remains on cultivating informed and conscious divers with good diving skills and habits..”

Rosie Cotton, Tioman Dive Centre, said: “Receiving the news that we have made the top spot of Green Fins members is a fantastic feeling. Thank you so much to the Green Fins team for your ongoing support! This year has obviously been slightly different to previous years. I hope that something we can all take away from this year is that changes in our daily habits can create shockwaves of positive change around the world in a relatively short period of time. From TDC, we hope you are all safe and well at this time and are able to find some positives despite these difficult circumstances.”

Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re thrilled to recognise Bubbles Dive Centre, Flora Bay Divers and Tioman Dive Centre as joint winners of the 2020 Green Fins Award. Competition between the Top 10 is always tight but the fact that there are three winners this year, when usually one centre takes the title, shows how much sustainability is being put at the forefront of the agenda across the dive industry. So, we’d like to say a big well done to Bubbles Dive Centre, Flora Bay Divers and Tioman Dive Centre. This win is testament to their hard work and ongoing sustainability efforts and they should be very proud. It’s an incredibly tight race to be named the best of the best!”

The Green Fins Top 10 list is comprised of the world’s most sustainable dive operators, as determined by the Green Fins assessment process. In 2020 they are:

  • Tioman Dive Centre, Flora Bay
  • Divers and Bubbles Dive Centre (all in Malaysia)
  • Ceningan Divers (Indonesia)
  • Scuba Junkie Mabul (Malaysia)
  • Sea Voice Divers (Malaysia)
  • Evolution (Philippines)
  • Orca Nation Rawa (Malaysia)
  • Equation (Philippines)
  • The Barat Perhentian Beach Resort (Malaysia)

In Malaysia, Green Fins is run by Reef Check Malaysia in partnership with the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia (DMPM) on the Peninsula and Sabah Parks in Sabah. Membership is not yet available in Sarawak.

For more information, please visit and

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