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Mandarin Magic in the Philippines

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The Mandarin fish has to be one of the most exquisite fish in existence. It has a simply wonderful colouration, pattern and delicacy that makes it a real treat to find and photograph. We have done several dives dedicated to finding these delightful fish that hide amongst both dead and living hard corals and yet have never really had that “wow” moment … until our recent dive with Magic Island Dive Resort in the Philippines.

We had arrived in the early hours of the morning and had grabbed a quick snooze to recover from the long journey, but wanted to get diving and pack in as much as we could on our short stay, so we chose an afternoon house-reef dive and a shallow dive to see mandarin fish mating at dusk. The afternoon dive ensured that all our equipment was working and we were hoping that the dusk dive was going to set the tone for this whole trip. Whilst, in the past, we have seen the male dart around looking for the smaller females in the coral, we really wanted to capture the moment these gorgeous fish rise up, out of the coral, to mate.

It is a challenge for underwater photographers for many reasons. We were asked not to use any lights (not even those with red as an option), as this can make the fish shy and less likely to perform. We were wondering how our cameras would focus in the diminishing light. Our guide, Jason, said that he would use his torch, mostly covered by his hand, to illuminate the fish using a small beam of light, from between his fingers, when the moment was right. So, we hovered over the coral, letting our eyes adjust to the gloom and waited.

We were rewarded with a spectacle like we have never previously witnessed. Rather than just the usual toing and froing of the mandarin fish in the reef that we have seem so many times in the past, the pairs rose up in a beautiful dance above the coral and then in a flash (releasing their eggs and sperm) they were gone. The male performs his courtship dance to a handful of females that gather in the same area, and so we were treated to several of these rituals on a single dive. We were the only divers in the water and, with the dive site only a short swim from the dive centre, and in only 6 or 7 meters of water, we had plenty of time to take in this incredible display.

What an incredible start to our time with Magic Island Dive Resort! Elated, we finished the dive, hung up our gear and headed to join the other guests staying at the resort for dinner. We shared tales of our diving day whilst all sitting together for a wonderful meal, a few drinks and some great scuba stories. A perfect start to our trip.

For more information about Magic Island Dive Resort, visit their website by clicking here.

For more information about the Philippines click 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 supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Dive Training Blogs

Jeff chats to… Richard Corner from Mares about liveaboards and training with SSI (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman chats to Richard Corner, UK Watersports Category Manager at Mares, about the complete experience for all aspects of diving with Mares, their liveaboard adventures with the purchase of liveaboard.com, and the Mares/SSI combination.

Last in a series of four videos.

Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.


For more information, visit www.liveaboard.com, www.divessi.com and www.mares.com

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Dive on with DIVER Magazine’s December 2020 issue

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DIVER aren’t calling it the Christmas issue because that’s all up in the air but their theme is full of cheer – underwater treasures to be found in our own backyards!

  • Be The Champ! Special: An extended 100th edition of Alex Mustard’s revered monthly column – with the cream of underwater photographers contributing their own pearls of wisdom.
  • Gun Sites: Two tales of individual divers’ exciting weapons hauls – in Cornwall and in Portugal
  • Treasuremen of Bermuda: Story behind one of the most valuable shipwreck treasures ever recovered
  • Wreckful of Ming: Tech divers discover a thrilling cargo of porcelain south of Phuket
  • Dad Found It: Our correspondent dives a sunken Roman city in southern Italy 50 years after her father discovered it
  • Deep Giants: A marine biologist tends her gorgonian garden – in the 100m zone
  • Road Trip 2: The dive tour of Europe continues as our long-term trippers have fun in summertime UK
  • Timepieces: They might not be necessities but diving watches are still prized accoutrements – here’s a guide to 25 of the latest
  • Twilight Zone: Experience the highs and the lows of Curaçao – with the aid of a submersible

Download your copy of the December 2020 edition of DIVER here!

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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