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The sea life of Cornwall under a magnifying glass




Jeff Goodman introduces a short film by Bill Bowen

I met Bill only a month or so ago. At 77 years old he still dives, and I look forward to seeing some Cornish reef life with him this coming summer. Bill has been diving since his early teenage years, so that must be around 63 years, and in that time he has seen the fantastic advancement in diving equipment and technology. We sat in my kitchen at home with a cup of coffee and talked about the early days of our diving experiences, sharing stories of home made camera housings and lights. Sections of plastic drain pipes always made perfect camera housings and car headlights, although big, were great for underwater lighting. We laughed at the constant repairs we had to make to our homemade wetsuits and then the pure joy when dry suits became available.

Bill still uses his Sony VX700 camera in an Amphibico Buddy housing and although they are now quite dated they still produce good quality images. For a while in the late nineties, I was using the Sony VX1000 and 2000 in a similar Amphibico housing, for BBC TV productions, and the quality was exceptional for the time.

I have always said that you really don’t need expensive, top of the range equipment to make good underwater films. I occasionally find budding underwater camera enthusiasts are far too wound up in the mechanics and technology of the latest equipment on the market and are often in danger of missing out on the simple joy of watching and recording marine wildlife, which is very achievable with even the most basic of cameras.

Of course, top of the range video equipment can and should  give superb results, but that’s not the half of it. Good diving skills are essential. Buoyancy control and easy regular breathing will take you close to animals in a relaxed and controlled way. Patience and planning will give you wildlife behavioural sequences that may otherwise elude divers who hurry across reefs in search of something dynamic to film. I watch divers who miss so much wildlife in their hurry to see what’s around the next corner.

With a second coffee in hand, Bill showed me a few short videos he had shot on the local reefs here near Penzance and I had to smile when he told me that for the close ups he simply taped a common old magnifying glass to the front of his housing. I assumed the magnifying glass had quite good optical quality because his video images of the smaller creatures were very good indeed.  Really it was no different from more modern cameras and housings utilising dioptres, but this was so simple and effective as well as being removable while underwater.

The moral of all this is, don’t be held back by technology or the lack of it. Invent and adapt. Pursue your limits with what you have available and most important of all, enjoy.

Here’s one of those videos where Bill made use of that magnifying glass:

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.


Get moving with the new RAID DPV training programs



The thrill of speeding through the water behind a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) is an experience that really gets the blood racing. Using a DPV provides divers both immense fun and the means to achieve goals that would be impossible without their use.

RAID is proud to announce the new two-tier DPV training program with certifications for DPV and Advanced DPV.

Why DPV and why now?
Recreational and technical divers are using DPVs to access sites that would be difficult to reach and explore using traditional propulsion methods; to help propel large amounts of heavy equipment; to increase the safety of dives in areas of strong current; or just for the pure exhilaration of shooting through the water at speed and performing underwater acrobatics.

By extending your capabilities and extending your range, using a DPV opens new vistas for exploration and fun.

This certification option is aimed at the recreational diver who wishes to learn how to use a DPV to enhance their diving by using mainly natural navigation.

Advanced DPV
This certification option is available to anyone who is familiar with longhose configuration, has logged a minimum of 20 dives and is certified as Navigation specialty divers.

This certification option is aimed at the slightly more experienced diver with preexisting navigational training and diving on a single, twin or sidemount setup with a longhose. Although this level is slightly more challenging, the more advanced navigation exercises provide an important base for more complex types of DPV diving within a team.

You must:

  • Be a minimum of 12 years old.
  • Be certified as RAID Open Water 20, Junior Open Water or equivalent.

Just visit to put some extra dash into your dives.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Beers raise cash for ocean clean-up



The Driftwood Spars Brewery, a pioneering microbrewery based on the North Cornwall coast, is donating a percentage of all profits from its Cove range of beers to Fathoms Free, a certified charity which actively cleans the ocean around the Cornish peninsula.

Each purchase of the small-batch, craft beers – there are four different canned beers in the Cove range – will help generate funds to purchase a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and fund retrieval dives; every brew will raise the equivalent cost of a fully-funded dive. 

Fathoms Free is a Cornwall-based charity whose day-to-day mission involves dives from their fast-response specialist vessel to recover ghost fishing gear; abandoned nets, pots, angling equipment and other plastic causes severe damage to the marine environment and the death of countless seabirds, seals, dolphins and other sea life.

The campaign to raise funds for an ROV is a new initiative which will take the clean-up work to a new level; the highly manoeuvrable underwater vehicle will be used to scour the seabed, harbours and remote parts of the coastline for abandoned fishing gear and other marine litter.

Project Manager Natallia Paliakova from Fathoms Free said: “Apart from helping us locate ghost gear underwater, the ROV will also be capable of recording underwater video which is always great for raising awareness about marine pollution issues.”

She added: “We are really excited to be partnering with The Driftwood Spars Brewery and appreciate the proactive support of Mike and his team in bringing the purchase of an ROV a step closer to reality.”

Head Brewer Mike Mason personally approached the charity after their work was featured on the BBC 2 documentary, ‘Cornwall with Simon Reeve’.    

He said: “As a keen surfer I am only too aware of the problem of marine litter and had heard about Fathoms Free, but seeing them in action prompted me to find a way of contributing. The scale of the challenge is scary, but the determination of organisations like Fathoms Free is inspiring.”

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

The Driftwood Spars Brewery was founded in 2000 in Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes; the microbrewery is just a few steps away from it’s co-joined brewpub, The Driftwood Spars; both pub and brewery are well-regarded far beyond the Cornish cove they call home. 

You can hear the waves and taste the salt on the air from the door of both brewery and pub, and the rough seas along the rugged North coast often throw up discarded nets and other detritus; Louise Treseder, Landlady of The Driftwood Spars and a keen sea swimmer, often collects washed up ghost gear on her daily beach excursions.     

Louise commented: “This is a great partnership to support a cause close to our hearts – I know the money we raise will have a positive and lasting impact. The Cove range was inspired by our unique surroundings and the artwork – by local artist Jago Silver – reflects that. Now donations from each purchase will contribute towards the vital ocean clean-up taking place right on our doorstep.”

The Cove range can currently be purchased online here, and is available in good independent bottle shops in Cornwall.

To find out more about Fathoms Free visit their website here.

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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email to book your spot!

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