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The sea life of Cornwall under a magnifying glass

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Cornwall

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 Conservation editor and also the Underwater Videography Editor for Scubaverse.com. Jeff is an award winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

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Mares & SSI launch new promotion

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SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.


The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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