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Sharks, Turtles & Pigs in Abaco (watch video)

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Another island on our hit list of places to dive that we had not previously visited was Abaco in The Bahamas. This part of our island-hopping tour was to see us landing on the main land of Abaco and then jumping on the ferry to take us to Bluff House Beach Resort on Green Turtle Cay.

The ferry ride is about 20 minutes and they pull up on the resort’s own dock. There we were given a golf cart to use for our short stay so we could easily move all our diving and camera gear from our house to the dock each morning and evening.

We were going diving with a legend over the next couple of days, with Brendal’s Dive Centre, and we were looking forward to hearing a bit about the history of diving in The Bahamas, as well as seeing what these islands have to offer divers.

We were not disappointed. Brendal’s is a family run dive shop, so while mum, Mary, got our paperwork and equipment sorted, dad and son, Brendal and Kyle, were preparing the boat and they soon had us heading out to dive a wreck of the first US steamship the San Jacinto, which sank in 1865. The wreck is broken up and scattered over a large area in shallow water that makes it home to a huge array of marine life. It was a great start!

On the way back we explored a pristine reef, checking out lobster and eels hiding in every crevice as the sun shone down on us on this shallow and relaxing dive. We stopped for a bite to eat in a shallow sandy bay and watched in amazement as eagle rays glided by. Then, to top off an already excellent day of diving, we spent the rest of the day being entertained by the swimming pigs.

The following day, we headed out to do a shark dive, attracting Caribbean Reef Sharks to the reef by hanging fish scraps in a box off the bow of the boat. Soon we had five big sharks, and one tiny one circling us, occasionally letting their senses get the better of them and trying to grab a scrap from the box. Large grouper also hung around in the hope of getting left-overs at the end of the dive.

As we surfaced, the conditions which had threatened to prevent us diving at all, had started to worsen. We feared the worst, but Brendal and Kyle steered the boat towards shore and a sheltered bay and started throwing some fish scraps into the water. Soon we were joined by sharks, turtles and rays in shallow water over sand and seagrass. We were left to decide whether to scuba dive or just snorkel. The storm broke as we entered the water, but a bit of heavy rain was not going to stop us enjoying this experience! We enjoyed the company of Lemon Sharks, Caribbean Reef Sharks, Hawksbill and Green Turtles and Southern Stingrays all in about 3 meters of water. They were going to have to drag us out!

We celebrated an excellent couple of days diving with a super meal back at Bluff House. Alas, the weather did prevent us diving with Dive Abaco the next day, and so instead, Keith gave us a fantastic tour of the island. For us, it was time to move on once again.

For more information please visit:

www.bluffhouse.com

www.brendal.com

www.bahamas.com


Images & text by Frogfish Photography

Equipment used:

  • Olympus OMD EM-1 MKII
  • Nauticam Housing
  • Inon Strobes
  • Paralenz Dive Camera

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

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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.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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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 info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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