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Do something EXTRAORDINARY

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A few years ago, I saw a BBC documentary that prompted a life reinvention. The documentary was about two marine biologists living in Tofo, Mozambique, studying Manta Rays and Whale Sharks.  I was captivated by the Mantas… I had never seen one while diving or snorkeling before, only through binoculars on the surface of the water.  Having already had some experience with Whale Sharks, I was also extremely interested in their ecology.  The scientists, Dr. Andrea Marshall (aka Queen of Mantas) and Dr. Simon Pierce, were studying these species which at that time were so abundant in Mozambique waters (Sadly, the populations are now significantly impacted by unsustainable fishing practices). Their organization is Marine Megafauna Foundation (marinemegafauna.org).

I began searching for dive trips where I could do some volunteer work, even to just do fish counts. All Out Africa (www.alloutafrica.com) had a program working with Whale Shark Identifications and fish population counting in Tofo, Mozambique… helping with the whale shark program I had seen on the documentary!  I thought, why can’t I do that?  It was for adults, not a high school or college program or a gap year, but for adults.  My family had a few reasons they did not want me traipsing off to Africa by myself, and I suppose there were some good reasons among them, but I made the decision to go.  I booked my trip.

Tam A

It appears crazy, absolutely nuts, to pick up and head off to Africa for 6 weeks by yourself, to live in an unpopulated area where there are no doctors, and the closest thing to a town, Inhambane, was at least an hour away.  Was there a Decompression chamber in case of getting “the bends”, or decompression sickness?  No. The closest one was in Johannesburg.  Not a hop skip and a jump away.  The message? Don’t get sick.

So off I went, a midlife woman with a passion for diving and animals, off on my very own adventure. It was the best gift I ever gave myself.  I was tested physically (I’ve had two back surgeries and a few other physical limitations), and I was tested mentally… the experience empowered me, and helped me appreciate my abilities in an entirely new way. The trip was challenging, the environment both exhilarating and disturbing, and certainly the living standard was not what I was used to.

Diving in rough water was a new experience because the currents and surges off of Mozambique are strong. The water is cold.  It took me a few dives to get comfortable, and truthfully, my first two dives were pretty awful.  But, I adapted. I learned. I stayed in a house of volunteers, sharing a bathroom with the house and a bedroom with a roommate, and ended up with some close friendships even though I was the oldest one there, most of the volunteers being Europeans in their twenties. I have seen these friends since the trip, we keep in touch, and we have enjoyed diving together in other locales. I also went on another “citizen science” trip just this year, to Ecuador. I can’t wait for the next one. There will be more “citizen science” trips in the future, count on it.

Tam D

Have you ever wanted to do something you thought was “out there”?  Do you have a desire to get out into the world and make a difference?  There are volunteer programs all over the world for adults.  Most of them have nothing to do with scuba, and there are plenty of them on all continents. I have some advice for you:  be bold. Why not look into it?  Eco-tourism, volunteer tourism, will take you to places you’ve only dreamed of.

Let’s face it:  if you dream of doing something, you’d better do it now. Tomorrow is promised to no one, and in midlife who knows what is coming next?  Do something Extraordinary for yourself, you won’t believe how empowered it will make you feel!

For more from Tam, visit www.travelswithtam.com.

Tam Warner Minton is an avid scuba diver, amateur underwater photographer, and adventurer. She encourages "citizen science" diving, whether volunteering with a group or by one's self. For Tam, the unexpected is usually the norm!

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1

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Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.

We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.

Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.

There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.

We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt.  Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.

Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson.  Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.

A deserted Gatwick Airport at 0900 on 10 October

Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was.  Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.

Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment.  Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs.  The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.

Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.

Corey having a pre-flight temperature check

Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.

Two things to note:  If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive.  You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long.  It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through.  This means two days with no access to resort facilities.  If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.

COVID guidelines

Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements.  A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.

None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre.  Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.

Sterilised Dive Kit

We all felt very COVID secure.

Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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And the winner of our TUSA Paragon S Mask competition is…

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We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win a TUSA Paragon S Mask from our good friends at CPS Partnership!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Lee Evans from the UK.

Congratulations Lee – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on Scubaverse.com right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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