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UK-Based dive tour operator Oyster Diving launch new website

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UK-based Oyster Diving has gained an excellent reputation for its diving courses and club trips. Launched in 2006 Oyster Diving has now established itself as one of the UK’s premier PADI scuba diving schools, winning SportDiver’s ‘Dive Centre of the Year’ on two occasions and ‘Dive Instructor of the Year’ in 2010. They recently launched their exciting new website http://www.OysterDivingHolidays.com to attract even more UK holidaymakers to the thrills of diving and snorkelling. The specialist Travel Centre is aimed at the more discerning customer who wishes to travel to exotic locations and explore life underwater.

Their specialist travel consultants have clocked up many collective years ‘finning’ around the globe, researching the most spectacular marine life and finest accommodation to create the ultimate diving and snorkelling holidays.  Many of these destinations particularly suit non-divers or those who are taking the plunge to learn, as well as providing new challenges to the more experienced diver.

Perhaps you are a newly qualified diver, who has been bitten by the diving bug, and you are looking to experience for yourself some of the great diving adventures that you have heard talked about.  You might be looking for a long weekend break.  Or perhaps you are an experienced diver and need inspiration for your next “hit”.  You might even be a non-diving partner, wanting to have the say in the choice of a holiday that has to offer diving, together with a great location for you and the family.  By a stroke of genius on Mother Nature’s part, many of the best diving destinations offering the most spectacular marine life are also the locations with the nicest hotels and beaches. Oyster has carefully selected each destination to cater for all tastes and abilities, from those who wish to try diving abroad to those who just want to watch from the boat and spend time in beautiful destinations.

Mark Murphy, owner of Oyster Diving says:  “I have long-believed that the opportunity to allow people to experience the thrills of diving needs to be much greater. Not only do we want to attract qualified divers who are already aware of the joys of life underwater, but we are hoping to try and generate awareness amongst people who normally spend their entire holiday with their nose in their Kindle. As fun as though that may be, it’s time they were made aware of this unique and unrivalled experience combining adventure, adrenalin, exercise, exploration, tranquillity and relaxation. Not only that it can also help bring couples, friends and families closer together by sharing unforgettable experiences”.

Oyster Diving has selected destinations that combine exceptional resorts, beaches and attractions with spectacular marine life and reef systems.  Destinations on offer range from the idyllic and family friendly Cayman Islands, home to the world’s most famous shallow dive at Stingray City, to diving with 7m Manta Rays in the romantic Maldives. Hard core divers can choose to dive with Tiger sharks, or head to the Galapagos to dive with schools of Hammerheads and the gentle giants of the ocean, Whale Sharks. Of course no serious diving travel centre would be complete without offering UK favourite destinations such as the Red Sea, Caribbean and Asia.

As well as a continuously growing list of resorts and hotels to suit most budgets, Oyster offer a large selection of luxury liveaboards, allowing divers to explore the world’s finest reefs, ancient wrecks and the most breath-taking marine life.  If you haven’t experienced life on a liveaboard before, there has never been a better time to get fully immersed in this fun, sociable and unforgettable way to explore underwater, offering more dives a day and more remote sites than a resort-based trip.  Oyster offer ‘liveaboards’ in many locations including the Red Sea, Cocos Islands, the Philippines, Maldives and Micronesia.

To make it easier for you to select the right holiday for yourself, www.oysterdivingholidays.com offers a ‘filter system’ which allows you to fine tune your holiday around factors such as the types of marine life you’d like to see, hotel amenities, board basis and your certification levels.   But if you would prefer a personal recommendation, Oyster has helpful travel consultants on hand to help with suggestions.

For people who really like to blow the budget then there is a section titled ‘Incredible Adventures’. These offer people the chance to do genuine once-in-a-lifetime holidays such as becoming an Executive Producer and joining a professional film crew, exploring the world’s top wrecks, or even flying ‘around the world in 80 dives’.

Each holiday package will be tailored around you and your needs.  Oyster’s services include booking flights, boats, hotels, villas, diving courses and packages, travel insurance, airport lounge access, car hire, transfers, travel money and additional once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  They pride themselves on their service, flexibility, resourcefulness and imagination allowing them to create diving holidays that really are hand-crafted to your requirements, no matter how demanding they might be.

The holiday department within Oyster Diving is being headed up by Katharine Bichard. Her career has taken her through many pathways including being a professional lawyer and a private chef. Whilst taking voluntary redundancy in 2009, Katharine decided to invest her redundancy package in travelling the globe and searching for the best diving locations on the planet. As a result, she has a wealth of experience and recommendations, and a passion for exploring underwater.

All customers who spend over £1,000 on their diving holiday through Oyster will be entitled to a free PADI Scuba Review at any of their five pool locations in Surrey, London, Berkshire, Oxford and Brighton.

Why not make your next holiday one to remember for a lifetime and visit www.oysterdivingholidays.com today, or call one of their travel experts on 0800 699 0243 or 01273 384971.

Marine Life & Conservation

Komodo National Park found to be Manta Hotspot

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Through a collaborative effort between citizen divers, scientists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), and Murdoch University, a new study reports a large number of manta rays in the waters of Komodo National Park, Indonesian, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suggesting the area may hold the key to regional recovery of the threatened species.

Reef mantas (Mobula alfredi), which grow up to 5m, tend to reside and feed in shallow, coastal habitats. They also visit ‘cleaning stations’ on coral reefs to have parasites, or dead skin picked off by small fish. Courtship ‘trains’ are also observed adjacent to cleaning stations. In Komodo National Park, manta rays are present year-round, challenging the famous Komodo dragon as the most sought-after megafauna for visitors.

Scientists teamed up with the dive operator community to source identification photographs of manta rays visiting the parks’ waters and submit them to MantaMatcher.org – a crowdsourced online database for mantas and other rays. Most of the photographs came from just four locations from over 20 commonly visited by tourism boats.

I was amazed by how receptive the local dive community was in helping collect much-needed data on these threatened animals,” said lead author Dr. Elitza Germanov. “With their support, we were able to identify over 1,000 individual manta rays from over 4,000 photographs.

People love manta rays—they are one of the most iconic animals in our oceans. The rise of the number of people engaging in SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and the advent of affordable underwater cameras meant that photos and videos taken by the public during their holidays could be used to quickly and affordably scale data collection,” said MMF co-founder and study co-author Dr. Andrea Marshall.

The photographs’ accompanying time and location data is used to construct sighting histories of individual manta rays, which can then be analyzed with statistical movement models. These models predict the likelihood that manta rays are inhabiting or traveling in between specific sites. The study’s results showed that some manta rays moved around the park and others as far as the Nusa Penida MPA (>450 km to the west), but overall, manta rays showed individual preferences for specific sites within the Park.

I found it very interesting how some manta rays appear to prefer spending their time in some sites more than others, even when sites are 5 km apart, which are short distances for manta rays,” said Dr. Elitza Germanov. “This means that manta rays which prefer sites where fishing activities continue to occur or that are more popular with tourism will endure greater impacts.”

Fishing activities have been prohibited in many coastal areas within Komodo NP since 1984, offering some protection to manta rays prior to the 2014 nationwide protection. However, due to illegal fishing activity and manta ray movements into heavily fished waters, manta rays continue to face a number of threats from fisheries. About 5% of Komodo’s manta rays have permanent injuries that are likely the result of encounters with fishing gear.

The popularity of tourism to these sites grew by 34% during the course of the study. An increase in human activity can negatively impact manta rays and their habitats. In 2019, the Komodo National Park Authority introduced limits on the number of boats and people that visit one of the most famous manta sites.

This study shows that the places where tourists commonly observe manta rays are important for the animals to feed, clean, and mate. This means that the Komodo National Park should create measures to limit the disturbance at these sites,” said Mr. Ande Kefi, an employee of the Komodo National Park involved with this study. “I hope that this study will encourage tourism operators to understand the need for the regulations already imposed and increase compliance.”

Despite Indonesia’s history with intensive manta ray fisheries, Komodo National Park still retains large manta ray aggregations that with careful ongoing management and threat reduction will benefit regional manta ray populations. The study highlights that marine protected areas that are large enough to host important manta ray habitats are a beneficial tool for manta ray conservation.

For more information about MMF visit their website here.

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Euro-Divers opens to guests at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

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In celebration of Euro-Divers’ 50 Years of Diving with Friends in the Maldives, the team have opened a new PADI 5 Star Dive Center at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives.

Alila Kothaifaru Maldives retreat lies at the northern edge of the Maldives in the tranquil Raa Atoll, reached via a panoramic 45-minute seaplane voyage from Male. The island has 80 all-pool-villas, 36 of which are over water with a private pool for your enjoyment and 44 beachfront villas designed seamlessly to immerse guests in the natural surroundings. In support of sustainable tourism, Alila hotels adopt Earth Check operating standards, integrating their environments’ natural, physical, and cultural elements.

Raa Atoll is well-known for the excellent scuba diving it offers. The underwater landscape of Raa Atoll is characterized by a high number of thilas scattered inside the lagoons. These underwater coral mountains are magnets for marine life including huge schools of tropical reef fish, a generous splash of colour, iconic bucket-list-must-see marine creatures including sharks, mantas (appearing during the entire year), turtles, and uncrowded dive sites—a perfect diver’s heaven for beginners and experienced divers. We offer a full range of PADI courses for different levels. From November till March, the Manta cleaning station is located 15 minutes away by boat.

The team from Alila Kothaifaru Maldives look forward to welcoming you soon.

Find out more at: www.euro-divers.com/alila-kothaifaru-maldives

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Competitions

A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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