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What an atmosphere: awesome house reef diving in the Philippines

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When I think of a “house reef” dive, images of a dull dive somehow spring to mind. Perhaps it’s because many resorts offer diving on their house reef at a lower cost, that it would appear a house reef dive would be in some way substandard to the sites elsewhere. I’ve therefore tended to shy away from the house reef in preference of boat dives, so imagine my very pleasant surprise when I revisited Atmosphere Resorts’ own reef earlier this year.

Juvenile giant frogfishCrinoid Shrimp (2)I’ve been to the resort several times over the past few years and always love the coastal dive sites of Dauin. I’m a critter nut so it stands to reason that Dauin has become one of my all-time favourite dive destinations, alongside Lembeh, Komodo and Tulamben. Due to my somewhat prejudicial position I rarely dived the house reef and the dives I did make paled in comparison to sites such as “The Cars” and “Pyramids”.  But this year, having read numerous reports about the great sightings on the Atmosphere House Reef, I decided to take a chance and sign up for the dive as part of my 20-dive package.

The change was completely outstanding! The Atmosphere dive team have been cultivating their own reef for the past few years. Not only is there a healthy coral garden for the critters to hang out but the purpose sunk containers are now encrusted with sponges and host to crinoids, with resident batfish and barracuda.

Our dive plan was to visit the containers first, as they lie between 22-30m, and then make our way up the reef slope. It was hard to ignore the nudis I spotted during the descent – but off we headed and what a reward awaited us. A pair of juvenile giant frogfish was hanging out in the sponges, ornate ghost pipefish hovered over the sand, crinoid shrimp and candy crabs were discovered in the feather stars and soft coral. A lovely anemone harboured a pretty aggressive group of anemone fish but we managed to get a few shots of the delightful porcelain crab; and all this was at the first container! Needless to say I didn’t make it to the other 2 before the deco time meant I needed to start coming up.

Orangutan CrabPorcelain Crab

Our guides zigzagged up the reef slope pointing out yet more cool critters. A pair of velvet ghost pipefish was an absolute first for me (and my dive buddies), nudis, jumping leaf fish and crabs followed. The sheer diversity of marine life seen meant after an 80 minute dive another visit was still absolutely necessary! To say I was hooked is a complete understatement. In total we made 4 dives on the house reef, with a sunset dive turning up a pair of harlequin shrimp.

Leaf FishNembrotha Lineolata

Can it get any better? Well the latest reports are those harlies have got busy and produced even more. A blue ring was spotted carousing the reef and a couple of painted froggies have been found on the reef slope. Other sightings include hairy shrimp and pygmy seahorses. The Atmosphere Resort house reef has totally changed my perception and I can’t wait to get back over there next year to discover even more.

If you’d like to learn more about diving in Dauin with Atmosphere Resorts and Spa, Susie will be at the Philippines Stand (#830) at DIVE2015 at the NEC on the weekend of the 24th/25th October. Stop by for a chat – she’s more than happy to tell you about the fabulous diving in the area – and not just the house reef either!

Susie has been enjoying the life of a dive instructor, travelling the world diving and teaching. Susie is somewhat of a liveaboard junkie after working as a cruise director in the Red Sea, the Philippines and Indonesia. She has also led trips to Fiji, Palau, Similans, Myanmar, East Timor, the Maldives and the Galapagos, yet she still finds time to do some shore based diving at her favourite sites in the Philippines too. Find Susie at www.heritagediving.com

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Announcing the Winners of Scubaverse.com’s February 2021 Underwater Photo & Video Contests

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Another great month packed with amazing images and videos! Record numbers from around the world in both competitions. It has certainly been another great month for entries in both contests – your underwater photos and videos are just getting better and better! Thanks to all who entered.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s February 2021 Underwater Photo Contest is, click here.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s February 2021 Underwater Video Contest is, click here.

If you’re not a winner this month, then please do try again. March’s photo and video contests are now open.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s March 2021 Underwater Photo Contest, click here.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s March 2021 Underwater Video Contest, click here.

Good luck!!!

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New Underwater Museum in Cannes

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A new underwater museum has opened in Cannes, France this month. Funded by the Mairie de Cannes and commissioned by its mayor, David Lisnard, the project took over 4 years to develop and is the work of British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor.

The Museum is Jason de Caires Taylor’s first installation in the Mediterranean Sea. It follows on from his previous work, the most famous of which is the world’s first underwater sculpture park – the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada in the Caribbean.

The Museum in Cannes features a series of six monumental three-dimensional portraits, each over two metres in height and ten tons in weight. They are sited near the island of Sainte-Marguerite, one of the Lérins Islands, just off the coast of Cannes. Placed at a depth of between two and three metres, these artworks rest on areas of white sand, in-between oscillating posidonia sea grass meadows in the protected southern part of the island. The shallow depth and close proximity to shore make the site easily accessible, and the crystal-clear waters provide ideal conditions for snorkelling. This is the one museum you can access in a socially-distant way, wearing a scuba mask over your eyes rather than a mask over your mouth.

The six works are based on portraits of local members of the community, covering a range of ages and professions, for example, Maurice – an 80 year old local fisherman –  and Anouk – a 9- year old primary school pupil. Each face is significantly upscaled and sectioned into two parts, the outer part resembling a mask. The theme of masks connects to the history of Île Sainte-Marguerite, well known as the location where the Man with the Iron Mask was imprisoned. Cannes, through its famous annual film festival, is well known for its relationship with the performing arts.

The location of the sculptures was previously an area of disused marine infrastructure. Part of the project was a significant clearing of the site, removing marine debris such as old engines and pipelines to create a space for the installation of artworks which have been specifically designed, using Ph neutral materials, to attract marine fauna and flora. The site has now been cordoned off from boats, making it safe for snorkellers and divers, and preventing damage by anchors to the seagrass meadows. Posidonia grass is a vital habitat area and is sometimes referred to as the lungs of the ocean for the vast amount of oxygen it creates. With all his projects, Jason aims to draw attention to the sea as a fragile biosphere in urgent need of protection.

The split mask is a metaphor for the ocean. One side of the mask depicts strength and resilience, the other fragility and decay. From land, we see the surface, calm and serene, or powerful and majestic. This is the view of the mask of the sea. However below the surface is a fragile, finely-balanced ecosystem – one which has been continuously degraded and polluted over the years by human activity.

You can find out more about The Museum and Jason de Caires Taylor at www.underwatersculpture.com or on Instagram – #jasondecairestaylor.


Images: @jasondecairestaylor – www.underwatersculpture.com

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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