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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Back to earth with a bump

Well we had a great time in Sharm as always, we learned some new skills and I got the final shots I needed to finish my next article. The Camel dive center looked after us very well as always with Sven and Pipi providing the icing on the cake for the week. Well done lads.
Neither teenage or mutant but definitely a turtle
I must say though that the weather was doing funny things out there as it's not normally that windy at at the surface or as cold in the water at this time of year. It's the first time I've actually seriously considered getting into a drysuit in the Red Sea. Scary!
Apart from sharks, my most favourite thing to photograph
With crappy weather back home now the only thing we can do is hang on till January till we hit the Caymans. Roll on warm water and sunshine......
"Open up and say ahhh..."

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Success and an ice-cream

Well after another successful days diving, we are now fully qualified self reliant divers. It's always interesting for me to go through a course as a student would to get their perspective which I find helps when it comes to teaching courses.

Our instructor Sven did a sterling job with in-depth dive briefs and making suggestions with regards gas management planning. His TDI background certainly came to the fore the last couple of days and added an extra layer of depth that might not have been there otherwise.

And as usual, sods law, no camera, so we had a nice big turtle bimbling around with us on the first dive today.

I tell you, we better see mantas riding on the back of whale sharks chasing a herd of sea horses for the rest of the holiday, or I'll be well upset!

Still we had a nice ice-cream at the end of the day, so it wasn't all bad.
Sven signs off the paperwork, Jill has ice cream

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

First Day Blues

Well a great first day back in sunny Sharm, pretty involving with rigging up sling tanks, running through shut down drills and getting curve ball problems thrown at you during the dive when you least expect it, but that's half the fun!

Being a training dive, I didn't have my rig with me so no pictures. And sods law, towards the end of the dive we had a nice eagle ray and four squid shadowing us till it was time to go up. Sick as a parrot. No camera tomorrow either, me no happy.

On the bright side we may get lucky and have a chance on diving the Million Hope wreck which we haven't been able to do for the last six years (guides don't like taking divers there due to location and conditions), so fingers crossed. And I'll have my rig with me as well. Let the pictures flow!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

It's here

My new article just hit the newstands yesterday, so rush out now and pick up the December issue of Diver magazine for four whole glorious pages of thick, creamy, wholesome diving goodness which is exactly what you need to warm you up on these dark Autumn nights. Buy it now!
Go, buy, now. Immediately. This instant. Straight away.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Killer Cleaner Shrimp

Some interesting research going on. These things are obviously not as harmless and as photogenic as they make out to be. It's all just a front. First they invite you to dinner and before you know it, *POW*, it's good night sweet prince. Vicious little swines.

"In fact, they found that the pressures to create a stable pair of shrimp was so intense, that any larger group became positively murderous. When they put larger groups of shrimp in a single container, the animals reduced their numbers down to a pair. "Exactly one individual in each triplet and exactly two individuals in each quartet were killed in aggressive interactions, resulting in group sizes of two individuals," the authors report."

 Killer Shrimp Here

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Mystical Reef

Well today was a bit of a landmark day. After diving here many times, we finally achieved thew long sought after quest of the mystical reef at 30m. I put it down to superb navigational skills, but others might say it was pure chance. To be fair Elaine did find our wreck on the second dive. With the water at a balmy 10 degrees and the visability at a good 10m+, we had more than plenty to see down there.
Juvenile dogfish
It's a site of many delights with reefs at multiple depths and a plethora of surprises. Not to mention the strange array of crap that gets dumped in these sea lochs, in this case a computer monitor. You have to think to yourself, "who would come all the way out here into the middle of a sea loch to dump a monitor?". Maybe it died and wanted a burial at sea, I don't know.....
Squat lobsters monitor the sea bed.......ho ho. I amuse myself sometimes
On the mystical reef itself  there were a multitude of squat lobsters, anemones, gobies, blennies, butter fish and and the mother of all dogfish, easily 4 foot plus. A real whopper. And a pincushion starfish as well which was a nice find.
More cushion for the push'in
Vibrant juvenile squat lobster
There was also quite a few dragonets dotted around the seabed as well which added a little colour to the proceedings with their emerald eyes and blue markings.
No, don't panic, I said "dragonet", not drag net! (jokes are thick and fast today folks)
Whilst Elaine was off on her solo outing further up on the reef, I also spotted a whopper of a dextral flatfish who was more than happy to get up close and personal with my rig. As if you couldn't tell by the majority of shots, I do love my +16 diopter attachment.
The face only a mother could love
On the way back up we passed another of the many unique features of this site, a nice rebar and concrete table top coral. Not that I ever thought thats what it was intended to be but that what it looks like covered in growth after sitting down here for a number of years. But I did get Elaine to strike a pose for a few shots behind it.
"You mean I have to be the centre of attention again? *sigh* I suppose...."
With the end of a nice first dive amongst the wafting fronds of the kelp and the flickering god rays of the sunshine, it's moments like this that make you relise how good british diving can be. And how much more enjoyable it can be with camera rig in your hand. 
Bring me sunshine, bring me smiles
It never gets dull even after all these years. I would have shared this special moment with my buddy had she not scarpered out of the water a few minutes earlier to rush off for the call of nature!  But I did get to find a lovely little juvenile scorpionfish. At least someone was there to share the moment with.....
It's you and me, kiddo. No words, just enjoy the moment
And with the second dive completed, so end the saga of UK diving as we jet of to the warmer climes of Egypt in a weeks time to get an article finished of and do some training as well. All things being well (like the weather!), normal UK service will be resumed on the 3rd, and we should have my Southern name sake coming up to spend an enjoyable day with us. Toodle-pip!