Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Diving Family

Holy Mother of Moly! You cannot believe how busy we've been this week! Or maybe you can believe it, as this is the first post to fly out of the Divewise Desk for quite some time! We've had some really large, really lovely groups in this week. The Shaws spanned both Britain and the United States in accent, ages 12 to 45 in age and a variety of Dive certifications too, and yet you've never seen a more closely knit unit. Congratulations to Brian for passing his open water!

At the same time, we had the rowdy, raving Diving Leisure London boys and girls, who are unrelated, but have creates a great group atmosphere and family feeling, travelling, diving and eating together (always being the adoptive parents of the Divewise Staff waifs and strays!).

And lastly there's the Tec-Family - where looking after each other is a key aspect of safe diving - but you can ready all about their adventures on the Techwise Tales Blog!

When you're under the water you can always see the family characters coming out - the motherly sorts who like to look after everyone else (and always over-prepared with the spares) - Rescue Diver course anyone? Then there's the fathers, who dole out sage advice and tinker with any equipment that goes awry (Equipment Specialists every time!), and finally the kids - the playful carefree souls that entertain the rest of us, performing antics and flying around in the freedom of the Blue (thanks to their Peak Performance Buoyancy Course)

That's the nice thing about diving, even when a vehicle starts the day full of strangers, it travels home with a family inside - people united by their adventures, delights and even sometimes mishaps (of course that's the way you end up with a story to laugh about later!). We hope you'll come and join the Divewise family soon.

And by the way, Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gorgeous Gozo, Diving Days & Wet Weekends (The good kind!)

The weekend has landed once again and that means another glorious day out on Gozo! Derek packed 8 happy divers into Harry, our largest truck and off they went. Its a bit of an early start to beat the traffic but the speedy journey to the ferry and over the blue is worth it. Gazing at the waves from the side of the ferry, you can't help but get excited about getting below them in a short while.

The scenic drive to the dive sites is like something out of a film. In fact many famous movies have borrowed the landscape of Malta and Gozo for their scenery - Clash of the Titans, Midnight Express, Troy and more!

The Azure Window stands proud over the water within sight of the Blue Hole, which soon we'll be dropping through. To the left you can find coral gardens and caves, to the right is the awesome stature of the entrance tunnel to the Inland Sea. Amazing scenic dives all round.

Having the full day out there means there's plenty of time for a leisurely lunch between dives. A perfect day that everyone finishes with a smile!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Diving into the Deep, Dark and Delicious!

As usual, we have a real mix of courses on right now. Last night we had an Advanced Open Water Student taking his night adventure on the reef where he had done his Navigation in the day. As usual, plenty of pleasure divers jumped in with our second staff member and took advantage of the beauty that comes out in the night time.

We were really lucky, with octopus, morays, cuttlefish and squid all coming out to play! Even a Sea Hare! Plus all the usual shrimp and fish.

We've also had lots of people taking the great deal on the Deep and Wreck
course combo, achieving new depths and learning all about diving safely in and around wrecks.

Now, there's no course involved, but there certainly was some expert pancake munching going on after the night dive! Good call on the snack stop, Al!

We've also had some nice surprises on the house reefs this week. Just a short swim out onto Mercanti reef and Sarah spotted an electric ray! While morays and cuttlefish graced the Discover Scuba Dives near the confined area.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fishy Business off Malta - Save the Sharks!

So the boys weren't spinning a reel after all! (Great) White Sharks are back in the seas of Malta!


A few weeks ago, some of our friends at Techwise surfaced from a dive to be ushered into the boat a little quicker than normal! The boatman was gesturing in the direction of the wreck they had just dived and spoke of a BIG fish. Later on the radio as they drove home, reports came in of a small fishing boat being rescued after a 'bump' from a shark.

How you feel about the return of Great Whites to Malta will vary from person to person. I know a lot of people don't like the idea of bumping into sharks out on dives - especially when it comes to the big boys of the family. But I think it's as great as the sharks we are talking about. My only sadness is returning sharks will never make it to the coast without being killed.

It seems to me that Malta could easily begin a baby version of the thriving cage-diving business that does so much for the African Tourist industry. Of course first we would have to educate as to the value of these creatures LIVE as opposed to dead. Africa and other countries have developed an art of teaching divers about the threats posed to these seemingly threatening mammoths of the seas. Sharks only breed small litters of young, and are slow in reaching maturity (enough to breed new generations), so when a shark is killed, we often wipe out possibility of future generation too.

They are keystone species of the aquatic world and their disappearance will have serious consequences for all life in the seas and those who depend on the oceans for their lives. The return of the sharks might even be the signal of the general eco-system returning to healthier times before pollution and industry development on the island decimates the underwater landscape - we've certainly noticed that the algae coverage and fish numbers are once again beginning to climb. The sharks are supposed to be here - they were here before! You only have to check the photographs on the walls of the Zurrieq cafe.

Lets hope we see many more Great Whites off the coasts of Malta - and lets hope we see them with new eyes, higher awareness and appreciation - ALIVE! Why not check out the Project AWARE Shark Awareness to find out more about these amazing creatures.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

...it's the little things...

Diving is such a thrilling experience, but sometimes when you've done it for a while, you forget to appreciate all the different experiences that the ocean has to offer. Its important to sit back and take notice of the little things sometimes - and that can be both in the way we conduct ourselves and when we look for excitement below the waves.

Taking Discover Scuba Diving students nearly every day, I 'd always thought that you'd get to know the house reef like the back of your hand, maybe even get bored. I was so wrong! For a start - every student is different, and that makes every dive different too. Secondly, you never get tired of giving someone their first glance of the underwater world. Everyone reacts differently, some love the gear, some admire the fishes, for many simply the feeling of diving itself is such a thrill. We come across new challenges and every new challenge solved is a fresh feeling of satisfaction.

I also began to notice on the reef that if I put myself int he right frame of mind, even the same, well-worn route would always through up new surprises. Two days ago the reef seemed to be teeming with crabs, then the next day after some crashing waves, an eery quietness as creatures ducked for cover from the weather. Some fish are territorial and I can always guaranteed my favourite little blenny will always sit in the same little alcove each day as my students and I return from our dive - but even he changes! Some days his colours seem to mottle to match the rocks and algae - other dives the red hues of his scales stand out proud and dazzling.

So when I turn my view the right way, the reef always has a treat in store - we don't always have to look for the big animals or famous fish. Spotting a tiny one who cowers in a crevice is almost more satisfying because you found him when other might have missed his small hidy-hole.

Similarly, we recently had a gentleman come to us to ask about diving. His friends often dived and he drove them to the sites in their home country - but being unable to swim, he had never been allowed the pleasure to joining them. It became apparent that he might not be suited for diving, having never been in the water since childhood. Then we offered to introduce him to snorkelling. 'Perfect!@ he declared 'I just want to see what's down there, what my friends see'.

With a suit and floatation aid to keep him bouyant, one of our instructors took him for a one-on-one session on our calm sea-pool. With some advice on how to position himself and stabilise his movement, he was able to look below and see what he'd longed to - minute fish in huge numbers skimmed by, colourful wrasse picked at the sandy bottom for morsels, crabs skipped to and fro over the tide line on the algae-encrusted walls. The customer was delighted - and so were we!

So don't forget the little things. When you can appreciate the smaller and simpler pleasures that our watery world affords us, we can never be disappointed!