Diving in Italy; Tuscany's Grotta Giusti; Scotland's St Abbs & Eyemouth; Ice diving in Russia's White Sea; Anilao in the Philippines; Terry Gosliner profile; Goliath groupers; Panarea II wreck site; Rebreather diving fundamentals; Scuba Confidential; Shark science pioneer Doc Gruber; Underwater photography in cold waters; Meredith Woolnough portfolio; Plus news and discoveries, equipment and training news, books and media, underwater photo and video equipment, shark tales, whale tales and much more...
Main features in this issue include:
The Philippine destination of Anilao has been described as the “center of the center of marine biodiversity” yet until now has largely remained unknown to European and American divers. This charming location has even more to offer than staggering critter life.
The water beneath me literally boils in a plethora of purple as anthias dance in the mild current. Beneath them the reef known simply as Beatrice is encrusted so densely in brightly coloured crinoids that hardly a single centimeter remains unoccupied.
We gathered in the frigid pre-dawn hours, our gear and luggage piled in front of the snowmobiles and our noses freezing in the -22ºF (-30ºC) temperatures. It was time to be saying good bye to our Russian hosts after a week of diving the frozen White Sea but we were tempted to linger just a little bit longer.
We had come to this remote spot a week earlier filled with both excitement and anxiety over the prospects of exploring the icy waters of the White Sea.
Perhaps one of the most difficult, but also most rewarding aspects of all underwater photography is to be able to photograph an animal, or fish, in this instance, in its preferred habitat, without inducing any undue stress or obvious invasion of the creature’s life space.
Firstly, it is much better to stay well clear of the subject and its habitat, approach the subject slowly and sympathetically, and at least this way you are able to keep off the seabed or wall without causing any unnecessary damage.
Samuel H. ‘doc’ Gruber began studying sharks in 1961, perhaps before any other scientist had done full-time research on a living shark. During his long career, he founded the Bimini Biological Shark Lab, the Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, (IUCN), a United Nations organization based in Switzerland, and the American Elasmobranch Society.
As a young man growing up in Florida, he loved to dive, and often went off for weekends of scuba diving and spear fishing on a 30m schooner called the Blue Goose.
Goliath grouper, or Epinephelus itajara, are the subject of strong opinions and divided emotions. Divers love to see these mammoth fish; underwater hunters denounce them as competitors, or covet them as outsized trophies; fishermen are just itching for a policy change that allows harvest; and regulatory bodies seem constantly poised to rescind long-term protection in favor of short-term exploitation.
I felt thrust back a century or two, perhaps into the setting of the Count of Monte Christo. Lounging in the majestic sitting room, in the stately old mansion that now houses Grotta Giusti Spa but was once the seat and residence of a family from the Italian gentry, I cannot help but ponder the history these walls must have seen. Outside I can see the Tuscan countryside, with its rolling hills and slender stone pines.
The spa gets its mineral waters from some hot volcanic springs that come out of the mountain right under the complex. From the ground floor, we go down a ramp that leads into a cavern draped in stalagmites and stalactites.
Italy is truly a beautiful country to explore. It is a place where one can not only savor the regional specialties and cuisine in between dives, but also experience the country’s cultural diversity, lifestyle and heritage.
Many years have passed since I was a child, but I still have fond memories of when I went to the beach with my parents to look for crabs and shrimps among the rocks of Liguria. It was decades ago, and a lot has changed, unfortunately, not all for the better.
Meridith Woolnough is an Australian artist from the coastal region of Newcastle in New South Wales. An avid diver, she creates intricate embroidered traceries of underwater forms highlighting their natural beauty as well as their fragile nature. X-RAY MAG interviewed the artist to find out more about her unusual technique and keen interest in forms found on reefs.
"I have always found the ocean to be an incredibly inspiring place. It is so alien and bizarrely beautiful down there. Everywhere you look there is something to see and discover."
— Meredith Woolnough
— GUE Helps Advance Underwater Archaeology.
This is a “black and blue” story of Panarea III, a 2,200-year-old shipwreck discovered in the Mediterranean just north of Sicily.
The Aeolian Archipelago is a group of seven volcanic islands north of Sicily, Italy. The islands are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites both for their unique natural environment on land and underwater, and for their oral tradition.
It was a beautiful Caribbean day, water conditions were excellent but Anna was feeling confused. Water had started to seep into her mask and, although she knew how to clear it, somehow she was unable to get the water out. She started to ascend.
Concerned, the divemaster followed her up, signaling to Pauline, the other diver in his charge, that she should wait and he would come back. On the surface, Anna removed her regulator, adjusted her mask, gathered her thoughts and decided she had been foolish.
Marine conservation has always been important around St. Abbs and Eyemouth when a voluntary ban on the removal of shellfish was first imposed by divers back in the early 1970s with many diving clubs supporting this move.
Located just 15km (9 miles) north of the English border, the reserve now extends from the Hurkar Rocks at Eyemouth to St. Abbs Head and includes 7km (4.5 miles) of coastline and out to the 50 metre (165ft) depth contour.
It’s fair to say that Dr Terrence Gosliner has developed a healthy obsession with Anilao over the years. He is the Senior Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the California Academy of Sciences, overseeing the scientific research programs and guiding the Academy’s efforts to discover new knowledge and help promote the preservation of life’s diversity.
SJ: You’ve been visiting the waters near Anilao for many years but what led to you first coming to this area?