Friday, November 9, 2007

Diving Can Be A Truly Spectacular Hobby - Tips and Guideline

Diving can be a truly spectacular hobby, and many people now go on holidays especially to go diving in some of the world’s best spots – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, for example, or South America’s Galapagos Islands, among many others. What these dive sites have in common is spectacular marine animals, with sharks being a particular favourite, as well as colourful coral and other interesting marine plants.

To go diving, first you need a qualified instructor and access to scuba apparatus. It is a good idea to learn the basics of diving in your home country before you travel a long way to go diving, as you will have more fun in exotic locations if you have at least some idea in advance what you’re doing.

The most popular diving holidays are often ‘live-aboards’, which means that you live onboard the dive boat for the entire duration of the trip. This allows you to save both on accommodation and on the cost of diving, as well as being a unique place to stay. However, be careful to travel light, and take a short trip on a boat first to see whether you get seasick – you’ll have no fun on a live-aboard if you do.

There are lots of other things to be careful of if you do decide to go diving. For one, you need to make sure not to come up too fast, as sudden changes in water pressure can be harmful to the body. You also need to be careful about the heat of the water you dive in (it shouldn’t be drastically different from body temperature), and about wearing a wetsuit to avoid getting stung by the many underwater creatures and plants that can give you a nasty scratch. Don’t worry too much though: as long as you pick a good diving school, your instructor should go through all the risks with you thoroughly, and give you all the equipment and knowledge that you will need to avoid them.

For more information on diving please check out this site.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Galapagos Adventures - Activities in the Galapagos Islands

What makes the Galapagos Islands so special in this day and age is that there is no place on earth quite like them. Completely unique, these islands are truly one of a kind and are a great place to see evolution in action. Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos in 1835 and it was here that he gathered important and key information to prove his Theory of Natural Selection.

Situated roughly 1,000 km west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands is said to be roughly five million years old. Accidentally discovered by Bishop Tomas de Berlanga in 1535, this string of tiny volcanic islands has been designated a World Heritage Site and today plays a very vital role in understanding how our planet has evolved. Officially known as the Archipelago de Colon, these islands are a national park as well as a marine reserve protecting some of the most rare and endangered animal, bird and marine species in the world. Nearly 25% of the fish species, 50% of the bird species and all of the reptile species on the Galapagos are endemic.

Vacationing here is a real treat for nature lovers as they get the chance to come up close and personal with an incredible plethora of wildlife. However, these islands are also an amazing adventure destination as there is much to do out here. Wildlife/bird watching, hiking, trekking, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving are just some of the many activities in the Galapagos Islands that you can enjoy.

Bird watching is very popular as hundreds of birds from all over come to the Galapagos to nest and rest as they migrate from hemisphere to hemisphere. The Waved Albatross, the Magnificent Frigatebird, the Flightless Cormorant and the Blue and Red-footed Boobies are just some of the many bird spices to be found here. If you are an avid bird watcher then do keep an eye out for the 13 endemic species of Darwin’s Finches.

If hiking and trekking is your passion then you will find much to explore out here. There are many walking and hiking trails on 19 larger islands in the Galapagos with some of the best pathways found on the Isla San Cristobal and the Isla Santa Cruz. However, be sure to get permission particularly if you want to hike the smaller islands as many of them are protected habitats.

For the more adventurous you can go swimming with sharks, eels, and manta rays, snorkel with schools of brightly colored fish and come face to face with a spectacular array of marine life. The coral reefs in the Galapagos are some of the most pristine in the world. The scuba diving here is also truly superb with dive zones for both the novice diver as well as the expert. The best diving in the Galapagos can be found around Isla Darwin and Isla Wolf. If you just want to spend some quiet time relaxing on a beach somewhere, head out to Turtle Bay on Isla Santa Cruz where the water is calm and the beach is sandy white.

With so much to do and so many activities to enjoy it is no wonder then that the Galapagos is a wonderful place to have an adventure. The ideal destination to have some fun, these islands make for a truly extraordinary vacation.

For more details on activities in the Galapagos Islands, visit here.
Another comprehensive website, has a plethora of travel and tour information available to make your Galapagos vacation a truly memorable one. Enjoy hiking, bird watching and a plethora of watersports and water-based activities in the Galapagos.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Amazing undersea world - Octopus

The octopus is a mollusk and master in disguise. It belongs to the same group as chitons, abalone, snails, limpets, scallops, oysters, clams and mussels. The octopus also belongs to a sub-species of mollusks called the cephalopods. This means head to foot and is used as the name because an octopus’ "feet" are attached to its head.

Octopuses tend to be small in warm tropical waters and larger in colder waters. Octopi live in all the oceans, but are strictly salt water creatures. The Giant Pacific Octopus lives in the coastal waters of British Columbia and is the largest octopus in the world. The largest Giant Pacific Octopus ever caught weighed about 600 pounds, about the same weight as a Brown bear! The tentacles on the beast spanned upwards of 33 feet in length. Obviously, octopi are generally much smaller. For example, females rarely exceed 55 pounds and males average less than 90. The Giant Pacific Octopus is one of the longer lived species whereas most octopi live only one or two years. The male can live to approximately 4 years and the female can live to about 3.5 years.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Layang-Layang Island - Beautiful & Fantastic Island for Diver & Tourist

The Isle of Layang-Layang is situated in the South China Sea, approximately 300 km north off the coast of Sabah. The surrounding seabeds offer excellent dive sites, characterized by shallow depths with extraordinary coral gardens teeming with reef microfauna, full of steep drop-offs into the abyss and the presence of open sea species.

The Location:

The Island:

Dive Sites:

a) Gorgonian Forest
b) Wreck Point
c) Wrasse Strip
d) Crack Reef
e) The Valley
f) Shark’s Cave
g) The Tunnel
h) "D" Wall

Gorgonian Forest

This site is characterized by a strong current along the wall, thus creating a visibility of more than 50 metres. The dive begins on a shallow seabed about 5 metres deep, from the drop-off, which then plunges steeply to about 40 metres. The seabed is covered with bommie and coral towers, and a forest of gorgonians.

Marine life here includes the scarlet whip corals, barrel sponges, surgeonfish, barracudas, batfish, bumphead parrotfish, butterflyfish, dogtooth tuna, grey reef sharks, fox sharks, large stingrays, nurse shark, bigeye trevallies, whale sharks, and leopard sharks.

Wreck Point

This site takes its name from an old freighter, of which only a few scrap of iron remains. Instead, of doing a wreck dive, this site offers a relaxing and medium depth tour of a coral garden.

Marine life here includes the dogtooth tuna, bigeye trevallies, nurse shark, lettuce corals, parrotfish, butterfly fish, Moorish idols, batfish, ocean pikes, enormous giant clams, peacock flaunders, hawkfish, and barracudas.

Wrasse Strip

The dive here, at about 30 metres, will allow the diver to see one of the richest and most untouched reefs in the world. The most exciting would be from the surface to 20 metres deep, where large coral formations exist.

Marine life here includes the turtles, manta rays, reef sharks, batfish, redtooth triggerfish, angelfish, butterfly fish, soldierfish, lobsters, starfish, nudibranchs, sea snails, miniscule blennies and crustaceans.

Crack Reef

Located along the northern side of the atoll, this dive site is characterised by a luxuriant coral garden at the shallow depths of 5 to 15 metres. It gradually descends to a steep slope into the abyss.

It is also possible to have a tranquil exploration at shallower depths where carpets of soft and hard corals grow.

Marine life here includes the coral groupers, peacock groupers, squirrel fish, soldier fish, trigger fish, boxfish, nudibranchs, sea snails, flounders, fire fish, anemones, porcelain crabs, crayfish, angelfish, and pyramid butterfly fish.

The Valley

This site starts with a gentle slope from a depth of about 2 to 15 metres, and comes to a seabed of stony and other corals. Further off, the slope becomes steeper then plunges deep into the abyss.

Marine life here includes the bommies flicker fish, sweetlips, squirrel fish, butterfly fish, peep garden eels, crayfish, starfish, panther flounder, shrimp, crinoids, pincushion starfish, redtooth triggerfish, hammerhead sharks, and fox sharks.

Shark’s Cave

This dive is similar to the “D” Wall dive – an intact top reef with luxuriant growth and an amazing variety of resident species, a vertical drop and a sandy balcony down to about 30 metres.

Marine life here includes the whitetip reef sharks, gigantic gorgonians, black corals, barrel sponges, bubble corals, giant manta ray, and leopard sharks.

The Tunnel

The dive here will allow sights of mostly of smaller creatures in great numbers. This dive makes up of an in and out swim along the wall of the reef. This wall consists of vertical cracks until the last one transforms into a canyon. It is not worth going deeper than 15 metres as it plunges deep into the abyss.

Marine life here includes the longfin banner fish, hermit crabs, spotted lionfish, starfish, crinoid, blackspotted pufferfish, fusiliers, urchins, and crabs.

"D" Wall

This vertical wall plunges into the sea for more than 2,000 metres. After a quick descent to about 40 metres, divers will reach a sandy balcony of about 30 metres long and 6 metres wide. This balcony allows photographers to take great shots of the marine life here.

Marine life here includes the enormous barrel sponges, fluorescent violet anthias, enormous gorgonians, crinoids, giant mantas, anemones, leopard sharks, whitetip reefsharks, and scalloped hammerhead sharks.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

What Makes Sipadan Island one of the Top Dive Sites in the World?

Jacques-Yves Cousteau has remarked, “I have seen other places like Sipadan… 45 years ago. Now we have found again an untouched piece of art.” Sipadan has also been listed in the Rodale's Scuba Diving Magazine Gold List of The Top Dive Destinations in the World. What makes this tiny island of just 30 acres such an outstanding beauty? What lies beneath the waters of Sipadan Island that has so mesmerized divers from all over the world?

Perhaps it is the allure of the diversity of marine life found at the reef. Or maybe it is the crystal clear blue water with high visibility of between 50 and 100 feet. Or perhaps it is the geographic uniqueness of this oceanic island that forms a 2000 feet drop just barely 25 feet from the beach.

The 11 dive sites surrounding Sipadan Island offer unique diving experiences that are specific to each location. The steep Drop-off enables divers to observe the myriad of sea creatures living amongst the crevices of the cliff wall. Soft and hard coral attract reef fishes that feed amongst the corals, while larger predators such as sharks and octopuses hunt for smaller fish.

Sipadan is also famous for the abundance of Green and Hawksbill turtles. In fact, there is also a Turtle Cavern dive site that offers cave divers a chance to explore the interconnecting tunnels within the cavern. This is where the remains of turtles that have lost their way in the tunnels and subsequently drowned can be viewed.

Barracuda tornados circling around your head are a common sight. At Barracuda Point, you will see barracudas in the dozens. What’s more, strong currents at the Sipadan Midreef Dive allow divers to drift along with the current. Also, dive sites such as the Coral Garden and the Hanging Gardens are renowned locations for underwater photography, due to the multitude of colors from the abundance of marine fishes.

Apart from being an underwater haven, Sipadan Island had been designated as a Bird Sanctuary in 1933, and now is under protection of the Sabah Wildlife Department. Essentially, this island is home to over 300 species of birds, including sea eagles and the Nicobar pigeon.

Finally,Sipadan Island offers more than just a dive spot and pretty fauna. The beauty, diversity and diving experience found on this island is probably unlike any other diving location. Indeed, divers come here to pursue the diver’s dream – unforgettable diving experiences from the unique and vivid dive sites of Sipadan.

Looking for a dive resort in Sipadan? Jacob Mojiwat recommends, a booking service website for resorts on Mabul Island, the gateway to diving at Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai Islands. He is passionate about diving and has managed to convince many of his friends to take up diving. He lives in Kota Kinabalu, just a short plane ride away from Sipadan Island.

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