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Diving With… Andre Miller, Barbados Blue, Barbados, West Indies

Caribbean DTA Team

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…


What is your name?

Andre Miller

What is the name of your business?

Barbados Blue

What is your role within the business?

Manager/Owner/Dive instructor

How long has the business operated for?

13 years

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

More than 25 years; PADI Master Scuba Diver Training and Freediving Instructor

What is your favorite type of diving?

Education diving – when we are teaching about the health and importance of the reef and its creatures. Or when I am learning about my own inner ocean peace on a freedive.

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

We legitimately love what we do. Barbados Blue is run by marine biologists and built from a crew of ocean-loving, happy people. As small island people we grew up at the beach and it means more to us than just a job or just a pastime. Our hearts are in the ocean and we consider ourselves lucky – even on those extra days – to be able to share what we do with you.

Uniquely we also have a sister dive shop, Grenada Blue, better known as Eco Dive in Grenada so we can offer a two island holiday, or a repeat Caribbean destination built on the same values, education and principles.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

Carlisle Bay Marine Park – an amazing series of wrecks and patch reef right off the beach, two minutes from the dive centre. This dive never gets old, with history, wreck swim throughs, the new MV Trident, great marine life including a hot zone for seahorses, frogfish, rays, turltes and more. This is a gem of a training site, an amazing site for photographers and the perfect location for Freedivers, beginners to advanced. I really do LOVE my backyard Marine Park.

What types of diving are available in your location?

Wrecks – Stavronikita, Bajan Queen, Cornwallis, Berwyn, C-trek, Pamir, Brianna, Trident, Friar’s Craig

Reef Diving – all over patch reef and bank reefs around our coral island

Adventure Diving – East Coast and North coast in calm conditions

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

The ability to share my passion, to teach, and to help the next generation set the stage for a better Barbados to come.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

Sea Turtles – we have tons of them! But if that is too obvious I am going for a ‘Thumb Splitter’ mantis shrimp. With some of the most amazing eyeballs, colourings and their sneaky powerhouse, I love their stealth and the challenge of finding one.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

Along with our sister shop Eco Dive in Grenada we are the only shops in the southern Caribbean offering the PADI Coral First Aid coral nursery specialty course. This is designed to give our juvenile corals at risk a fighting chance, a place to grow big and strong before being outplanted on the reef, while providing our skilled guests the chance to get involved and help make a real difference on the reef and in our marine parks. We need more marine parks and Barbados is just getting going. There are exciting chances in the works, stay tuned.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

  • Over-fishing.
  • Oxybenzone based sunscreens that prevent the corals from reproducing properly (please get your hands on reef safe – zinc – based sunscreens before arrival)
  • Ocean plastics (help us reduce our plastic use by refusing single use bags, straws, cups and any unnecessary plastics.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Eco Dive (Grenada) got us signed up for Project AWARE’s 100% AWARE programme, with them as a sister dive shop challenge a number of years ago and we’ve never looked back. Between our sister centres we have donated over $12,000 US to ocean conservation efforts and are not done yet. Inspired by the progress we have opened our own non-profit NGO’s called Eco Blue that allow us to give back locally with learn to swim, mega fauna (shark and ray) marine education, permanent mooring, invasive species lionfish outreach and more. Within Barbados Blue itself, on top of the 100% AWARE, we are also running the Coral First Aid nursery specialty course, and we help the Barbados sea turtle project with turtle tagging and rescue.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

Incorporate more conservation info as mandatory course info into training programmes. We would love to see an ECO Open Water that builds more conservation into the course from the first time you hit the pool. Many of our fellow centres are on board – but not all… and not all enable it to be easy or obvious. Our divers are our messengers. Divers that make a difference could be all divers (you did ask me to dream)… Remember the effect of a butterfly’s wings, all of our actions matter!

And we are LOVING the freediving. An amazing way to connect with the ocean on a different level, and a ‘greener’ way to dive.

What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

Welcome! We are here to help, here to build a connection with our divers and here to share the ocean love in beautiful Barbados.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

www.divebarbadosblue.com

info@divebarbadosblue.com

Tel: 246-434-5764

Whatsapp: 246-230-3064

Blogs

Lovin’ Saint Lucia: Two wreck dives and a wedding (part 3)

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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Whilst we have been lucky enough to dive in much of the Caribbean, Saint Lucia was still on our wish list. Until November when we got a chance to visit this beautiful island on a 6-night diving trip that would see us enjoy with incredible scenery both above and below the waves. We were able to sample three different hotels, dined at a host of local eateries, spoke to local school kids about the ocean and even took a tour into the rainforest canopy. Find out all about this trip over this series of three blogs on Caribbean Dive Adventures.


Our final day of diving saw us heading south again to the wreck of the Lesleen M. The wreck was sunk as an artificial reef in 1986. It sits upright in the water just off Anse Cochon in about 20m of water at its deepest point. AS it has been in the water for over 3 decades, it is now covered in marine life. Yellow and purple sponges rise up from the deck and off railings. Gorgonian corals created huge curtains across the walkways and on the bow and stern. The prop is covered in orange sponges and cup corals. Barracuda and porcupinefish cruise the middle section of the boat. Schools of reef fish live in the covered section of the stern. There is life everywhere you look. To make the most of this dive, bring a light, as the colours are incredible.

We were lucky to have been able to dive the wreck as a buddy pair, without any other groups. But we loved the dive so much we asked if we could join the group for another dive on the wreck as our final dive of the trip. However, the group we were going to dive with were a little bit special! Two of the group had got married the day before. Nine of the family (mum, dad, the happy couple, sisters, brothers, and their partners) who had come to Saint Lucia for the wedding were on our boat. We offered to take an underwater photo of them. Getting the shot was not as easy as we had first thought though! Getting them all still, in the same place, not blowing bubbles at inappropriate times turned out to be a challenge! It was, however, a joyous way to finish off our diving on Saint Lucia.

Our final day saw us heading to new heights, via a cable car experience into the rainforest canopy. Not only does this trip offer stunning views over the island, but our guide was so knowledgeable we also learned plenty about the local fauna and flora of the island. This is the perfect activity for the non-diving day at the end of a trip. A final cocktail in the beautiful setting of the Harbor Club as the sun set saw us reflect on a super trip. We barely scratched the surface of what Saint Lucia has to offer. Alas we never got to experience the diving in the north of the island, so we will have to return to rectify that. Hopefully sometime soon!


Nick and Caroline were hosted by:

Eastern Caribbean Diving

Bay Gardens Marina Haven & Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa

The Harbor Club

Travel Saint Lucia

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Blogs

Lovin’ Saint Lucia: Kids and Critters (Part 2)

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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Whilst we have been lucky enough to dive in much of the Caribbean, Saint Lucia was still on our wish list. Until November when we got a chance to visit this beautiful island on a 6-night diving trip that would see us enjoy with incredible scenery both above and below the waves. We were able to sample three different hotels, dined at a host of local eateries, spoke to local school kids about the ocean and even took a tour into the rainforest canopy. Find out all about this trip over this series of three blogs on Caribbean Dive Adventures.


After our first two days of diving in the south of the island, below the magnificent Piton mountains, it was time for a day off. Usually we would pack in a much diving as possible on a short trip like this, we had been invited to speak at a local school. Our hotel, Bay Gardens Beach Hotel and Spa, already support the school with a breakfast club to ensure the kids start the day with a good meal. They asked us if we might go and speak about the ocean, marine life, conservation and our work. As the school did not have a room big enough to hold all the kids, we setup in the local church. The kids filed in and sat in rows of pews and we chatted about the marine life that can be found both in the waters surrounding Saint Lucia and further afield. They knowledge of shark species was incredible! They even identified a Basking Shark correctly! We were stunned when they presented us with a huge box of local fruits they had picked from their gardens as a thank you. Our driver then took us for a drive around the north of the island to show us some of the plentiful beauty spots.

Back diving again, we still headed south, but to sample some different diving from our first two days. We were delighted to dive over a healthy seagrass bed that was home to a host of marine life. Snake eels skimmed along through the blades of grass, flounder lay camouflaged, and several species of crustacean could be found once you got your eye in. A huge Southern Stingray lay buried in the sand and our guide, Mervin, was delighted to find a seahorse (that did not want to be photographed). Dotted throughout the seagrass bed, coral bommies were a haven for small marine life critters. Eels and lobster hid in the crevices, while small juvenile fish darted through the coral and sponges.

Whilst we were on an all-inclusive basis at our hotels, we love to get out and about to try local establishments where we can. So each evening we would take a stroll to the waterfront to sample some excellent food and a local beer or cocktail, whilst watching the sun go down. The perfect way to finish off a great day of diving.


Nick and Caroline were hosted by:

Eastern Caribbean Diving

Bay Gardens Marina Haven & Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa

The Harbor Club

Travel Saint Lucia

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