Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown of Frogfish Photography, along with Adam Hanlon of Wetpixel, have been selected as Diving Ambassadors for the Islands of The Bahamas.
When authors and photojournalists, Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown, first visited The Bahamas as dive instructors in 2002, they did not expect that experience to come full circle. The couple from Manchester, England have been appointed Diving Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas. The historic announcement was made by Ellison Thompson, Deputy Director General, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA), in light of the couple’s outstanding works in shark and marine conservation, diving, travel, photography, journalism and their unwavering love for The Bahamas.
“This is a very special appointment for us,” said Thompson. “It signals our dual belief and commitment to sharing, protecting, preserving and promoting our beautiful environment and natural resources, which for us, are our pristine, crystal-clear waters and rich marine life.”
“Astronauts recently captured the waters of The Bahamas from outer space, and declared it to be the prettiest place on earth. Now, the world will also know of its astonishing underwater beauty, through Nick and Caroline’s appointment and work,” said Mr. Thompson.
The couple, who are both PADI and SSI Master dive instructors, have each conducted over 5,000 dives globally, but it is their dive on Tiger Beach in Grand Bahama that is their most memorable experience.
“We had been dreaming of diving with Tiger sharks for years and had tried at a number of different locations, globally. While in Grand Bahama, on the only single day we had to make this dream a reality, we got into the water, despite inclement weather conditions and substantial current.
We descended to the sandy seabed with twice our normal weighting and within a few seconds were approached, up-close, by three large female Tiger sharks, who swam in front of our cameras and over our heads. We watched with amazement, as these magnificent predators entertained us,” said Caroline.
“There is so much to love about The Bahamas, but the thing that really stands out for us is that the waters surrounding the islands are a shark sanctuary. There are so few places in the world where shark protection has been taken so seriously and they are fully safeguarded. Just this alone, is part of what makes The Bahamas an exceptional place to dive. Sharks make for healthy eco-systems and coral reefs and it is amazing to be able to encounter so many different species in clear, blue, warm water. To be able to island hop, dive reefs and wrecks as well as relax on pristine white and pink beaches makes The Bahamas a truly magical place,” said Nick.
Over the years, Nick and Caroline have conducted many dive and underwater photography trips to The Bahamas and have provided news coverage of their experiences in Sport Diver, Wildlife Photography World, Scubaverse, and Dive Travel Adventures and have photographed all of the shark dives, reefs, and wrecks in The Bahamas, including in Grand Bahama, Bimini, Nassau, Abaco, Andros, Cat Island, Exuma and Harbour Island.
The multiple award-winning photographers and published authors have also won the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Photojournalist of the Year Award for their features on Shark Diving in The Bahamas.
“We are passionate about sharing our diving experiences in The Bahamas and already include it in all of our talks at dive shows, photo and dive clubs and in our talks to groups about marine conservation. Our articles about diving in The Bahamas have won numerous awards because our love for the islands shines through in our writing. We have featured The Bahamas in each of our diving books, and so this Dive Ambassador appointment is a perfect, natural progression for us to continue to promote diving in The Bahamas.”
The couple is currently writing a book on the history of diving in The Bahamas, and as Dive Ambassadors, they will work alongside officials of the BMOTA in promoting The Bahamas’ dive product, at tradeshows and on fam trips.
The Bahamas remains an unspoiled destination offering pristine, crystal clear turquoise waters, with visibility in some places exceeding 200 ft. in depth. The country’s diverse dive experiences, ranging from reef to wreck and exploration of underwater caves to big animal encounters, are well known and have, over consecutive years, won top awards and recognition including Scuba Diving Magazine Readers Choice Awards for Best Big Animals, Best Overall Destination, Best Cave Diving, Best Snorkeling, Best Value, Best Wreck Diving, Best Wall Diving, Best Advanced Diving, Best Photography, Best Shore Diving, Best Macro Life and Best Health of Marine Life.
Now open for business, visitors can enjoy the peace, serenity and security provided in The Bahamas’ 700- island chain.
For further information and visitor entry requirements, visit www.bahamas.com/travelupdates.
Jeff chats to… Dr Katey Lesneski from Coral Vita, winners of the Earthshot Prize (Watch Video)
In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Dr. Katey Lesneski, Director of Restoration Science at Coral Vita, about the future of coral reefs.
Coral Vita are the winners of the £1million Revive Our Oceans Earthshot Prize. You can read our story on this HERE.
While often mistaken as being from lower latitudes, Katey is a true New England native at heart. Escaping the winter at opportune times, Katey has volunteered, studied, and worked in Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Belize, and the Florida Keys. Her time in these communities before college, studying abroad while at Brown, and during her PhD at Boston University led her to appreciate the importance of community involvement, which she gained a deeper understanding of as a 2018 Switzer Environmental Fellow. Katey has enjoyed weaving her knowledge of coral reef conservation and management into lesson plans for when she was a middle school science teacher, a graduate Teaching Fellow, and a divemaster and assistant scuba instructor.
Katey currently works as the Director of Restoration Science at Coral Vita, where she applies her background of marine ecology and genetics to reef restoration projects. Now that she is done with her PhD she is rediscovering “free” time, and enjoys freshwater fish husbandry, plant cultivation, reading sci-fi novels, and just about any watersport. She lives with her adopted potcake pup Dogtor Pepí in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Find out more about the work of Coral Vita at www.coralvita.co
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
The Scuba Genies head to Bonaire! Part 2 of 2
In the second of this two-part blog, The Scuba Genies share their trip report from the Come Dive with Us hosted trip to Bonaire in September 2021. Missed Part One? Read it here!
There is another dive we just must share with you and one that we can confidently call a ‘Dive of a Lifetime’. There were 12 of us in our group, and collectively we have logged in excess of 8000 dives in some very special places around the world. And every one of us was totally blown away by this dive! A fellow diver, by way of the Girls that Scuba FB group mentioned that if the timing was right, an ostracod dive was one not to miss. A link to an online article noted that 2 to 5 days after a full moon and 45 minutes after sunset, was the best time to observe the mating ritual of these tiny creatures. And only if they have not been exposed to light of any kind. That meant no streetlights and no torches. NO TORCHES!
We lucked out and were in Bonaire during a full moon and planned our Ostracod dive carefully. One the fifth night after the full moon we headed south to Red Beryl, a site we had previously been to and knew the terrain. We were in awe of the soft coral forest at the site, and this was the perfect environment for the ostracods. As the ‘show’ only lasts about 20 minutes, we entered the water while it was still light and left a beacon on the shore to help guide us after the dive. We gently finned out over the sand and hovered above the soft coral at around 8 metres as the dark crept in. Little sparks of light started to appear in ones and twos, and then just as we had hoped, chains of these tiny creature were all around us, in hundreds and then thousands! Everywhere you looked, the ostracods were rising to the surface, like underwater fireflies linked together flashing their bioluminescence one after the other, giving us nature’s most amazing firework show! The only way I can explain it is seeing thousands of Tinkerbells all at once! 20 minutes later, it was all over so we turned on our torches and headed slowly back to the shallows, happy to find a sleeping turtle, scorpion fish, more octopus and lots of little creatures.
As our holiday inevitably came to an end, we chose a site within minutes of Buddy’s called The Invisibles. A highly recommended dive site, we parked up alongside the beach, kitted up and walked down the rock beach and into the water. 95 minutes later, we walked back up the beach with memories of green turtles feeding, free-swimming moray, immense sponges and a plethora of anemones with their tenant critters – shrimp, crabs, and all things fascinating. And back in the sandy shallows we didn’t know where to look! A golden spotted snake eel, juvenile angel fish and a box crab that scuttled across the seabed before vanishing into the sand in a finger-click.
In summary, the diving here was very special – it truly lives up to its reputation of being one of the best destinations to visit, and in fact, over-delivered when it came to our expectations from the Caribbean. To mix it up, in addition to shore diving we also scheduled 4 days of boat diving right from the dock at Buddy’s. We were able to explore all around Klein Bonaire and reach some of the more difficult shore-entry sites including Karpata and 1,000 Steps. We would recommend this highly if only to get away from a daily dose of sand in your boots!
Buddy’s is a full-service dive operation, offering quality accommodation, good food, and the dive centre is as slick an operation as we have ever seen or experienced. The drive-thru tank station is genius for shore diving, the house reef is easily accessed, and the boat diving from the dock on one of their 5 purpose-built dive boats is organised perfectly. Catering for newbies all the way through to technical and rebreather divers, Buddy’s delivers it all, and very well. The staff are fun, highly professional, and the whole set-up is geared to making a dive trip work without any fuss. Even the shop is very well stocked with kit, spares, forgotten stuff and replacements for broken things!
Importantly, Buddy’s is also a supporter and enforcer of the Marine Park protection rules – the whole of the island is surrounded by a protected marine reserve, so no touching, no gloves, no pointy-sticks. Turtle nesting and coral regeneration programmes are evident, and given the fantastic health of the reefs, the protection initiatives and regulations work.
Would we go back? Without any hesitation, and repeatedly!
Bonaire delivered the goods. Great diving, great accommodation and freedom to dive wherever and whenever you want – especially with the tanks on the house reef available 24/7. A perfect destination for dive clubs and groups as the 3–bedroom apartments really work.
Bonaire is exceptional value for money. There are very few places on this planet where you can dive so much for so little in a great marine environment.
- Getting there: Flights with KLM to Bonaire depart from any major UK airport via Amsterdam. From London Heathrow it was a 12-hour total flight time. An extra 23kg bag also costs less than £90 return if booked in advance.
- Air temperature: Tropical – average daily temperature throughout the year is 31’, reasonable rainfall (passes quickly) and the sea breezes are most welcome!
- Water temperature: 28-30°C. A 1-3mm full suit is recommended to protect from scratches and stings and to keep the sand out.
- Visa requirement: No tourist visa was required, but under COVID there are protocols in place. See https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/travel-to-bonaire/ for the current requirements.
- Currency: US Dollar with ATMs easily found, and all major credit cards are accepted.
- Electricity: 120V with American 3- and 2-pin plugs. Our US/UK converters worked without issue
Accommodation: You mention Bonaire and Buddy Dive Resort is the first place people mention. Only 10 minutes from the airport makes for a super simple transfer. Multiple room types, all with kitted out kitchens and air-conditioned bedrooms. Two pools, two restaurants, full-service dive shop and staff always around to answer questions or lend a hand.
Diving: With both world class shore and boat diving available, warm and clear water, abundant marine life, coral and sponges like you’ve never seen, what more could you ask for?
Price Guide: Expect from £1500 per person based on two sharing for 7 nights with bed and breakfast. Unlimited shore and house reef diving, Nitrox and car rental all included. Return flights and transfers also included.
- STINAPA Marine Park passes: $45 per calendar year. We purchased ours online prior to departure and carried a copy in the vehicle when shore diving.
- Buddy Dive Vehicle Insurance: $19 per day of vehicle rental for one named driver for the duration of your stay. For an extra $5 you can name another driver for a day. This was added to the room bill, and we split the cost with the rest of our apartment.
Our Advice: Stay longer…. 10 days would be the perfect amount of time in our opinion to get the most out of the shore and boat diving. And with numerous flights during the week to choose from, any duration can easily be arranged.
Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.