Underwater Welding Shark

Flambuoyant cuttle fish - these small cuttle fish look dull brown until they are disturbed or are hunting when they light up with this impressive display of colour. Cuttlefish (right)- once you have their confidence, cuttlefish often seem to be trying to tell you something and signaling with their centre arms is very common. You can encourage them to display colours and patterns by returning the signal with waved fingers - but I have no idea what you might be offering! Nikon D200, Subal ND20, Nikkor 105mm micro (left) 60mm micro (right), Inon Quadflash, ISO100, f16 @ 1/60.

red and white. In the Lembeh Straits you will often find their eggs in old coconut shells and on my last visit I witnessed one of these eggs hatching whilst photographing them. The tiny guy that emerged was no more than a few millimeters long but went immediately into its flambuoyant display - amazing!

Lens choice for portrait shots depends entirely on the size of your subject and whether or not you are trying to include some habitat as well. Even the larger fish can be captured effectively in tight face portrait with a 50/60mm macro lens, so this is as always a good all round work horse. If you know the dive site well and the subject you are targeting then that will make lens choice a little simpler, but once under the water as always almost anything can turn up unexpectedly so be prepared to be flexible! By concentrating on the communication with your subject you can turn an image of a common subject into a potential competition winner.

Mark Webster

www.photec.co.uk

Underwaterwelding Sharks

11 -18 June 2008 Red Sea 1 - 8 October 2008 Red Sea 26 Nov - 3 Dec 2008 Tulamben, Bali

See Website for details: www.photec.co.uk E-mail: [email protected]

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Behind the shot

By Martin Edge

Martin Reef Lighthouse Inside

Nikon D200 with a Nikon 105 mm fisheye lens inside a Subal housing andfisheye port. My flashguns were two Inon Z220 on short ultra-lite arms placed out to the side of the housing. This particular shot was taken on F5.6 at 1/8th second at400 ISO.

The manta ray night dives off the Kona coast, Hawaii were first made famous by National Geographic underwater photographer David Doubilet back in 1994. He employed the use of HMI lights (Hydrargyrum Medium Arc-length Iodide) a continuous light source that illuminates underwater at a day light temperature of 5600A° Kelvin, similar to the temperature of a traditional underwater flashgun. My attempts were quite modest in comparison. We shot the Manta over two nights, spending a total of two hours with them. I used the same photo equipment on both occasions but varying the technique on the second and most successful attempt. I used a Nikon D200 with a Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens inside a Subal housing and fisheye port. My flashguns were two Inon Z220 on short ultra-lite arms placed out to the side of the housing. I ensured that both flash guns were behind the two side shades of my fisheye port. This was to minimise the effect of particles which were in abundance by virtue of the plankton attracted by the fixed lights and our own dive torches.

Fisheye photography at night in poor visability and planktonic water is about as hard as underwater photography can get. I had put a fair amount of thought and consideration into how best to shoot the manta, yet I was unable to conjure up any good ideas to make my attempts different in some way. My first attempt at the Manta dive site resulted in images of manta with mouths agape a few feet infront of the lens. Whilst they were sharp and well exposed, they failed to capture the atmosphere of the experience and were no different than the numerous 'manta dive' postcards on sale throughout Kona. I pondered this for some time. I wanted to record the manta at a distance, interacting with each other and the audience, but with traditional flashguns this was impossible. Because of weather concerns we had consoled ourselves to just the one Manta dive, however on the last night of our charter the weather picked up and we had a second opportunity adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel of Keauhou Bay. Ten of us entered the water at dusk and waited for the mantas to appear from the deep.

As normal I had tested both flashguns before entering the water and once I'd settled on the bottom I repeated this procedure. My heart skipped a beat! The left side flashgun failed although the ready light was glowing. I used the test button

Slieratan Hotel, Hawaii

- it fired! "No problem there then". "It must be a knackered flash lead". All the bending and pulling made no difference. The flash failed continuously again and again! How was I going to light these creatures with only one good flashgun and at night with an ultra wide lens? Ten more minutes of fiddling! The water had turned black and on cue the first manta appeared followed by several more. "How could I make them different with only one flash gun"?

The Manta's had been with us for about fifteen minutes with me shooting the same old stuff when suddenly I had a flash of inspiration! I decided to use the illumination from the torch- lights of the dive crew, the non-photographers and the deck lights from our live-aboard, which were clearly visible through the under-surface above us. I used my one flashgun as fill light on the manta. I selected 400 ISO and opened my shutter speed to l/8th 15th and 30th of a second and used panning techniques (fingers crossed that this would work).. I used wide apertures of F2.8 and F4. I proceeded to shoot the spectacle at a distance and by constantly reviewing my LCD, bracketing apertures, shutter speeds and flash power I began to get the alternative images I had hoped for. This particular shot was taken on F5.6 at l/8th second at 400 ISO.

If my flash had not failed I doubt very much that I would have done anything different from the previous

Underwater Welding 101

opportunity earlier in the week. Instead, the faulty flash lead had forced me to think 'out of the box' and as a result I spontaneously, without thought upped my ISO, dropped both shutter speed and aperture and commenced panning techniques. This was that innovative idea I had pondered over for days.

Remember. Experience is what you get when you do not get what you want!

Martin Edge

www.edgeunderwaterphotography.co.uk

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Portraits by Erik Henchoze

I dedicate this article to all the people who love the sea and to all divers who try to take portraits of sea animals with their cameras on every dive; faces, liveries, colors , forms and behaviors that at times surprise and excite.

From a blenny that leans out of its hole to come face to face with a big barracuda or with a grey shark; an infinity of "poses" and of "expressions" show how various sea life is and how fishes have a character, habits and fears of their own.

Just few days ago Ansa (an italian news agency) published an article referring to a study of the university of Liverpool on the rainbow trout. The study shows how bold, shy or curious these fishes can be according to the various individuals and to the different situations. The experienced scuba diver will certainly be already aware of it. To tell the truth one of the most interesting aspects of my dives is really the interaction that is established with the sea world and particularly with fishes, so much that I am able to experience an exchange of emotions and feelings. For this reason, I have devoted myself to portraits in underwater photo for a long time, in order to photograph these moments so full of emotion and at times unrepeatable.

But what do we mean by portrait in the photo? For a long time the portrait has been one of the most important and diffused photographic types. With such a term we generally mean the close-up shooting of a subject isolating it from the background in order to give it more prominence.

This is the reason why photographers make use of a reduced depth of field (the focusing zone in the image) and therefore F Stop with elevated numbers (F22-F32) to stop the time and to isolate the subject "in a pose", leaving a more or less out-of-focus background at his shoulders.

Turtle. Fuji S2 Pro, DX-S2PRO Sea&Sea housing, 2 YS-90DX flashguns, sO mm AF-Micro Nikkor F12.8 D lens 11100th @F8 ISO: 200,Autofocus

Moray eel. Fuß S2 Pro, DX-S2PRO Sea&Sea housing, 2 YS-90DX flashguns, 60 mm AF-Micro Nikkor F12.8 D lens 11200th @F 22 ISO: 200, Manualfocus

Fuji S2 Pro, DX-S2PRO Sea&Sea housing, 2 YS-90DX flashguns, 60 mm AF-Micro Nikkor F/2.8 D lens. 11125th @ F 22. ISO: 200, Manual focus

Nikon D200, DX-D200 Sea&Sea housing, 2 YS-90Auto flashguns, TTL converter II, 60 mm AF-Micro Nikkor F/2.8 D lens. 11100th @ F 8. ISO: 200, Autofocus

Also in the photosub we use a similar technique but with some differences: managing the depth of field with a very closed diaphragm and with little brightness, as it often happens underwater, is something of a problem and we will inevitably need at least of a good flash in the reflex photography. With a compact digital camera we will be forced to use the small built-in flash (better if supported by a good flash or external light box). Moreover, the poses of our subjects, even though spontaneous, will always have to be taken very quickly and often there won't be much time for the shot.

But what equipment shall we use for our sea portraits?

Compact digital cameras

An underwater portrait with a compact camera is surely possible, it is rather one of the best shots: the objectives of these cameras are already ready for this type of frame and they usually have lenses with an angle of view similar to that of the human eye (a frame similar to the human frame). However you must get as near as possible. The camera flash is not very powerful and if we photograph from too far (more than 1,5-2 mt) we risk to lose the colors of our subject. The built-in flash is for shots at a distance non superior to the 4-5 meters, of course on the dry land. In a dive, because of the absorption of the light by the water, our flash will be even less powerful.

Therefore, to try to take some beautiful portraits you must: 1) draw as near as possible to the animal 2) Frame the subject well, also by using possibly the zoom (without however exaggerating) 3) Remember always to use the flash forcing the shot with the special function of the camera (through menu or special button) 4) If possible use an external flash positioned aside (angle at 45») to work better with the shades and to avoid to get a flattened image 5) Have a good management of the delay at the shot of our compact camera; almost all compact digital cameras, before effecting the real shot, send forth some brief pre-flashes to focus the subject and to effect the exposure; not considering that often means to take the photo when the fish has already gone away or moved, irremediably ruining our composition.

Digital SLR cameras

With my Nikon cameras I make use of different lenses and I join them with Dome port planes, the classical Flat Port, and with Ports such as the Super Fish Eye or the Compact Dome Port.

The objective I use more often is surely the Nikkor AF-Micro 60 mms F2.8 D. Itís a lens for macro photo but its typology allows fantastic portraits. The 60 mm is famous among the fans of Nikon (Nikonists) and it is considered an exceptional lens both for its neatness and for its constructive quality.

Underwater Welding Mms

Nikon D200, DX-D200 Sea&Sea housing, YS-90Auto flashgun, TTL converter II, 60 mm AF-Micro Nikkor FI2.8 D lens. 11160th @ F18. ISO: 200, Autofocus

For my portraits I often use the TTL. Often I work also in manual and I manage all the technical variables, from the exposure to the focusing to get the desired results.

The portrait is a true challenge, especially with the most bashful and timorous fishes; you draw near and the fish turns around hiding its face, or in a while it gets into some hole. For this a perfect buoyancy is needed, slowness in the movements and all the slyness typical of the photographic hunting. With some training and good will success is insured both when using a compact camera and an expensive reflex camera.

I suggest, at least at the beginning, to photograph little timorous subjects, the fishes that will let you approach more easily, allowing you to manage better the functions of your camera; for this, at least at the beginning, automatisms, exposure and automatic focusing are recommended. As you make

Nikon D200, DX-D200 Sea&Sea housing, YS-90Auto flashgun, TTL converter II, 60 mm AF-Micro Nikkor FI2.8 D lens. 11125th @ F 20. ISO: 200, Autofocus progress, you will begin to feel the necessity to work in manual and you will demand more to your underwater equipment.

Another objective that I enjoy using for the portrait of the smallest animals is the Nikkor AF-Micro105 F2,8 D. This objective is more powerful than the 60 mm; used on the digital reflex camera... because of the Cropping (the Lcd sensor is smaller than the dimensions of the film for which the Micro 105 had been studied), it becomes very similar to a 180 mm. Ms an objective macro from any point of view. I also find it fit to photograph, with the technique of the portrait, all the bashful and timid fishes that will run away when you approach. We will succeed in taking shots similar to those taken with the 60 mm but staying much more distant (the minimum focusing is in fact at 75 cm). I recommend the manual focusing, the focusing motor drive of the 105 is a bit slow and often the dial of the housing allows very rapid and accurate regulations.

Soon I will try also the new Nikkor105 VR, a fantastic Macro objective that has a built-in optic stabilizer, soon some tests and a detailed article will be issued.

For bigger subjects (but not only for those) such as sharks, manta rays, etc., I prefer the Nikkor 20 mm F2.8 D. It is not an objective created exclusively for portraits but its focusing at only 25 cm and the ample frame range allows to shoot frames to big oceanic fishes from a really short distance. The only and big difficulty is drawing near, but with particular animals (such as manta rays) it is not often a problem.

Erik Henchoze

www.erikhenchoz.com

Nemo33 - Dive another way by Michel Braunstein

Born and raised in Belgium, I had the opportunity to dive quite a bit in the country's dark lakes and flooded quarries (Opprebais, Vodelee, Ekeren, Barrage de l'Eau d'Heure, and more). One of the features these sites all have in common is the freezing water!

Actually, I would have never had imagined that it would be possible to dive in clear 33°C tropical water in the very heart of Belgium. Surprisingly enough, I had the opportunity to do so in a very special place, the deepest swimming pool in the world located in Brussels, Nemo33 (http://www.nemo33.com).

I arrived at Nemo33's on one of those typical Belgian rainy days. The organization was so meticulous that all the employees had "Smart" cars licensed NEM_022, NEM-033, NEM-O88, NEM-099. There was a small yellow submarine at the building's entrance. After entering, you could see the restaurant with soft lights and large deep blue windows facing the swimming pool. This sight definitely reminded me of Captain Nemo's Nautilus Submarine, only the monsters in the water were wearing diving gear!

The few things I knew about

Françoise Herman, the swimming pool manager prior to our meeting was that she had been in charge of a diving center for seven years in Sharm El Sheikh, that she owned a diving boat, and that she went through many adventures. Well, I thought I'd deal with a strong and authoritative person but in fact, she was a charming and sensible young woman.

We went up three floors to reach the swimming pool and I was given full diving gear (Tank, regulator, BC and fins). It's really fun to get to a diving spot without having to bring along a large and heavy bag full of equipment!

The place is very clean. All the equipment is modern, well set up and maintained to a high standard. On the pool's surface, a nice red Zodiac helps new divers learn to step off the boat and climb back into it after the dive.

When we were ready, Françoise took me to the deep end after going through the shallower parts of the pool. The deepest part of the pool is actually quite wide. We went through it slowly and after a few moments, she showed me her diving computer which displayed 35 meters. It's quite impressive to look upwards from such

a depth across serene and clear source water. It was really moving to observe the scene from the bottom through that wide cavity. There was no sunlight but instead the powerful glow of the electric light on the building's ceiling. What a splendid image!

After the "abyss", Françoise led me inside "caves" were we could stick our heads outside the water despite the fact that we were at a depth of 10 meters. The first cave was nicely decorated with stalactites on the ceiling and on the walls; my buddy did some meditation there. The second cave was decorated with submarine windows showing some underwater life. The third cave, not yet decorated, is used at the end of diving courses when the instructor opens up a bottle of Champaign and drinks it together with the newly certified divers to celebrate their success.

After our dive, we went to eat Asian food in Nemo33's restaurant in which they invested a great deal in the atmosphere, food standards, as well as service. I've been to numerous restaurants in sports centers but I have never tasted such delicious food in this type of environment. It's not surprising that many people working in companies nearby go there

to have lunch, just to enjoy.

While at the restaurant, I was lucky enough to meet John Beernaerts, the fascinating man who had the Nemo33 dream and engineered the project. John used to be an engineer and one day decided to begin working independently. He is now managing Nemo33. Since for many years diving was his passion, he decided to integrate it into his professional life. He built Nemo33, the deepest pool in the world to date. Contrary to other similar pools which are dug directly into the ground, Nemo33's pool is built from the third floor of the building downwards, which from a technical perspective is much more complicated. When at the restaurant, you sit at a depth of -7 meters underwater.

After the meal, Françoise invited me to go on another dive. This was a real pleasure. No doubt that next time I am in beautiful Brussels or surroundings, I won't miss a dive at Nemo33.

In addition to enjoying a dive and having a fantastic meal at Nemo33's, you can take any PADI diving course as well as going to aqua gym or "Living better" courses.

Michel Braunstein

www.braunstein.co.il www.nemo33.com

Mantangale Melange

By Stan de la Cruz

Alibuag is the local term for undersea freshwater spring. You read that right: spurting, ice cold, freshwater, under the briny sea. This natural phenomenon can be found in a number of dive sites accessed by the Mantangale-Alibuag Dive Resort (MADR). Looking like a column of dark oily water issuing from cracks in the seabed, diving through one of them is another world of experience. Vision gets clouded, the sound is akin to that of bubbles bursting from a bottle of soda, the feel is very cold, and the taste is definitely fresh Once I swim through and my vision returns, I notice the exquisite pastel hues of the scenery and realize that I am in midst of a soft coral garden. I peel my eyes off the reef scenery to take in a small school of barracuda and a shy eagle ray. But bright spots of color pull my eyes back and I see the nudibranchs huddled together, making sure that there is a next generation.

I had come to MADR to get my nitrogen fix and get away from the hassles of city life. Located on the northern shores of the Mindanao mainland, 80 kms. from Cagayan de

Oro City, Philippines, it is one of the best kept secrets of Philippine diving. With access to more than a dozen dive sites, the location offers a variety of sites/ topography, conditions and critters that I find better than in the well known dive locales in the country.

The house reef in Banaug, is also known as "again" reef. I descended ahead of my group, down the buoy line to the reef top at 17 meters escorted by a squadron of batfish. Shaped like an underwater pinnacle rising from the depths, the top was crowded with plate corals, gorgonians and black corals and populated by groupers, snappers, trumpetfish, scorpionfish, and a host of other reef fishes. I watched the rest of the divers come down the buoy line, silhouetted by the blazing sun. The sound of approaching bubbleblowers stirred the inhabitants to life. Then the activity meter kicked up a notch when the divemaster started handing out fishy tidbits, even the eels poked their heads out of their hiding holes to gobble up scraps. Despite associations of a "house reef" with some hohum diving, guests have repeatedly asked to dive

this site again, and again.

Sta. Ines wreck is that of a WWII pontoon boat. Looking like a railroad box car, it sits on a steep sandy slope starting at 10 meters down to 45 meters. Covered in black corals, it serves as home to snappers, grouper and sweetlips. The resident frogfish

(Top) Olympus C7070 in PT27fManual F5.611125 iso80, Inon M67 WAL + dome, Inon D2000 in sttl

(Right) Fuji E900 in ikelite case, Manual F6.411200 iso80, INON M67WAL + dome, Inon D2000 in STTL

was a very girlie pink that day The surrounding reef had an abundance of soft corals and whips complete with gobies and xeno crabs. The previously fishbombed talisayan shoal was abandoned by the fisherfolk and over time has recovered enough to warrant a dive. The coral rubble is mostly on the sloping sides of the shoal with the top strewn by large boulders festooned with soft corals and leather corals. The fast growing specie of hard corals are of a good size. Mantis shrimp scurry about the rocks and toxic urchins march along the sand, many with Coleman shrimp amongst their spines. A dense patch of coral rubble serves as playground to some skittish mandarinfish.

I had a very memorable dive in nearby Lapinig island. We dropped down to 30 meters to pay a visit to a stable of shy bargibanti pygmy seahorses. After I had taken about a dozen pictures, the DM tapped me on the shoulder from behind. I turned around and he was pointing at a different looking seafan. Taking a closer look, I soon spied the object of his interest; a family of denise pygmy

(Left & centre) Olympus C7070 in PT27, Manual F1011800 iso80, inon D2000 in STTL, inon UCL165 (Right) Fuji E900 in Ikelite case, Manual F6.411640 iso80, INON M67WAL + dome, Inon D2000 in STTL

seahorses. Going back up the reef to Mandarin city, we settled down to watch the psychedelic colored fishes doing their frantic mating dance. Total darkness came down all too soon and we brought out our lights to continue the dive. The Tubastrea cup corals were soon in full bloom and other reef critters started coming out too. We spotted cuttlefish, anemone crabs feeding in the slight current and flatheads half buried in the sand. A crocodile snake eel was holding my attention when a signal from the divemaster brought me to his side.

And there in the halo of his divelight was a mimic octopus. It was enjoying a meal and I blinded it with my strobe for a good 5 minutes before it found a hole down which it disappeared.

The next day dawned bright and clear. In the middle of breakfast, the call goes out that a whaleshark has entered a nearby bay and the dive boat was heading there in 5 minutes. A mad scramble ensues as my fellow divers and I abandon our meal, and head for the dive shoppe to kit up. In another 5 minutes we were in the water face to face with world's largest

Olympus C5060 in PT 20, Manual F6.41/250 isp80, Inon D2000 in STTL

Olympus C7070 in PT 27, Manual F6.41/100 iso80, Epoque WAL, Inon D2000 in STTL

Olympus C5060 in PT20, Aperture priority F5.6, Iso 100, manual white balance fish; Rhincodon typus, known locally as tawiki, or better known as whaleshark. Such was the impact of it's presence that some divers quickly went through their air supply and had to surface, trying to keep in sight of the animal while snorkeling in full scuba gear! Dodong Uy, the dive guide, explained that this place used to be the biggest whaleshark fishery on the Mindanao mainland, and that it took a while to convince the hunters to stop this practice and instead, report sightings to the dive shoppe whose clientele forked out a "spotters fee" for the opportunity to be in the water with such a majestic fish.

We headed out farther afield to the current swept sites in the Bohol Sea. Burias shoal is a series of mini walls and slopes and is known as the haunt of the elusive manta rays. With the current threatening to blow us off the reef, we made our way down the anchor line to 30 meters. We saw a parade of horse eyed jacks and black snappers, and a large school of drums going up and down the water column, but alas, no mantas today. Disappointed, the other divers made their way back to boat. I lingered on, hoping that the diving gods would bless me with a manta fly-by. Instead, the current picked me up and brought me back to the anchor point. I grabbed hold of the rope and started to head back to the boat when I noticed movement near the rocks where the anchor was lodged. On a closer look I spotted a normally shy zebra moray snapping its jaws in protest at my intrusion. I surfaced to the rare sight of Camiguin island and Mt. Hibuk-hibuk without a cloud cover; and despite comments from the rest of the group that I was the anti-manta, I felt that the gods had not wholly abandoned me.

Cabuan is on the south side of Camiguin island. A moderate slope always awash in currents, it features boulders strewn about by some long ago upheaval, now covered in soft coral and green gorgonian trees. That day we had 90+ feet of visibility and a light current to push us along. Schooling bannerfish and Moorish idols were all around, Cuttlefish were in every other coral head, and we spotted an anglerfish in hiding behind some plate coral. In the shallows I spotted a goby sized hole that was emiting a dark cloud of very hot water, reminding me of the volcanic nature of the island.

Heading back in the general direction of the resort, we saw a pod of dolphins heading away from us. Our boat made a sweeping turn and we were soon parallel to the pod. The dolphins seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere and did not linger to play and were soon out of sight.

Last stop of the day was in Sipaca point, Mantangale's claim to muck diving (minus the

2 views ofCamigitin island mud). Nudibranchs, anglers, whip gobies and whip shrimps were seemingly everywhere one looked. Titan triggerfish regularly patrolled the waters and the endemic mushroom coral eel were also spotted. I spied a giant angler and I positioned myself to take a nice portrait when it opened its mouth to yawn! I got off one shot and then spent the rest of the dive waiting for it to move again... .When the needle on my pressure gauge went into the red, I reluctantly headed for the surface where the boat was waiting to pick me up.

Another blazing sunset ended a perfect day of diving. Like a conjurer pulling one treat after another from his hat, Mantangale had given me a glorious weekend break.

When I awoke next morning, the rain was falling.

If you are ever in this part of the world, I encourage you to take a peek beneath the waves of Mantangale.

Stan de la Cruz

[email protected] www.mantangale.com

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Adventure Mozambique

Story and Photos By Tim Rock

Whales and whale sharks. Mobulas and mantas. Bottlenose and humpback dolphins. Bull and great white sharks. They're all here waiting for ya. The potential of the place really sinks in from atop a rolling, sandy hill near the Mozambique coast.

Look inland. It takes but one evening watching a sunset from high atop an ancient dune overlooking broad plains of trees and rolling hills with not a telephone or power pole in sight and only two track roads meandering off in the distance to realize Mozambique is someplace special. Perhaps it is as close to the "real" Africa one expects. Look toward the sea. The sound of crashing surf and rolling seas stretch out across the horizon. The beaches are endless and there's no one on them but sea turtles.

Immediately crossing the border the change from South Africa to "Moz" is astonishingly apparent. Situated on the northern border of South Africa and along side the Indian Ocean, Mozambique is a country that boasts rich diving. Divers can spend a few days in nearby South Africa in the famous Kruger National Park hunting big game with a camera and then go for the undersea life as well. Just leave the Crocodile Bridge gate and drive toward Maputo.

There's a mostly one lane black top that carries divers north of Maputo to the hotspot of Tofo Bay. Mozambique is known as a year round diving destination. The best months to dive along this coastline are May to July, due mainly to more moderate temperatures.

History

Humanoids have been around Mozambique for over 2 million years, and Homo sapiens have been settling the area for at least 100,000 years. Starting around 2000 years ago, Bantu peoples (named for their language group) began migrating into the area, bringing iron tools and weapons with them. Toward the end of the first millennium, several towns along the Mozambican coast grew into Bantu trading ports with links to other parts of Africa, the Middle East and India. The Arab influence in these ports was strong, and Swahili was the lingua franca of trade.

The country was not always

Shark Whale Derawan

Above: Yoko Higashide snorkels with a youth male whale shark offTofo.

Right: A giant potato cod fills a crevice at Manta Reef.

Tim Rock uses Nikon D200 cameras and primarily the Tokina 10-17mm zoom lens inAquatica housings. Ikelite strobes and TLC arms are part of the kit as well.

The rich mangroves of the Inhambane Peninsula.

accessible and hospitable. A recent long, horrific civil war has scarred the country, shattered its infrastructure and left a million land mines scattered about the countryside. Much of its wildlife, including big game such as elephants and rhinos, was decimated by war, and much of its coastline has been ravaged by cyclones. Droughts and floods take turns rubbing salt in Mozambique's wounds.

But it seems Mozambicans are a resilient bunch. They have begun putting the past behind them and have begun rebuilding their country at a remarkable pace.

Mozambique is fast reclaiming its former status as prime seaside destination. Mozambique is a somewhat reasonably priced destination. Very comfortable dive travel is available for US$150 a day or less.

Most dives are done from 8m-rubber inflatable boats powered by 2x85hp+ motors. Dives sites vary considerably from approx. 7m down to a current-swept 35m plus.

Fishermen watch from their tiny boat as a humpback whale sounds

Inhambane & Tofo

Divers head north up the coastal highway to the various venues along the expansive coast. Getting there is truly part of an amazing journey through Mozambican life. People center much of their lives and activities along the main roads. Kids swimming naked in swimming holes, women with immense bundles of wood atop their heads, men shooing cattle down the sandy path are all images gathered while careening down the oft potholed two-lane blacktop that winds north to the famous beaches and reefs. A boy hawks a small parrot in a handmade wire change. Young girls with baskets of red berries try to attract passing buyers. Buses with massive lists and a crushing loads huff down the highways. Pickup taxis brim to capacity with people.

Mozambique has become the escape of choice for northern dwelling South African divers. Many make weekend drives into "Moz" to enjoy the

Divers from the Manta Research Center head out into Tofo Bay.

beaches and reefs.

About eight to ten to twelve hours drive up the two-lane (sometimes pocked) blacktop is a jutting peninsula. It can now divers can fly on small turboprop planes. Baggage can be a bit limited but it is fast and less bone-jarring. In two hours you're there from Johannesberg.

The newest hotspot is Tofo Bay. Protected and scenic, this bay holds some nice lodges and motels. The Casa Barry Lodge is the home of the The Manta Ray & Whale Shark Research Centre, small science outpost with a big job of trying to survey and protect the area's main attractions. You can hear whale shark and manta lectures at the lodge twice-a-week. Tofo Scuba is the main dive operation here. It's a PADI 5-Star with all kinds of training available. Longtime Moz diver John Pears runs the place and is still finding new dive sites along the coast.

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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