DiveCareDare

DiveCareDare

Tony Isaacson - Diving Naturalist. As a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, AWARE shark conservation specialist and adventurer, I have dived in some of the most amazing diving locations on the planet. I have been scuba diving since 1970 and have logged over 3000 dives in more than 20 countries around the world. I’ve documented the marine diversity in exotic locations like Komodo, Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Tahiti and the Galapagos Islands. In 2013, I inspired Navy Clearance Diver and bull shark bite survivor, Paul de Gelder and a 60 Minutes film crew to dive with bull sharks at the Ultimate Shark Encounter in Fiji. I was a consultant on the making of documentaries on Leafy Seadragons (for Channel 9), The Great Barrier Reef (with Richard Fitzpatrick for the BBC) and filmed underwater footage in Indonesia and off the Queensland and New South Wales coasts for TRAVELTHERENEXT TV. In July 2014, I headed to South Africa for the Sardine Run and dived with the great white sharks from Durban to Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a great advocate for sharks, sustainability and ecotourism, and I regularly volunteer for Reef Check and Grey Nurse Shark Watch in Australia.

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Diving Videos

Dive the Oceans

Diving Videos

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This is a short clip of some beautiful footage I managed to capture whilst in South Australia.

The visibility on the dive at Rapid Bay wasn’t the best on the day but watching the footage, it doesn’t really seem to show on the video. Continue reading

DIVE COZUMEL | GULF OF MEXICO

Diving Videos

Cozumel diving gray angel

Whilst on a 7 day Carnival cruise around the Gulf of Mexico, we arrived at Cozumel Island. The one and only advertised dive from our cruise ship described a deep water experience including a drift dive along a large wall. However on the day, the local currents were far stronger than they had known in recent times, so our dive plan changed at the last minute.

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We ended up doing relative shallow dives close to shore to avoid the danger of those large currents. Even so, we still had a 3-4 knot current and had I have wanted to stop and look at something of macro photographic interest, it would have to have been in the lee of a bombie or in a sea floor depression.

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DIVE GRAND CAYMAN | CAYMAN ISLANDS | GULF OF MEXICO

Diving Videos

DIVE THE CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS OF THE CARIBBEAN AT GRAND CAYMAN

On a 7 day Carnival cruise around the Gulf of Mexico, I had an opportunity for a two tank scuba dive with Don Foster’s Dive Cayman in West Bay, Grand Cayman. So I took this chance to experience the crystal clear Caribbean waters but unfortunately there were unexpected very strong currents, the worst they had in the last three years.

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So we dived Wall Street, a relatively protected site covered by the remaining fragments of a severely damaged wreck. Many were colonised by soft quite colourful corals, gorgon fans, fish and other typical Caribbean marine life.  We also encountered a field of very tall garden eels, a curious sight not often seen.

Grand Cayman riding a bike while diving

My dive guide was also a great source of amusement. He tolerated my prolonged photographic stops by amusing himself with a wreck of a bicycle, and what a camera ham he proved to be, attempting to ride it whilst wearing his long free diving fins!

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WHALE SONG OF AFRICA

Diving Videos

SNORKELLING WITH ‘SINGING’ WHALES

Whilst on our recent trip to South Africa hoping to dive on the Sardine Run, we were given a bonus encounter of these amazing leviathans of the sea. Whilst looking for the sardine bait balls in the waters at Coffee Bay, three humpback whales including a mother and her baby cruised by. There was no time to don scuba equipment, so with only snorkels and masks we all got in the water to take a closer look.

They were truly amazing and the sound they were making took us all aback. It was nothing like the high pitched whale song we had heard before, such a deep gutteral almost painful straining sound. WIERD!

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This was a truly memorable moment, especially when at one point when they came up from the deep so close to one of our group that he had to try to push himself away from the side of the huge animal. AMAZING!

Thanks to Roland Mauz and his team from African Dive Adventures who gave us this incredible encounter.

What do you think of their whale ‘song’?  Have you ever hard anything like this before?

For more, see our recent post Snorkelling with Humpback Whales at Coffee Bay, South Africa.

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[Video Footage by Tony Isaacson.  Video Production and Editing by Roger Barrett,  TraveThereNext.com]

SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACK WHALES | MOOLOOLABA, QUEENSLAND

Diving Videos

SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACK WHALES, MOOLOOLABA, QUEENSLAND

It was a beautiful day for snorkelling with humpback whales off the magnificent Sunshine Coast. The sky was azure blue and the ocean was calm as we headed out of the Mooloolah River. We were on board “4 Shore” with a crew of 5 including Dan, son of Phil Hart, owner of Sunreef and the entrepreneur responsible for this Australian first. Whale watchers and snorkelers were a mix of tourists and media personnel – fifteen in total.

Snorkeling with Humpback whales in Mooloolaba, QLD

We headed east from the river then north when suddenly the skipper shouted “Whales!!” That was the trigger for a military style call to action as Dan deployed the 30 metre safety line out the back of the boat for snorkelers who were already briefed, pumped and reading to slip into the water.

Snorkeling with Humpback whales in Mooloolaba, QLD

Putting out the line at the back of the boat

We had been allocated into groups – group 1 was ready in wetsuits, complete with snorkel, mask and fins. Continue reading

SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACK WHALES | COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

Diving Videos

SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACKS AT COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

We were here in Coffee Bay with Roland Mauz and African Dive Adventures for the infamous Sardine Run. We hoped to dive on sardine bait balls with the promise of accompanying dolphins, sharks and diving gannets, but for the first day we saw mainly dolphins and humpback whales, or as Irene my wife had accidentally nicknamed them, ‘wholphins’.  The whales were generally travelling quite fast. As in Queensland, Australia they are on a mission to places much further north and they usually don’t want to stop to interact with us in the water. This had certainly been our experience on day one at Coffee Bay. This was day two and we were out yet again in search of the elusive sardine bait balls. The clarity of the water was better and we were all more attuned into kitting up into our wetsuits and snorkelling gear to get into the water more efficiently.

Louis and his ‘eye in the sky’ spotter ultra light plane

The ‘eye in the sky’ was out spotting for us and indeed the ultra light plane found quite a few pods of dolphins, at times up to a hundred or more in a pod. One of these accompanied and completely surrounded some whales, and at the back of this ‘wholphin’ pod was a group of about seven dusky sharks following all the action.  Some whales were having fun with breaches and tail slapping. We also saw diving and ‘rafting’ gannets, but still no sardine.

Sardine Run - Humpback whales

Whale breaching

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EYE IN THE SKY – FLYING THE SPOTTER PLANE | SARDINE RUN, SOUTH AFRICA

Diving Videos

FLYING THE ‘MOSQUITO’ SPOTTER PLANE FOR THE SARDINE RUN

Sardine Run-spotter plane

 Irene, Louis and his ultralight ‘mosquito’

Big Louis is the man. He lives in Limpopo, the northern most province of South Africa and owns a 2-stroke ultralight spotter plane, aka ‘the mosquito’.  He comes down to Coffee Bay with his wife, two teenagers, yorkie and 6 week yorkie x schnauzer puppy purely for the Sardine Run. It is his third or fourth season with Roland and Beulah and they work together as a team. His mission is to be the ‘eye in the sky’ and fly all day up and down the coast around Coffee Bay in search of the sardine action for African Dive Adventure clients.

I had the pleasure of going up with him today to experience the Sardine Run from this different perspective. After a spectacular day yesterday with the best personal encounters of whale action you could ever wish for, I was more than happy to give up my seat in the boat for another kind of action in the air.

Louis kitted me up on the beach outside the Ocean View Hotel with a helmet, microphone and seat belt. I had to make sure both my cameras were securely fastened to my person. Nothing was allowed to be loose or it could fall in the water, worse still hit Louis on the head or fly into the small engine behind me and stall the plane. With that in mind and a little intrepidation, off we went.

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Sardine Run-spotter plane

Tony with intrepidation – thumbs up!

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DIVING BAIT BALLS | SARDINE RUN | COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

Diving Videos

DIVING BAIT BALLS ON THE SARDINE RUN IN COFFEE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

The Sardine Run is a very special natural phenomenon.  The sheer number of sardines involved results in a feeding frenzy along the coastline of South Africa and in terms of biomass is said to rival East Africa’s great wildebeest migration.

The Sardine Run is where shoals of sardines drift north up the east coast of Africa to KwaZulu Natal and Mozambique from the cold waters of the Cape of South Africa.  These shoals can be more than 7km long, 1.5km wide and 30m deep and are very easily spotted by planes or from boats on the surface.

It is usually around May-July and involves billions of sardines. They spawn in the Agulhas Bank, the southern most point of South Africa and then head north along the south east coast of Africa. The run occurs when a current of cold water heads north from the Agulhas Bank to Mozambique, where it heads out into the Indian Ocean.  The Agulhas current is a warm, more northern current that pushes the cooler Atlantic southern current up against the east coast and hopefully forces the drifting sardines inshore so the run can be witnessed.

The Sardine Run is all about the water temperature. It has to fall below 21 degrees to happen. Sardines need cold water and will not be seen if the water is too warm. The run does not occur every year and in the last 23 years, it has failed on three occasions including 2003 and 2006. This year the weather is quite unseasonal. Today the air temp is 25C, unheard off at this time of the year.

DIVING A BAIT BALL IS ALL ABOUT ETIQUETTE IN THE WATER

The dive and snorkel briefing is all important as this is such an unusual phenomenon, if you do the wrong thing, you will disturb the bait ball action and it all ends for everyone.  Then the search has to be repeated to find another bait ball.

Sardine Run-Dive Briefing

Dive briefing from the Dive Master in the boat

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Snorkel with Humpback Whales – Mooloolaba QLD – 10th July 2014

Diving Videos

Humpback-Whale-Breach

Later this week Tony will be joining TravelThereNext to experience his first ever snorkel with these gentle leviathans of the sea, the beautiful graceful and enchanting humpback whales. Sunreef Scuba Dive Adventures of Mooloolaba have kindly invited them to go along with them in their first week of their thrilling new commercial venture.

This is a first for Sunreef and for the region, even ahead of the humpback capital of Hervey Bay, near Fraser Island. Credit to Phil and Dan Hart, owners of Sunreef who have managed to bring this exciting touristic attraction to the Sunshine Coast as no where else in Australia can this be experienced. This is going to be a win win for everyone, Sunreef, coast tourism in general and tourists, both Australian and international.

Our current winter water temperatures are around 17-23 degrees C and visibility can be up to 30m. Currently the forecast for mid week is 0.9m waves and 12 knot winds.

He is seriously looking forward to this opportunity and can’t wait to get in the water to be eye ball to eye ball with one of the largest creatures on the earth.  Read his story of the day’s experience in an article soon to be posted on TravelThereNext.com.

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Galapagos – Surface Interval

Diving Videos

Check out my latest Gallery photos from our ‘surface interval’ activities whilst in the Galapagos in 2007.

We enjoyed a week in October that year travelling around a select number of islands including Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Sante Maria on board a small live aboard, the ‘Aida Maria’ out of Puerto Ayora.

We had the opportunity to experience both ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ landings in an effort to see the amazingly barren landscape and surrounding seas of these rather remarkable islands.

The water temperatures were cold, about 17-20 degrees C, so diving and snorkelling were limited unless you had a thick wet suit.

But the land based tours were stunning, as was the abundant wild life which was generally completely un-fazed by numbers of tourists wandering through their habitat. Truly a diving naturalist’s dream holiday – we can’t wait to return!

HOT VIDEO PIX:

SEPTEMBER 2015 HOT VID PIX: Banded Sea Snake Eats Moray Eel - a fight to the death. Watch what happens at the 3.20 mark... AUGUST 2015 HOT VID PIX: Tears of a Mermaid - On Location: "Tigress" Tiger Shark Shoot Documentary, a Mctrax Motion Production With Jim Abernethy in the Bahamas. MAY 2015 HOT VID PIX: The Insatiable Hairy Frogfish - watch this fascinatingly 'fugly' creature catch and eat its prey. MARCH 2015 HOT VID PIX: Woman romances large eel! Meet Valerie Taylor and her unusual friendship with a large moray eel... FEB 2015 HOT VID PIX: Divers off Costa Rica come across a giant manta ray tangled in fishing line. Watch how it allowed them to free it. What a life changing experience... DECEMBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Flamboyant Deadly Cuttlefish - a short from Underwater Studios of Malaysia - taken on Kapalai island Sabah. Simply Stunning! NOVEMBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Glow In The Dark Shark Attack! : Yet another goodie from BioPixels. We have never seen anything like this before, simply creepy but stunning! (Love that Red Epic slow mo camera guys - keep up the good work!) OCTOBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Milking A Stone Fish: You heard it here! Dr Jamie Seymour from James Cook University talks about how to milk a stone fish, something I am sure we all need to know, ponder on and share, but never to personally try it at home. Love your work Jamie! SEPTEMBER 2014 HOT VID PIX: Ultimate Alien-like Spear Mantis Feeding On Fish In Slow Motion: Dr Jamie Seymour from James Cook University and Emmy Award winning cameraman Richard Fitzpatrick film club and spear mantis shrimps at 1500 frames per second. These guys just have too much fun 'at work'! AUGUST 2014 HOT VID PIX: Great White 4.5M Shark Bites Dive Rubber Ducky whilst filming on an Adventure Tour for the Sardine Run near Mossel Bay, South Africa. Thank you Riener for a fabulous interview on this most unusual behaviour of a great white. JUNE 2014 HOT VID PIX: Helping Out A Yellow Moray Eel - Gold Coast Seaway: Thanks to Dave Wyatt for this fabulous video of your helping out a poor helpless moray caught up in fishing wire as well as three hooks in its mouth. Good job Dave!

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