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Ali D’s Diving Travels!

“They say the sea is cold but the sea contains the hottest blood of all” - my one woman mission to promote, and conserve the wonder of our oceans! Join me on my travels in 2020!
Jan 2020 - Shark School Bahamas
Mar 2020- Invasive Lionfish Speciality - volunteering in Belize
April 2020 - Florida Keys Road Trip
April 2020 - IDC & IE Bristol
May 2020 - Philippines
May 2020 - RAID Freediving course
July 2020 - White Shark cage diving Guadalupe
Aug 2020 - Shark Squad Liveaboard French Polynesia
Sep 2020 - Wrecks & Reefs Liveaboard Hurghada

Diary Entries

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Location: Northampton, UK

Jet lagged! Still on Bahamas time! When I should be sleeping I"m up - when I should be up I'm sleeping! However only three weeks to Belize so I'll soon be back in that time zone LOL!

So a lazy day playing with my videos - now I’m home it’s the first chance I’ve had to put some compilations together. Uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, my You Tube channel - I need to make more use of Twitter! One of my photos on the shark photography group on Facebook has made 230 likes so I'm really pleased about that. And I've done a lot of tagging and descriptions on You Tube too and have at least got into double figures with my subscriptions!

I'e also started my Instructor E-learning too! All busy busy! Madly I've signed up to do an IDC and IE after Belize so I need to get my stuff in order before I go. Lot's of stuff to organise!

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Location: Northampton, UK

Travelled for nearly 20 hours to get back to Northampton! Flew from Rock Sound on Eleuthera late afternoon Monday and arrived in Nassau only to find that there were issues with the flight home. Due to the flight not being able to land in Grand Cayman (the flight picks up/drops off in Nassau) there would be no food on board and we were delayed by initially an hour. There were people stuck in Grand Cayman and those going there were off loaded in Nassau so at least I was in a better position than them. BA were late checking in and offering a free meal in Wendy’s Burger bar - but luckily I had invested in the lounge! So I sat in a comfy chair and stuffed my face while drinking double rum and cokes. We were an hour and a half late eventually taking off - same on landing. But the flight was half empty so I lay across three seats which was nice. However the turbulence was horrendous and went on for virtually all the flight! Couple with a traffic jam on the M1 and a coffee stop off at Toddington services I finally reached home! I suppose I need to get used to potential travel delays given the amount I’m going to be doing! You can make good plans but there’s often stuff out of your control that messes it all up!

Sunday, 09 February 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

Final day - heading home tomorrow so just having a chill out day. My flight is not until late afternoon back to Nassau so packing can wait till the morning.

This has been a fantastic trip - not just Shark School but Nassau and the additional diving/exploring I’ve done in Eleuthera. I've met some fantastic people - it was a real pleasure sharing with Gisele, Nathalie and Valerie. I challenged my comfort zone by doing things I previously thought I wouldn't have done - thanks to Werner and Maurice because without them there's no way I'd have snorkelled with the Bull Sharks. The shallow water training and the close contact with the Reef Sharks was a really intense experience and it's going be really hard to top that - you simply don't get that close connection in any other way. Shark School is simply one of the best experiences I've had and it's not something that you do and leave. I think this is something I'll be pursuing going forwards.

It’s going to be really hard to return to the UK and leave the warm weather - roll on Belize in March! I think I've read that there are some resident Nurse Sharks on the reef in Belize - I do hope so because I definitely want to stay Sharkey!

Saturday, 08 February 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

More diving today - same sites as Thursday. Reef sharks spectacular as usual but accompanied by a couple of Nurse Sharks particularly on the second site. Nurse Sharks can be really curious and come really close. I think a lot of people don't get excited by Nurse Sharks, but in the pecking order of sharks they're actually right up there. Generally however, everyone assumes they're pretty friendly and harmless. In fact their bite relies on suction and I've heard in many cases if bitten the shark has to be surgically removed. First dive was a wall and we dropped down to a depth of 40 m's - we were hoping for maybe a Hammerhead but nothing came along. The second dive today was particularly good - lovely shallow reef around 15 m's and the Nurse Shark was beautiful, very dreamy eyes! Fantastic dive to finish the holiday on.

Friday, 07 February 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

Diving blown out today because of the wind - and I hear that back in the UK the wind is particularly bad too. Lazy day on the sun bed in the morning on the beach - got a bit sunburnt! In the afternoon we went for a it of snorkelling in the Marina with Bull and Nurse Sharks. We tried a different entry point and got down a ladder and stood knee deep while we put our fins on. A few feet away we noticed the drop off and three Bull Sharks waiting - bit of an eerie feeling! In the end we weren't that comfortable launching ourselves in there - we returned to our usual entry point on the pontoon on the marina where the water is slightly deeper. Immediately we were in we had Bull Sharks beneath us. They are amazing creatures even if they do set the heart pounding. I really look forward to doing more with Shark School because the next step would be diving with Bull's and Tigers - gives me food for thought for future holidays.

Thursday, 06 February 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

Another chance to dive with sharks today - this is an extra to Shark School. Visited the new Shark sites - first the wall where we chummed for a time to try to get some bigger stuff in; then the shallow reef. On both sites Captain Anderson sent down the Shark Feeder 3000 - we got some absolutely spectacular views of reef sharks again. Nearly ended up with the feeder on my head at one point - I get really deaf wearing that 6mm hood but I'd be dead cold without it.

Visited Rock Sound in the afternoon and changed accommodation again! Busy busy!

Wednesday, 05 February 2020

Location: Cape Eleuthera , Bahamas

Shark School 30th Jan to 5th Feb 2020
Been a fantastic and busy week - the Shark School team came together on Thursday for our welcome meeting. We met Dr Erich Ritter, an expert in shark behaviour and got an overview for the week. I shared a house with three awesome ladies from Switzerland - Gisele and her two daughters Nathalie and Valerie. They would be snorkelling with sharks while the divers consisted of myself, Werner and Maurice (father and son), and David - all three from Germany. Our days consisted of an initial dive to observe how the sharks interacted with us, coupled with tasks to perform with the sharks which Erich gave us. Second job of the day was shallow water training - essentially snorkelling with sharks at the back of the boat. This was an incredible experience - far more intense than the diving. To be amongst 20 plus sharks whilst food is thrown into the water is just awesome - you really get an up close experience. The exercise is designed to teach us how to interact - upright body position, pivoting and eye contact to maintain a connection with the shark. After returning to base and a few hours down time in the afternoon (where some tried a bit of snorkelling with the Bull and Nurse sharks in the Marina) we got together again for our two hour evening lecture with Erich. Over a series of 5 lectures we learned about the following;
First assessment of a shark
Swim patterns
How to recognise a relaxed shark
Behaviour
Incidents and Prevention
Do’s and Don’ts
Additional Shark School activities
After a well earned dinner and a few drinks we headed to bed ready to start again the following day!

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

Bit of an in between day to day. The rest of the shark school guests arrive today at some point and I had to move accommodation. I was supposed to dive but the wind was from the west and too strong so this made for a day of largely hanging around waiting for the guest house to be ready. Did some grocery shopping - figured I might as well make myself useful in case the others don’t get here till late. At least that way we’ve got breakfast. After being promised the key at 12 noon I finally got it at 4pm. To kill time I had a wander round a disused airfield near Cape Eleuthera. The runway is still there and you can still see markings in places, however to stop it being used for smuggling it’s had holes blown through it and nature had taken over. Found a load of used shotgun cases but more worryingly nearly trod on a tarantula! It didn’t move so it may just have been a shed skin but I didn’t hang around to look! Quick photo and cleared off! Just now waiting for our Shark School briefing which starts at 6pm. Fingers crossed for good weather for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

Day off from diving yesterday so drove up the island to Governors Harbour. Visited the Levy Plantation, one of the National Parks in the Bahamas. The walk trail takes nearly two hours but it’s worth the time. The walk is divided into sections ranging from medicinal and endemic plants, through to poisonous. There is a weather station on site and look out tower on one of the highest points giving excellent views all around. I made friends with the Bahamian Sliders in the water garden - these are a form of terrapin. They were extremely interested in the bag of crisps I ate as a mid walk snack but wisely I didn’t give them any. After my walk I had lunch at a bar/restaurant called Tippies - possibly the best meal I’ve had since getting here. Followed this up by a walk round Governors Harbour and headed back for a well earned rest. I’d been out for 7 hours!

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

Two shark dives completed today! One word - awesome! Can’t wait to start shark school proper! Despite a GoPro malfunction on dive one I got some fantastic footage on dive two. Vis was superb and the sharks are just beautiful - I could cry sometimes with the grace and elegance they show! Finally got my hire car sorted thanks to sis sending me a photo of my licence - another first! Never driven an automatic before! After revving the bollocks off it for 30 mins I finally got the measure of it! Did a bit of walking, shell collecting. Met a man who introduced me to his dog - she was gorgeous and gave me plenty of kisses. Ending the day nursing a Captain Morgan and Diet Coke whilst nearly getting killed by a falling coconut on the patio! Diving with sharks is safer! Statistically at least - I have it on good authority!

Monday, 27 January 2020

Location: Eleuthera , Bahamas

Arrived in Eleuthera yesterday - forgot to update my blog! Eleuthera was founded in the 1600’s and the word derives from the Greek for freedom! I know I’m probably dipping into high brow intellectual here, but if anyone’s ever read John Fowles “The Magus” they will get the significance of that word! It’s one of the best books ever! However my arrival was a bit more mundane - realised I’d forgot my driving licence and therefore couldn’t pick up my hire car! But I was rescued - there’s always a knight in shining armour when you need one (you know who you are)! Eleuthera is supposedly one of the most beautiful Bahamas islands - so says the guide book. But I have to say it’s true. Nestled in the Bahamian sea, so azure blue it’s unbelievable! I’m waxing a bit lyrical here but if you saw it you would know. Can’t wait to go diving tomorrow and se some sharkies!

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Location: Nassau , Bahamas

Had a day exploring Nassau - walked from Fort Fincastle near the harbour end of downtown to Fort Charlotte at the far end of Junkanoo Beach! Stopped off for lunch and a rum punch - back at the hotel just in time for Happy Hour! Heading over to Eleuthera tomorrow for Shark School later this week!

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Location: Nassau, Bahamas

Spent the afternoon diving with sharks at Stuart’s Cove - awesome experience particularly the close contact. The first dive was a wall dive, however due to the current we were unable to drop off and had to remain at the top. Not a hardship as this is where the sharks hang out. At least 30 resident reef sharks plus a similar number of nurse sharks - it took the reef sharks a while to come in close but the nurse sharks were there and curious right from the go. I found 6 nurse sharks sleeping together clustered in a gap in the rock and whilst the others were on their safety stop, the guide and I hung lower and the reef sharks really started to come in. Second dive was in the Arena where the divers kneel and the guide wears chain mail to hand feed the sharks. I’m not sure that this sits too well with me - it alters natural behaviour. Having seen simulated carcass feeding before I reckon that has to be closer to their norm. But ultimately any feeding alters behaviour but the trade off is awareness of sharks and thus their protection - that has to be worth it. For sheer spectacle this experience can’t be matched. I got whacked round the head twice by a reef sharks tale, and felt my heart rate rise while a nurse shark decided to rest its head on the back of my leg. I have to say I love nurse sharks with their screwed up faces! I was one very very happy diver! Afterwards the guide told me he thought I looked like I got a few dives under my belt and was instructor quality - we high fived when I told him I was an Assistant Instructor. I was so happy I brought a Stuart’s Cove hoodie and nearly missed the bus back - and nearly left my Go Pro behind, which would have been a tragedy! I celebrated a great day with veggie paella and rum punch!

Friday, 24 January 2020

Location: Nassau , Bahamas

Arrived in Nassau after a nearly 10 hour flight where I only discovered my headphones for the in flight entertainment in my seat pocket an hour before the end! Thank God for Pet Rescue and Fishdom - I unlocked at least another two aquariums on route! Max the parrot still resides in the Towne Hotel and is still as viscous as before! Chillin on the roof top terrace with a double rum and coke after the obligatory visit to Signor Frogs! Watched the cruise ships on their way as they left port and had a general wander - looking to buy rum but the shops had closed (seems they shut down early here). Dive gear ready to go for tomorrow - just need to sort the GoPro and we’re about done for today!

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Location: Northampton, UK

Eventful day but on my way! Spending the night at Heathrow for an early start tomorrow. Had the inevitable fight with Donald and the cat box only to find when I arrived at the cattery that I had left all the cat toys at home! Still they’ll get some on loan from there and probably be more interested in them rather than their own! Then got down the M1 as far as Milton Keynes before I had to do a u turn and go back to get a piece of diving kit I forgot! But all good now - dinner and a G & T and a bit of telly! 10 hour flight tomorrow!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Location: Northampton, England

Packed and ready to go! Loving my new dive bag - it’s going to get plenty of use! Heading to Heathrow tomorrow for a flight early Friday morning - Nassau here we come!

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Location: Northampton, England

Trip 1 countdown - packing has commenced! Getting the dive gear ready!


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