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Cool Drysuit Dives

European DTA Team

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In the mood for a snowy holiday when you can get back into the water? Why not get back to your favourite underwater sport instead of hitting the slopes like everyone else? Check these incredible dive sites and explore a new underwater world in your drysuit!

Rummu Quarry, Estonia

The quirkiest and spookiest ice diving site in Europe is only 45 minutes driving from the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. Rummu Quarry used to be a limestone mining site and a prison. When the excavation labour ceased in the 1990s, pumps that kept the quarry dry were shut down. Soon water started flooding the entire site. After the prison closed in 2012, Rummu became an adventure centre where you can practice different outdoor sports including diving in the crystal-clear waters of the quarry and explore the sunken ruins of the prison. Diving in Rummu Quarry is also available in the winter, making it a one-of-a-kind ice diving spot. Will you dare to do it?

Who to Dive With:

Adventurecenter Rummu

PADI 5 Star Center

Sireli Tanav 11, Harju Maakond, Rummu Quarry, Estonia 76102

+372 588 733 78

info@barrakuuda.ee

White Sea, Russia

Image by Viktor Lyagushkin

If diving in frozen lakes, which have almost no aquatic life, is not exciting enough for you, Russia is the place to go to practice marine ice diving. At the level of the Arctic Circle, the White Sea is the only sea that freezes in winter as all other places are warmed up by the Gulf Stream. Leaving from the shores of the region of Karelia, between St Petersburg and the border of Finland, you can go ice diving from December to April. In addition to impressive ice formations, you can also enjoy on the rocky sea-bed a surprise abundant marine fauna with soft coral, starfish, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins and sea anemones. An important point to remember, salt-water freezes at -1.8°C!

Who to Dive With:

Arctic Circle

PADI Dive Center

Nilmaguba, Loukhski Region, Republic of Karelia, Russia

(7) 495 105 7799

sever@dive.ru

Switzerland

You won’t find salty seas in Switzerland, but alpine lakes and rivers make for unique and mystical scuba diving.

Lake Geneva has a variety of dives to discover. Wall dives and freshwater scenery can be perused beneath the surface. There is even a wreck dive – a stellar spot for more advanced divers to take the plunge.

Another is Lake Zurich, where you can head to excellent scuba spots right from the shore. The lake is serene, with lofty mountains cascading upward from the lakeshore. Glacially fed, the lake has sublime visibility.

River divers will be blown away by the Verzasca, an impossibly clear river found just south of the Alps near the border of Italy.

Who to Dive with at Lake Geneva:

Scuba-Shop Villeneuve

PADI 5 Star Center and Instructor Development Center

Route D’Arvel 106, Villeneuve, Switzerland 1844

+41 21 9601535

phil@scubashop.ch

Austria

Salzburg Lake Image by Manfred Steidl

Landlocked Austria wouldn’t seem a good place for diving, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The Salzkammergut region of Austria has almost 170 lakes. A favourite is lake Attersee, where there are dive sites galore to check out, in this, the largest of the area’s lakes. Nazi treasures were once held in Wolfgangsee, and though you can’t take them with you, you can still see them on a dive.

During a trip here you can swim in the cold, gin clear water, checking out park benches, trees, and trails, all on a carpet of green grass. It’s unreal!

Who to Dive with at Salzburg Lakes:

Joe’s Wassersportcenter

PADI 5 Star Center

Innsbrucker Bundesstrasse 53, Salzburg, Austria 5020

+43 662 890259

info@wassersportcenter.at

Inspired to start your own ice diving adventure? Find out more about the PADI Ice Diver specialty and head to PADI Travel to look for amazing destinations.

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Blogs

Wining and Diving – Gozo

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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The Wining and Diving series sees Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown embark on a tour to tickle the taste buds as well as to discover amazing dive sites in wine-making regions around the world. Some of the best wines are influenced by sea breezes and a coastal climate, allowing two of Nick and Caroline’s passions to be combined into one epic journey.

**Please note, Nick and Caroline are not encouraging drinking before diving! The two activities are kept well apart on each of these trips.


Gozo is one of the most popular diving destinations for British divers, offering stunning underwater scenic dives along with plenty of wreck diving. Add to this the sunshine, professional dive centres and the relatively short flight and it is a perfect short-haul getaway.

We went for a long weekend dive conference and had heard that there was also an excellent vineyard on the island for us to try out on our non-diving day before flying home – perfect! With only two days of diving on the itinerary we wanted to pack in a much as we could, but the weather and the fact that Caroline had fallen down the stairs the week before and was struggling to walk very far – we needed help and the team at Calypso Divers really went out of their way to accommodate us, so rather that the usual shore diving the island has to offer, we started out visiting some of the most popular dives by boat.

Cathedral Rock and the Blue Hole showed off the dramatic seascape that is a feature of Gozo, with cliffs towering up out of the sea, caves and caverns where the power of the waves has created an underwater playground for divers. We visit Crocodile rock to see the schools of barracuda and to hunt for nudibranchs.

Our final dive saw us visit the wreck of the MV Karwela. This wreck is famous for its staircase that divers can descend and makes for an excellent photo opportunity.

Gozo is also well worth exploring top-side, with beautiful beaches, plenty of history and some lovely places to stop, relax and enjoy the food and drink of the region. We visit the family-owned Tal-Massar winery which hosts twice-weekly tours for groups, taking guests through the winery’s private estate and allowing them to enjoy the spectacular, unspoiled surroundings.

Tours also include a wine tasting featuring at least four different wines, plus traditional Gozo bread and cheese, sundried tomatoes and cold pressed olive oil. It was all delicious!


Links

  • For more information about Frogfish Photography click here.
  • For information about visiting Malta and Gozo click here.
  • For details on the dive centre we dived with click here.
  • For more information about the wine we sampled: Tal-Massar Winery
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News

Mission Blue announce Azores as new Hope Spot

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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Rising from the deep seafloor where three continental plates meet, the Azores Archipelago stands as a grand oasis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, underwater volcanoes host highly specialized fauna and rugged seamounts hold vibrant, thriving sponges and coral gardens. Forever loved by the whales, adventurous sailors, and its people, the rich heritage of the Azores Archipelago has become globally renowned and cherished. To flourish into future generations, stakeholders believe that these marine ecosystems need to be preserved by a comprehensive network of marine protected areas (MPAs).

Mission Blue, international ocean conservation nonprofit, recognizes the Azores Archipelago as a Hope Spot in support of a coherent network of MPAs that extend from the surface of the sea all the way down to the deep seafloor.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue, says, “The Azores Archipelago is a magnet for life. It really is a magical place.”  She continues, “Launching the Azores as Hope Spot is so logical – just ask the whales. They know how special this place is. This used to be a place where whales were killed and now people are making a living by respecting the whales and having people come out and visit them as fellow citizens of the planet.”

Christopher Pham, Azores Hope Spot Champion, adds, “The inclusion of the Azores as a Hope Spot is a significant step in our mission to promote the protection of this unique place.” Pham works as a research associate at the Okeanos research center of the University of the Azores specializing in deep-sea ecosystems and plastic pollution.

In 2019, the Regional Government of the Azores announced the Blue Azores program, in partnership with the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Waitt Institute that will lead to the declaration of 15% of the Azorean Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) as new no-take marine reserves. However, more work is needed in the conservation of the Azores marine territory, namely the implementation of MPA management plans and a strong Marine Spatial Planning policy, both in progress.

Perhaps what makes the Azores Archipelago such a precious gem of the sea is its rare and richly valuable ecological and biological qualities. The Azores contains a key portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – the most prominent ocean floor feature in the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the ocean is divided into eastern and western deep basins and hosts hydrothermal vent ecosystems. Seamounts in the Azores may act as essential “stepping stones” allowing the faunas from Madeira and Canaries, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea to reach the center of the North Atlantic.

Click here to explore the interactive Hope Spot StoryMap, hosted on ESRI.

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