MALDIVES DIVING HOLIDAYS

Life beneath the surface in the Maldives is an underwater Disneyland, perfect for dive enthusiasts. The Maldives is renowned as one of the very best diving locations in the world. There’s not only an abundance of reef life here but also spectacular coloured coral and crystal clear water.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Nigel Wade

WHY CHOOSE THE MALDIVES FOR YOUR DIVING HOLIDAY?

The Maldives ticks all of the boxes when it comes to diving holidays. This tropical location boasts visibility levels of up to 40 meters, making it a great destination for advanced divers. However diving in the Maldives is not just for the experienced. The shallow lagoons and channels make it the perfect location to try diving for the very first time. Plus what better destination in the world is there to gain your scuba-diving certifications?

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Renee Sorenson

The Maldives is also home to protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The presence of currents in this island nation means that open water channels are perfect for drift diving and it’s also possible to swim with gentle ocean giants like manta rays and whale sharks. Don’t forget the Maldives has year round water temperatures of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius!

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR FOR DIVING IN THE MALDIVES

Fortunately, the diving season in the Maldives is open all year round with the calmest conditions from December through to June. As the Maldives is located in the tropics, it is susceptible to both wet and dry seasons. June to November is the south-west monsoon season, bringing with it with overcast and wet conditions, especially in June and July. During these months expect slightly less visibility and different currents, although there is still plenty of marine life on offer, as well as sunny spells. Generally reef life is more varied and visibility is better on the western side of any atoll from May to November and on the eastern side from December to April. Reef sharks, hammerheads and whale sharks are found in the Maldives year round, along with manta rays and sea turtles, you just need to know where to head at the time of year you plan to dive!

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Renee Sorenson

DIVING OPTIONS

There are a number of diving options when it comes to Maldives. For example at Secret Paradise, value for money diving holidays and tours will be offered that you will remember for a lifetime. Enjoy an all-inclusive guesthouse stay and be transferred by boat to incredible nearby dive sites, the same sites that you would dive from a resort but at half the cost! Our diving holidays are an affordable alternative to a resort stay and also allow you the flexibility of island hopping or if your budget is larger, atoll hopping to benefit from the best dive locations during your time of travel.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Renee Sorenson

Liveaboards are a popular dive holiday option, allowing you to scour the waters for the ultimate dive spot each day. These days most Liveaboards operate a year round schedule offering 7 night, 10 night and 14 night cruises not only in the central atolls but to the deep south and deep north offering opportunities to discover less dived sites and pristine coral.

SECRET PARADISE DIVING HOLIDAYS

 Secret Paradise, offers six diverse one island based diving packages, all in different atolls allowing you access to what are some of the best dive sites in the world. Our packages include Dharavandhoo, perfect if you want to encounter 100s of manta rays in Baa Atoll, Hulhumale if you need to stay close to the capital, Maafushi, South Male Atoll, Dhigurah home of the whale shark in Ari Atoll, Rasdhoo, the ideal location to spot a hammerhead and Gan in Laamu atoll.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Boutique Beach

Our island hopping itineraries in Male Atoll and Ari Atoll allow you to discover a range of dive sites and marine life whilst at the same time experiencing Maldives local life, tradition and culture, with or without a private dive guide.

DIVE TEAMS

All partners of secret Paradise are PADI affiliated dive centers and are operated by both local and European dive professionals. A personal interest is taken in promoting scuba diving in the Maldives, through education and awareness about the underwater environment here. Their objective is to encourage underwater conservation and safe diving practices

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Nigel Wade

Dives are generally conducted from the beach within an island’s inner reef for beginners or from a local dive boat, a dhoni, for certified divers. Dive sites are chosen daily based on both the weather and current conditions as well as diver ability.

The teams will take you to the best dive spots and willingly introduce you to the characteristics of the underwater world of the Maldives. All offer boat dives, NITROX, night dives and a full range of PADI courses and will always ensure you get the best out of your dive. If you are learning to dive, you can do anything from completing a try dive or just the open water dive section of your PADI Open Water certification to completing the full PADI Open Water certification. Whatever you choose to do you can be assured of fun and safe diving with us and our partners.

Photo credit - Ruth Franklin

Photo credit – Nigel Wade

Secret Paradise Co-Founder, Ruth Franklin a diver herself with over 1500 dives in the Maldives is always happy to share her own diving experiences and is on hand for honest dive advice.

About Secret Paradise

Since 2012 Secret Paradise has been at the forefront of the Maldives local island tourism industry, promoting and supporting guesthouses, dive centres and activity operators based on locally inhabited islands throughout the Maldives archipelago. Offering group and private tours or independent travel packages, Secret Paradise holidays are designed to allow guests to engage with local people and experience the best from a paradise generally known as a luxury resort destination.

Responsible Tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life. We partner NGOs such as Save the Beach and marine charity organisations such as Maldives Whaleshark Research Program to provide opportunities for our guests to learn and support local conservation initiatives.

The benefit of travelling with us is that Secret Paradise guarantees you prompt and efficient personal service. We deliver high standards of service and professionalism and you can rely on Secret Paradise to provide expert local knowledge, clear communication and honest advice.

www.secretparadise.mv

Customer Service

Because we are spending time and money to bring customers through our doors, we must offer excellent customer service!

And with all of the customer touch points out there and all of the channels consumers have for obtaining goods and services we need to step-up our game!

There is a new bar

Customers now have the expectation you’ll provide nothing less than exceptional customer service..!

Expectations

“Your company is no longer being compared to just your competition. Your customers compare you to the great service they had at the restaurant they ate at last night – or any other company inside or outside of your industry that provided them with a good customer service experience.” Shep Hyken

 

Elements of Exceptional Customer Service Includes

  • A staff with a passion
  • Employees that have a smile (even on the phone)
  • A staff that have your customer’s interest at heart and understand your businesses culture

Great Customer Service is An Attitude!

 

Top 3 Customer Service tips

  1. Listening and confirming what has been said is key. People don’t care how much you know, they care about how much you care. Too often we’re not listening, we’re waiting to talk. When it is your time to talk be aware of your communication style and potential pitfalls (ummms, body language)

Remember that 55% is tone, 38% is body language, only 7% is words

 

  1. Using a positive language: it greatly affects how the customer HEARS your response

Example one –  “our ‘x’ language instructor can’t teach you and is unavailable at this time to answer your questions”

Example two – “our ‘x’ language instructor, who will be perfect to teach you this course, is available for you in two days time. Until then he/she can answer some of your question by email”

  1. Tenacity

Demonstrate to your customer you will do what it takes to deliver a product or service that meets their needs and wants.

 

Customers are people too, and knowing that putting in the extra effort will come back to you ten-fold.

 

Please contact your PADI Regional Manager if you wish to know more – or if you are interested in a Customer Service Training session.

 

 

Kuredu, Sea Turtles Heaven

Since 4th November 2016, 74 sea turtles have been registered around Kuredu (Kuredu House Reef/Laoon, Kuredu Express, Kuredu Caves and Kuredu Coral Garden). 58 of those individuals are Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).

The reef around Kuredu houses almost one third of all registered Green sea turtles in the Maldives. Incredible! The island is an important feeding and nesting ground for Green sea turtles.

The Stars:

Audrey (GR459) is a regular in Kuredu Lagoon and often observed enjoying her sea grass meals. This Green turtle is easily identified by its missing left rear flipper. Despite being handicapped, Audrey is in good shape (and has a big appetite)!

Pia (456) is a juvenile Green sea turtle with a shell length of about 40cm. With 20 registered sightings, Pia is the most sighted individual at Kuredu Caves!

Bjoern (GR38) is one of the first identified sea turtles in the Maldives. Also, he is the only male at Kuredu Caves! His impressive size of 70cm in shell length and the long tail gives him away as a male. The length of a sea turtle’s tail tells the sex.

Every sea turtle has a unique scale pattern on the left and right side of its head. This pattern allows for individual identification and population assessments. As part of the “Hurawalhi sea turtle ID project”, every sea turtle sighting is registered. Supporting the project will be rewarded! If you submit right and left side pictures of a newly identified sea turtle, you can name it! Become a sea turtle’s namesake for a kind donation of $50 to the Olive Ridley Project. You will receive a naming certificate and updates whenever your sea turtle gets relighted.

FUN FACT: Green Sea Turtles can hold their breath for over 4 hours.

 

Prodivers is one of the leading dive and watersport operators in the Maldives with currently five 5* PADI dive centres. If you are fancy visiting them please check out their website www.prodivers.com

“Person of the Year”

“Person of the Year” of the Republic of Maldives

Maldives First PADI Course Director Mr.Hussain Rasheed Sendi was named “Person of the Year”  at Maldives Travel Awards People’s Edition by Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tourators (MATATO).

Sendi who is also the Managing Director of Dive Oceanus has been among the active dive industry professionals who have worked hard in training the youth as dive masters and instructors. His contribution to keep the marine industry safe is remarkable while his experience and knowledge to keep the diving industry going ahead by awareness programmes on species and environment have benefited the tourism industry and the nation.

The first event of Maldives Travel Awards People’s Edition has been held on 13th July at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi in North Male’ Atoll.

Ten Individuals were honored with the title of “Person of the Year” at the special function. MATATO started the Nation’s first travel industry recognition brand in 2012 and succesfully deleivered Maldives Travel Award events in the country and a special edition in Dubai.

In 2017 MATATO has introduced 3 editions of Maldives Travel Awards, recognizing Guesthouses, People’s Edition and the Gala.

 

 

Kuredu Express – One dive site, endless experiences

A favourite dive site of many guests, Kuredu Express is full of surprises – the varied topography coupled with the ever-changing current conditions mean it’s never the same dive twice. This well-known site is dived by Prodivers Kuredu 3-4 times a week, and during the last 10 years we’ve dived it a whopping 2337 times!

What makes Kuredu Express so alluring?

Currents

The ‘Express’ part of the site’s name comes from the currents that flow here – sometimes fast and furious, sometimes mild and mellow but often quickly changing. The outreef current and channel currents each play their part in how the site is dived, adding to the variety of diving on offer here. Due to the rapid changes in currents, divers can encounter a vast variety of marine life which makes diving on Kuredu Express a special and unique experience. With the right conditions this site can be accessible to most qualified divers.

Topography

It’s a dramatic site with three distinct areas – the sandy channel, the corner with large terraces and the huge overhangs or bays at the start of the outreef.

Sharks!

Famous as having one of the largest shark populations in the Lhaviyani Atoll, with the right conditions the shark action here can be mind blowing, but there’s more to the life on Kuredu Express than just sharks… there’s an enormous quantity of schooling fish, eagle rays, sting rays, napoleon, tuna and, on rare occasions, even hammerhead sharks. Turtles, moray eels, and even leaf fish have been found here too. If it’s the sharks that interest you, learn about them prior to a dive with them during our Maldivian Shark and Ray Diver course, a PADI Distinctive Specialty.

Great photographic opportunities

With a small current divers can take their time exploring the overhangs and getting great shots with blue water background and, when the current is pumping, simply hang on and enjoy the show unfold at the corner as the pelagic photobomb your every shot!

Location

Just 5 minutes from Kuredu jetty – it doesn’t get much more convenient than this.

On 12th April 2017, Laurie Miller, 40 time repeater guest on Kuredu, dived Kuredu Express for the 150th time. He is a passionate diver and his knowledge of marine life is impressive. We asked Laurie to share his views about our beloved Kuredu Express:

What is it about Kuredu Express that fascinates you?

“It’s like doing 3 dives in one. First you have the deep channel with nice overhangs where strong currents present the opportunity to see some of the bigger fish, then you have the outreef where we usually see the big Napoleons and lastly the bays where the fish life is booming.”

What are your most memorable moments on Kuredu Express?

“When the sharks are swimming between the divers. First time I’ve ever seen a Blacktip reef shark was on Express. One of the few places where you will find the Palette Surgeonfish, a.k.a. Blue Tang, a.k.a. Dory. I’ve seen the peacock flounder there as well.”

How would you sum up Kuredu Express?

“It’s a different experience with new challenges every time you do it because of the different currents.”

We left Laurie to enjoy the rest of his 40th stay on Kuredu, in fact he’s still here, enjoying diving free of charge as a special perk for visiting 40 times. Check out our generous Repeater Discount Program and you could follow in Laurie’s footsteps

PADI Continuing Education – Specialty Courses

Since you started diving, I´m sure you heard your Instructor saying, at least once a day, that it is important to continue your education. I´m sure you did – otherwise you would not have become a PADI Professional… But what is Continuing Education and why is it so important for yourself and the diving Industry in general? If you are familiar with the PADI system, you should know and understand that the continuing Education is the backbone of the PADI System.

 

 

Are you already a Specialty Instructor?

The Power of Continuing Education (CON-ED)

The power of the PADI system of diver education is its diversity in courses

  • From entry level all the way up to professional
  • All are standardized
  • Aim is to improve specific skills
  • Specialization improves the market value
  • Enough choices for everybody

It adds variety in teaching… Which means that you are not only stuck with the core course like the PADI Open Water Course, the PADI Advanced Open Water course or the PADI Rescue course. It connects in the same time to the interest of the student and improves the skills and therefore the safety of the divers.

Specialty courses can create different tracks to follow; For example it can add-on sales of diving equipment, or it will open a road to the PADI Master Scuba Diver certification.

It is essential that an Instructor in these days can offer various Specialty courses.

How many Specialty Certifications do you have?

What if I tell you that Specialties are the reason to become very successful in the diving industry? The more specialties you can teach and the more languages you can bring into a new position for a Dive Center – the more valuable you will become in the whole industry.

I can only highly recommend that you follow the Specialty Instructor Training! It will certainly build up your confidence and it will give you new insights. The more specialties you offer, the bigger your income can grow!

 

It shows to the Dive Center owner and to PADI that you understand the PADI philosophy – and together with the new Elite Instructor program – it will also be recognized by PADI.

How can you apply to become a PADI Specialty Instructor?

There are two ways to obtain the Specialty ratings:

  • The first is completing a PADI Specialty Instructor course with a PADI Course Director. This reduced the number of dives you must have – 10 versus 20 – showing experience in the specialty area.
  • If you already have the experience (min. 20 logged dives), you can apply directly to your PADI Regional Headquarters. You will find on the PADI Prosite the Specialty Instructor Application.

To summarize – If you offer a variety of courses – this will have a direct impact in your Dive Center.

Why?

Specialty certifications have a direct impact on equipment sales, because the courses are creating a demand for new equipment and it also triggers the lust for more adventure. At the end of the day you will have more satisfied customers and happier staff.

To push the PADI Continuing Education courses is the foundation for success! Because your Customers are always aiming for new experiences and challenges.

Check out the newest challenges for 2017

PADI Elite Instructor

2017 – MSD My PADI Challenge

 

 

What does your business image say?

Professional image:

One of the things I love most about working in the diving industry is that my 3 piece suit hasn’t seen the light of day for some time, save for the odd wedding and funeral. But does that mean that you can dress however you’d like? Professional image is important and there is a huge weight of Psychology studies which limit first impressions to the microsecond. This means that despite how informal the workplace, how you and your business are perceived has an impact. This tenth of second reaction effects someone’s judgment on your competency, trustworthiness, and professionalism. Once someone has formed that First impression it is very difficult to change their mind. Those Companies that provide both a professional image and another fundamental aspect of your business, quality service, not only attract buy also retain customers.

In my role as Regional Manager, I am constantly on the road, at dive sites, working with professionals which in turn means I get to see numerous dive centres and businesses around the globe. There is a marked difference in those that present their business in a professional way and others, who sometimes leave me wondering who’s a customer or the employee.

I am not suggesting that you impose a uniform but moreover if you have not already done so start to think about your corporate identity. If shabby chic, hipster, city worker or chain store is the image you are going for then make sure that you make it part of your overall business image, by this I mean the way your shop, website, marketing present itself down to the clothing you and your team wears.

Brand identity:

As a business owner, it is important to take some time to sit down and identify your Brand. What is it that makes you different, there are a lot of dive businesses out there, but what is yours to you? Once you know that you can start to build your own Brand. Brand identity primary means the way you communicate your corporate identity by your branding. Yes, I did mean corporate identity in diving, you are a professional at the end of the day and there is no shame in earning money by doing something, even if you love doing it.

I am willing to bet you already have a Logo but what about a slogan and mission statement? Once you get it right your brand becomes synonymous with the product, regardless of the company that makes it. PADI, for example, is the way the world learns to dive for a reason. Many companies are known from just their logos and some of the most successful companies are identifiable from just a colour scheme or collection of sounds.

One thing I like to see is when a team stands out at often crowded dive sites. When your team is visible there is no doubt for your customers on who they can approach for help. If you or your team is not clear then perhaps someone else’s is and that company inadvertently pick up your customers.

Cert of completion

As PADI has regional managers (RM) who are here to help we can work with you on your branding, website and professional image. If you feel that you have already put the effort in why not ask for a Professional Image Evaluation from your RM.

 

Fourth Element:

PADI has also teamed up with Fourth Element to help with gaining some form of identity for both your business and your customers. For help with a Bespoke Clothing Enquiry click on this link and enter your details http://fourthelement.com/padi/. 

If you feel you would like to start from the beginning then get in touch as PADI is here to help. perhaps it could be something as simple as your Logo needs some revamping, there is a host of services out there and as RMs we can help point you in some directions.

Sharks, Rays and Turtles – Your PADI Speciality with Prodivers Kuredu

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Ray van Eeden

You got to love sharks, rays and turtles! In fact, at Kuredu Prodivers we love our residents so much that we’ve compiled everything we know about them and created two specialty courses that you should put on your must-do list: Maldivian Shark & Ray Distinctive Specialty Course, and Sea Turtle Diver Course. These two courses provide the best way for you to learn more about these incredible animals – and of course see them in their natural environment, at reefs around Kuredu.

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

During the Maldivian Shark and Ray course you will find out more about the incredible sensory system that sharks and rays possess, learn how to identify the different species, determine their gender and understand the mating behaviour, as well as the need for us to preserve and protect the current populations of sharks and rays. The narrow channels, where the currents flow in and out of the atoll and the deep out reefs around Kuredu are the ideal habitat to get encounters with sharks and rays.

Photo by Marek Machinia

Photo by Marek Machinia

For those of you prefer the sleepy headed sea turtles, the Sea Turtle Course will surely be of interest to you, especially since Kuredu is home to the largest known population of Green Sea Turtles in the Maldives. With over 63 identified individuals resident around the island, this makes it the perfect place to enrol in the course. It offers the chance to learn more about how turtles have adapted and evolved through their fight for survival, and you will also learn how to identify the different species and to distinguish whether they are male and female, and how they reproduce. Are you familiar with the famous Kuredu Caves, a.k.a. Turtle Airport? The course is also available to snorkelers.

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

Photo by Stefanie Wagner

The PADI Maldivian Shark & Ray Distinctive Specialty Course was developed by Prodivers to help increase the awareness about these magnificent creatures. Get in touch with us to find out more about diver qualification requirements for the courses.

Visit www.prodivers.com or drop us an email via info@prodivers.com

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PADI Pioneers: Generating Ocean Warriors in the Maldives

In a quiet corner of a luxury resort in the Maldives you’ll find an PADI Five Star IDC centre quite unlike any other.

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Teaching Maldivians to scuba dive might seem to some like selling coals to Newcastle. Wherever you stand in the Maldives, you’re always barely a stone’s throw from the ocean, and many Maldivians can swim before they can walk. Diving is in the country’s DNA.

It could come as a surprise to some then, that until the mid-2000s, there were only a handful of places offering PADI Instructor Development Courses in the country, with many aspiring instructors actually having to travel to Thailand to complete their certifications.

Founding an Institution

Luckily, this didn’t go unnoticed by Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed, the Maldives’ first and only PADI Course Director and in 2006, he decided to do something about it. Working at the time as the operations manager of Holiday Island Resort & Spa, part of the Villa conglomerate, Sendi approached the company chairman – the Hon. Qasim Ibrahim – and shared his concerns about the lack of educational opportunities for local dive and water sport professionals.

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The conversation would not only change his own life, but would ultimately change the face of diving education in the Maldives. Convinced by the lack of Maldivian educational facilities for divers, Mr Ibrahim asked Sendi to oversee the development of an institution that would change all that. Like Sendi, he wanted to provide a space for Maldivians to become qualified leaders in the diving field. And with that, The Villa Institute of Water Sports and Hospitality was born the same year.

A Place in the Sun

Purpose-built in a quiet corner of Sun Island Resort & Spa (another Villa Hotel), the institute quickly became a hub for young dive and water sports enthusiasts hoping to make a career in the industry. With spacious student and teacher accommodation and modern classrooms overlooking a lagoon that welcomes whale sharks and manta rays to its outer reef, the establishment is enough to make any Course Director drool.

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But what makes the institute really special is what it aims to achieve. Its objective? To equip a new generation of certified PADI Dive Masters and Instructors with the skills needed to become not only leaders in the field of recreational diving tourism but also trailblazers in ecological advocacy.

Expansion and Diversification

Lofty goals to say the least, but within a few short years it has managed to do just that. After a restructuring to become the founding faculty of Villa College, (now the Maldives’ leading private education provider offering courses in everything from marketing to law) and an expansion to include facilities in the capital, the reigns were handed over to Dr. Sham’aa ‘Anna’ Hameed. Under her leadership and the close involvement of Sendi, the institute is well on track to realise its vision.

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Not only does the faculty run multiple PADI Instructor Development Courses throughout the year, it now offers Certificate Three, foundation and even degree courses in marine studies that offer PADI electives as course credit.

Ocean Warriors

These courses provide students with the tools to become innovators in the field of marine studies. As a result, graduating students go on to enter the Maldivian workforce in a number of roles: as dive and water sports instructors of course, but also as researchers, marine biologists, wildlife rangers, even government environmental officials and legislators.

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What started as an initiative of affirmative action to provide quality education and training for locals has now developed into an educational model that is forward thinking on an international level. As such, they are arming a legion of self-titled ‘Ocean Warriors’ with the skills to be the next generation of environmental guardians and leaders in the Maldivian diving industry.

 

About the author: Adele Verdier-Ali is a freelance travel writer and content marketer who has been living in the Maldives for over six years. She’s a certified PADI rescue diver and when she’s not underwater, she writes about Maldivian culture and tourism. You can read more of her thoughts over on www.littlebirdjournal.com

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Big Business for Prodivers Maldives

Divers who signed up to join the Noon Atoll full-day trip with Kuredu Prodivers hoped to see some ‘big-stuff action’ with the locally renowned shark spot, Orimas Thila, high on their agenda. They got rather more than they bargained for…Blue Whale

On their way back, whilst on their dhoni, crossing the channel between the Noon and Lhaviyani Atolls, something big was spotted in the water – or rather something massive!

Blue Whale

In fact, they witnessed the largest creature ever to have lived on Earth – a Blue Whale! Great excitement ensued and estimates of size range from ‘huge’, 12 metres and 18 metres. Blue whales can grow to over 33 metres in length and have a heart weighing as much as a car. Their huge mouth can fit 100 people inside but, fear not, we are not on their menu; Blue Whales are filter feeders and eat krill – shrimp-like invertebrates.

Blue Whales have been around on Earth for about 54 million years and were once prolific, but in the first half of the 20th century they were almost hunted to extinction. There are now an estimated total of 10.000 – 25,000 individuals left on the planet and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List rates them as ‘endangered’. While whaling is no longer a threat, increased shipping leading to more collisions, oil spills and climate change all threaten the existence of the majestic Blue Whales. Blue Whale

 The ocean is full of surprises and, as well as the usual exciting encounters of sharks and manta rays, as you can see, every now and then something a little more unusual and unexpected turns up.

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