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Hello everone!

I'm once again back from hollidays! My girlfrend and I went to Helengeli, that's a small island on the Maldives in the North-Male atoll.

To give you a small impression of the island... this is how Helengeli looks from above:

Helengeli.from.top.jpg

Helengeli really is a nice place to stay. It's a wonderfull marvel of a classical Maldivian island with a lot of trees and bushes and wonderfull clear beach with white sand and blue water.

Helengeli-Beach.jpg

Helengeli-Sand.jpg

This is a small plan of the Helengeli island itself:

Helengeli-Map.png

My brother already visited the island some years ago and he told me that it's a nice place for diving! Staying in the hotel managed by Manta Reisen, we visited the Ocean Pro Dive Center there and went diving for 12 days.

Helengeli-OceanPro.jpg

The dive center manager is called Uwe. He's a very experienced diver who knows the place and the sea very well and he was able to show us really nice places!

I should not forget to mention Line, Manja and Gio, all dive guides of the Ocean Pro dive center, who organized the dive excursions besides Uwe. Line was with us when we all saw our first waleshark...
... but let's start at the beginning.

When we arrived we were quite tilt. Neighter Kathrin nor I could really sleep in the plane and so we were up for 30 hours or so. First thing we did was to check in everywhere and then drop dead to bed.

The next day and the following two days we did some refresher dives where we did not see a lot of stuff. I have to mention that I had a new dive computer with me, an UWATEC Gallileo, which i wanted to test during the hollidays. It lit up like a christmas tree under water... ;)

Luckily I had my old dive computer with me as well and so I was able to dive as always using my old one while exploring the new and shiny one which shows so much more information under water that you're simply confused at first... :D

Anyway, after some dives I had found out that I needed to activate Profile Dependend Intermediate Stops but change the air integration to accept 30 bar as reserve for the Remaining Bottom Time calculation instad of calculating with a 80 bar reserve, which I anyway don't have and don't want. Having changed that, it suddenly was quite a lot of fun to have beats per minutes of your own heart, remaining bottom time approximation, microbubble protection and profile dependant intermediate stops. It also plots very nice profile graphs overlayed with bpm or temperature at which you can look live under water. It would even support multi-gas features like adaptive microbubble predictive multi-gas algorithms but that's nothing I can use atm. since you need to have multiple tanks with different gases for that.

Here's a small map of the dive spots around Helengeli (the upper right part):

OceanPro-divemap.jpg

Anyway... having mastered the new computer and having made some easy dives we started off for Bodu Thila, a dive place near Helengeli where some current has to be expected. Now, to be true... it was a lot more than some current and having never experienced that much current under water, using up my air in exorbitant rate, I aborted the dive and Kathrin and I came up after 19min, which probably is our shortest dive ever... :)

Needless to say that my girlfriend performed more than great and was not half as stressed as I was... *hide* Kathrin is starting to become a really experienced diver!

IMG2758-kathrin-small.jpg

After that crazy dive at Bodu Thila, everything started to normalize. And from then on we had wonderful dives! Check out these nice corals:

IMG2719-corals-small.jpg

Sometime in the first week we finally visited Farytale. That's a place where Mantas can be found often in this time of the year. And we were lucky! More than 6 animals came by in the time we digged us in on the ground and we had wonderful 74 minutes under water!

I made as many pictures as possible...
... at first we only saw them from afar...

IMG2777-manta1-small.jpg

Then more near...

IMG2781-manta2-small.jpg

But then the next ones flew directly over our heads...

IMG2782-manta3-small.jpg

And you won't belive it, there came more and more of the huge animals...

IMG2783-manta4-small.jpg

And they did not shy in any form...

IMG2784-manta5-small.jpg

But behaved, as if they own the sky, the land and the sea...

IMG2785-manta6-small.jpg

... and nothing on earth could ever change that!

IMG2788-manta7-small.jpg

IMG2789-manta8-small.jpg

IMG2790-manta9-small.jpg

IMG2791-manta10-small.jpg

It was great! Can't say more... simply great, great, great... ;)

When we visited the place a second time, two days later, we did not find the mantas again. On the other hand we swam into a pack of White Tip Sharks hunting on the reeftop we were drifting over. The pack consisted of 6 very active hunting White Tip Sharks, which swam around us for more than a minute!

Some days later we visited the Trix Caves. Another famous dive spot, where big open caves are carved into the 40m deep dropoff at the outer reef. Here's a picture where I look from the Trix Caves out into the blue, where we saw a Waleshark some minutes after I made this picture!

IMG2843-trixcave1-small.jpg

Directly out of the blue you see in the above picture a gigant 7-8m long waleshark appeared, swam parallel to us for some seconds and then disappeared again into the blue again! You can't belive how shocked we all were, suddenly seeing such a huge monster (it looks very shark-like!) appear out of the blue!

Our guide - it was Line on this day - did not yet have seen a waleshark near Helengeli eigther and was very happy when it suddenly happed! This is how she looked afterwards... do you see how exhilarated she was? ;) We all looked similar...

IMG2857-line-small.jpg

And I should not forget to mention that we saw two Spotted Eagle ray immediately after the waleshark... we could not belive our luck!

Kathrin had loaned a lamp in the dive center and had a lot of fun exploring the Trix Caves with it! There are so many colors down there, if you only have light to show them! It's like Alice's wonderland... you just have to open it up with a light-thrower... ;)

IMG2861-trixcave2-small.jpg

Kathrin also found her first slug by herself! And I even was able to make a picture of the second one she found! It's a Wart Slug becoming up to 7cm in size!

IMG2892-cropped.jpg

Some days later we finally were able to visit Bodu Thila a second time! This time the current was very easy and we saw several white tip sharks near the Thila...

IMG2930-shark1-small.jpg

On the same dive we also saw a Yellow Spotted Burrfish, which looks very strange and nearly alien!

IMG2921-small.jpg

On the third to last day we did another dive at Bodu Thila. This time we had a bit more current, but it was still easy going. No comparision to the first dive we did there. This time we found some more sharks...

IMG2923-shark2-small.jpg

IMG2925-shark3-small.jpg

IMG2930-shark4-small.jpg

All in all it were wonderful hollidays and we had a lot of fun! We saw nearly everything we wanted to see and some of it even in abundance!

IMG2938-goatfish-small.jpg

The new dive computer also performed very well and if it would not be so expensive (it costs EUR2000 with all sensors) I probably would buy one for myself. Let's see if I can simply loan it, next time I go diving...

Let's hope it does not take long until we find the time for the next dive hollidays!

Elphinstone: Oceanic white tip sharks!

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Hello everyone!

I'm back from holidays! My girlfriend and I went to Marsa Alam at the Red Sea for a week. Staying at the Oasis Hotel, we visited the Sinaidivers dive center there and went diving for 5 days.

On the first day I've meet Tim, an old friend from Sinaidivers in Sharm el Shaik. He was doing holidays in Marsa Alam before we arrived and afterward helped out in the dive center for the next three weeks.

In the last three days we went two times to Elphinstone, a famous dive cite near Marsa Alam. Elphinstone is a Shaab, meaning an offshore reef near the coast of Marsa Alam just east of the Oasis hotel. It's a difficult dive site with the sea going down to 200m at all sides.


View Larger Map

In summer you can find a lot of Tiger sharks there. We hoped to see them, but sadly the season was already over and they left the reef. But we were lucky: In autumn the Oceanic White Tip shark season just began!

We were able to dive two times at the Elphinstone reef, each time reaching the reef by zodiac. Both time we did a marvelous dive at the reef and tried to spot the sharks. The first time we did not find them while diving, but coming back to the zodiac the sharks suddenly showed up!

They like stuff swimming at 5m or even at the surface of the sea. They are very intelligent and they like to investigate stuff swimming in their district. Being already in the zodiac and jumping back into the water, I forgot to bring my cam with me. Luckily Tim had his own cam with him and was able to record a small movie of the shark!

But look for yourself:


Oceanic White Tip shark at the Elphinstone reef from Amir on Vimeo.

Two days later we visited Elphinstone a second time by zodiac. This time we brought 15L tanks with us, giving us approximatly 50bar air more. This allowed us to do a 1h 15min dive!

Since we did not find the sharks on the west side of the reef the first time, we decided to jump in at to north tip and do a drift dive on the whole east side of the reef. Having 15L tanks allowed us to dive the whole length of the reef... it's quite long. We even had enough air to let us drift out into the blue for 15 minutes at the end of the reef!

We did not find the sharks at the east side of the reef the second time either, but having enough air with us we just drifted out into the blue staying at 5m while putting up a surface marker buoy to make sure no zodiac drives over our dive site.

It did not take long and the Oceanic White Tips found us!

At first a big one showed up in front of us, quite far away. We saw it for half a minute or so until it disappeared again into the blue. At the same time Michael, one of the divers accompanying us, spotted a second shark behind our back! The second one was a bit smaller and it seemed to us as if the first, big one tried to sidetrack our attention so that the attack of the second one succeeds! The second one came as near as 3m or so and I was able to shoot some very very nice pictures of him!

Here it comes behind our back:

oceanic-white-tip3-clean.jpg       oceanic-white-tip4-clean.jpg

... just turns at our side:

ozeanic-white-tip1-clean.png

... decides that we are no lunch:

ozeanic-white-tip2-clean.png

... and leaves again:

oceanic-white-tip5-clean.jpg

Be sure to notice the Pilot fishes at his side! Both swim behind the fins of the shark! That way they can keep away from its mouth. They do that as soon as they notice that the shark is hungry, to make sure not to become lunch! Furthermore both bust fins are pointed downwards which gives the shark maximum maneuverability when attacking.

Looks like it thought we could be a fine lunch and then decided against it when he was near. We were 5 divers near together so probably we seemed to big to attack to him.

I heard that two weeks ago a girl was not so lucky and an Oceanic White Tip took a bite of her arm while she was trying to get onto the zodiac. That's the most dangerous moment, when the diver is not paying attention and the sharks sees the most perfect prey pattern he's used too: penguins trying to get into an ice floe. But normally nothing happens if the divers are paying attention. One just should keep an eye on them and bang them on the nose if they get uncomfortable near you.

All in all it was a wonderful dive!

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