Recently I discovered that there is a very cool scuba diving photo and video contest that takes place in Australia every year. Have you heard of it?
It s called the . I was able to get a hold of Tim Hochrebe, the festivals organizer and owner. Tim was able to answer a few questions for us.
What is the underwater festival?
The 2011 Underwater Festival is a Photo and Video Shootout competition held across 10 days in September 2011 simultaneous in the whole of Australasia. Like an Underwater Earth Hour the aim is to capture a snapshot of the region to show the world what we ve got to lose.
There are over $150,000 in prizes (dive trips, dive and camera gear etc) including $10,000 in cash and all you would have to do, is let your club members know about it.
There is no need to spend big bucks on dive trips to remote locations, you can also go diving in your own backyard every dive site in the 25 countries we call Australasia is a shootout location, as long as photos and videos are taken between 2-11 September 2011 they are eligible for entry.
I invite you to have a look at the Underwater Festival website
See for a host of web banners, videos to integrate and I am happy to send you printed flyers you could send out or hand out at your next club meeting (just respond to this email with how many flyers you would like and where to send them)
How did the underwater festival get started? How did it bloom?
It started as a local festival in Byron Bay, Australia, which is the place we live and the HQ of our main business, the website underwater australasia
How can people participate in the underwater festival?
Sign up online at
How many people participated last year?
Last year was another local event with one location only, the remote Christmas Island. We had just over 40 participants.
How many people do you think will participate this year?
The target is a minimum of 1,000 people
Feel free to add some other info!
See info about past events at
See our FAQ at
In early 2012 we had the pleasure of travelling to Bonaire, on a mission to improve our underwater photography and videography skills. While we were out there we also had the opportunity to get to know . We got to play with SeaLife s awesome and cameras. We used them in all sorts of situations: with lights, without lights on the surface and below for both video and photo.
We stayed at which is an amazing dive resort! The staff were incredibly nice and very accommodating. The rooms were very comfortable and had American electrical outlets, which we loved!
Boat Diving during the day was great. We got to explore several different dive sites around Bonaire. My favorite experience for the day diving was checking out the Sea Horses. I had never seen one before and on this trip I got to see many of them! They were also a good size, probably around 5 inches in length! We didn t see a lot of large creatures this time one eagle ray, a few turtles that s about it. The macro life here however, is just amazing!
Hilma Hooker is Bonaire s most popular wreck dive, which is around 230 ft in length and sits around 90ft of water. This dive site is popular and can get very busy. So if you are looking to get a good photo opportunity, it s best to try and be on the first boat of the day. You can talk to your dive guides and see when they think the best time to go out to the dive site would be. I think our boat left at 7:30am so we would be there by 8am and had at least 20 minutes alone with the wreck.
Night Diving was also just as amazing! Our night dives were all shore dives, and we were able to see all sorts of things. My favorite experience at night was the resident octopus. Like most night dives, it was always a great adventure!
Food at the resort was tasty, although we did try and eat at local restaurants as much as we could. My favorite restaurant hands down was !! Their food is beyond amazing! Make sure to make a dinner reservation as they were booked pretty solid around dinner time.
We got to explore much of the island thanks to Bonaire Toursim. We explored the Mangroves in Lac Bay, which I highly recommend. It s a two hour kayak and snorkel tour. You learn about the Mangroves and surrounding ocean life. It was a great break and top side activity to do.
The coolest top side adventure however, was the cave exploring and snorkeling. We didn t really know what we were in for when we were told that we were going to go cave snorkeling . It was quite exciting to drop a rope down into a cave, crawl through it and then snorkel around. Definitely a unique experience and something you might want to check out!
Let us know if you have any questions about Bonaire or SeaLife cameras. We d love to hear from you!
Enjoy the video!!
One of my favourite dive sites on Utila is the Halliburton Wreck and I never grow tired of it. It is a 30m (100ft) long cargo ship that was purposely sunk in May 1998 and lies perfectly upright with the bottom of its hull being at 30m on a sandy bottom. It is just 3 minutes away from Utila Dive Centre in the harbor near the lighthouse and offers us so much rich content for many types of diving.
Since it has been lying in the ocean for 13 years now, it has become a rich ecosystem for coral and marine life. For example, there are huge clams on it and they have been there so long that coral is now growing on them, so as they open and close the coral moves with them, which is a great sight to see. Typically the wheel house section of the wreck is home to 100s of tiny fry and one large dog snapper. There is also one of the most enormous Green Moray that I have ever seen that makes occasional appearances…I have no idea where he hides the rest of the time and as he is so large I am not sure I want to know either! It is also the place I had one of my most memorable diving moments on Utila. I was teaching a lovely couple Advanced Open Water and on our safety stop dolphins started circling us. At the time I was showing them how much a bottle that we had filled with air at depth had expanded on the way up, but soon stopped that and frantically began waving at them to turn around and look behind them. Then not only could I hear the clicks of the dolphins but also the high pitched squeals of the students!
My favourite parts of the dive can actually be the descents and ascents, you leap into crystal clear water and are immediately surrounded by blue water. All you can see at first as you drift down is the bubbles of other divers and it is like you are flying through space, so beautiful and so tranquil. Then Rainbow Runner and Yellow Tailed Snapper fish start circling you and suddenly the ship appears from the water below. On the way up, you drift gently up in a cloud of bubbles and then, glancing down you notice the ship has vanished again. Just imagine the amount of treasures in the ocean that we must swim past and never see….
The wreck is perfect for fun divers with their Advanced certification but it is also a great place to take students for their deep dive for the Advanced course. Everyone falls in love with the wreck and I have often had students come to the surface afterwards and say it was the best moment of their life. That kind of excitement just brings chills to me and is absolutely why I am a dive instructor. It is also fabulous for the Wreck Specialty classes we regularly teach at Utila Dive Centre. There are plenty of places to penetrate the wreck and they are challenging enough to test the students’ new found skills with a reel and torch and modified kick techniques. However they are not so deep or complicated that they overwhelm the student, just enough to give them a sense of achievement and to know they can do it. We also have wreck specialty divers who are also Sidemount divers (more about that in future updates) and that allows them even more freedom to explore the inside spaces of the wreck.
If you come diving to Utila, it is one site definitely recommend you do not miss.