February 26, 2012

Wreck treks: Sweet wreck

I like these wrecks where I don't need to care too much about my air consumption or bottom time. The so-called "Sweet wreck" lies in the shallows of the Croatian Adriatic, close to the picturesque town of Rogoznica. The local dive center's instructor simply call it "small wreck", so I had to look for information in the internet. For my surprise a website says it was a 2nd world war Romanian cargo ship and it sank with full of chocolate. This is the meaning of "Sweet" wreck nickname.

The dive is quite easy. The dive boats anchor near Smokvica island. We use to start diving in the shallow, and in 3-4 minutes we reach the largest intact part, the stern with the wheel. The depth is only 20-23 meters, it's easy to swim around the small hull, look into the holes, look for crabs or another fish. The current is rarely strong, the visibility is not bad, so even a beginner would enjoy diving this wreck.

When we spent enough time with the stern, we head back to the shallow to see the deck: it separated after the explosion and lies a few meters away. Under the huge steel plates there are hiding animals like scorpionfish. During the safety stop I like to look for octopus on the rocky bottom and usually I find some of these cute animals. One of my favorite spots in the Razanj area- I always like to dive this wreck when I travel here.

February 21, 2012

Life and death of sharks

I recently saw a video. It was taken in a Chinese aquarium where a nurse shark baby was born. It's really cute- hopefully someday I'll see a nurse shark in real life. Usually the divers see them in the Caribbean where I haven't been yet.

Let me recommend another interesting article about sharks: two marine biologists took photo of a wobbegong shark which ate a bamboo shark. I think it was a really extraordinary moment to see as a shark killed a smaller shark.

The last story is about death sharks as well but it's much more sad. Thousands of divers arrives to Bali island in Indonesia to see the wonders of the sea. Most of them are keen to see sharks as well. But it seems the sharks is more important for the fisherman than the divers so they catch dozens of  thresher sharks every day. They sell their fins in the Chinese markets- to kill a wonderful predator for a few plates of shark fin soup, it's so horrible...

February 6, 2012

Our underwater photo-video contest

The first Picture of the Month contest was held in 2007. Since then divecenter.hu organized dozens of monthy underwater photo competitions and two years later we invited videographers to participate in the video snapshot contest.

The Picture of the Month has different subjects every month and the registered users' votes decide who wins. We're really proud because this is the only regular underwater photo contest in Hungary and nearly every recognized Hungarian photographers sent images. Certainly there are amateurs with small compact cameras who always send photos to us, some of them asked advices and tried to better and better photos- the result was awards even in international contests. This is the slideshow of the 2011 contests' best images:

The video snapshot is a special category: it means10-35 seconds long videos which contain maximum 4 cuts or transitions. A good shot is just enough to win a monthly contest. In 2011 there were many really nice and entertaining mini dive movies: here is the video channel.

In 2012 we decided to invite more foreign photographers to our photo and video snapshot competitions. We chose a new name: Subsurface Photo and Video Snapshot of the month contest. We translated the competition section of our website, and the new members can do the registration in English. Only registered members can participate but the registration is absolutely free and we do not collect email addresses to send newsletters. It's only about the photo contest, you can submit photos or video snapshots and vote on them. We encourage everybody to come, visit our contest's page and join the fun!

February 5, 2012

Cool ice

Probably the ice diving is the craziest kind of diving. First of all, everybody hates cold water and it's definitely cold when it's frozen. And not only the water is cold but the air as well. Another problem is the planning of the dive: because it's not an open water dive, quite dangerous, so you need safety line and surface support.

In Hungary there are ice dives in every winter. Some organizers use to invited me and two years ago I decided to try this. I felt this is a challenge I need to face. I packed my thick neoprene drysuit, some undersuit, two cold water regulators and the ordinary stuff like mask and fins. Dressing was comfortable in a heated room but the too much undersuit made my moves funny. After I took on my BCD with the tank I wasn't able to walk normally. The ice was slippery, I needed a hand.

While I was sitting with my legs in the lake I thought I was insane. "Why do I this?" But I didn't have the chance to give up, they tightened the rope and I descended with my buddy. Under the ice the visibility of the usually murky lakes get better. We saw a bit more of the underwater scene, later we touched the bottom of the ice but after 25 minutes even in drysuit I felt the cold. My face where it wasn't covered by the mask seemed frozen. But anyway, we survived. Somebody pulled me out of the water and somehow I walked to the heated place again. I did it. I had my first ever ice diving experience!

And when I took off my diving suit I said to myself: "...and the last one!" But two years gone since so I think a diver should "never say never again".