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Bahamas — Diving the Islands

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Bahamas — Diving the Islands

Thu, 13/10/2011 - 23:36
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The Bahamas are an English speaking island nation known to most of us, but for very diverse reasons. For many living in Florida or nearby, it’s a location for a quick day or weekend break for beach or casino. For Europeans, it’s an offshore financial and investment capital. To many, it’s the location for films and TV programs that feature water and sea, such as the Pirates of The Caribbean, The Spy Who Loved Me, or even the TV series, Flipper, plus many others. For divers, we think of Blue Holes and technical dives or one of the best places to see sharks.

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Are the Bahamas a location worth going to as a visiting recreational diver? From an English diver’s perspective, with the multitude of wreck dives around our UK coast, the Mediterranean a short flight away, the Red Sea easily accessible, YES I still think the Bahamas offer something worth going for. Of course if you are in North America the yes decision should be even easier. They would be a good place to learn to dive with the family yet still offer a lot to experienced divers.

One of the reasons for the increasing use of the Bahamas for filming is of course the good diving conditions, so is that enough to attract sports oriented divers? Without rivers visibility is excellent, water temperatures are tropical or near. The Blue Hole diving rapidly becomes one for technical or even very technical dives with backup teams and lots of equipment, but some of this diving is possible and open for the recreational diver. Shark sighting is easily possible either naturally or on specialist shark dives. Besides these two big attractions are the absolutely stunning great walls, many wrecks, and a big diversity in coral reefs with the worlds third longest barrier reef all giving divers plenty to see. Along with this it’s not overly crowded and can be very personal.

Diving in the Bahamas can of course be done from a variety of liveaboard boats often out of Florida as it’s so close. This gives a good all American experience, easy multiple dives a day and depending on the trip either a single or multiple objectives. It does mean being on a boat most of the time but with some of the large luxury ones it’s not necessarily in cramped quarters. Liveaboard trips also start from Nassau, Grand Bahama and Exumas. I’ve not done this, maybe another trip another time. I do enjoy time for exploring land based opportunities, meeting local people and having the variety that can come from being firmly planted on land even though I wasn’t able to do much of this because of time constraints, but the theory is present.

Types of dives

Sharks always seem high on most diver’s “want to see” list. Some consider the Bahamas as one of the world’s best places to have that introduction or even an extensive exposure. The tourism attraction benefits of sharks mean many operators offer a “shark dive” with sharks being fed. OK, we now have controversy! This is a touchy subject as many believe that divers should never interact or in any way influence any animal on any dive, while others are happy to spearfish or collect shellfish. It’s the “leave only bubbles” debate. There is also the controversy of possibly altering behaviour by associating people with feeding which has produced a ban on shark feeds and even fish feeds in some locations. How much should people “interfere” with natural system? As a diver, environmentalist and photographer I try not to disturb the environment, we are all told / trained not to touch when diving, to leave only bubbles (or spend the money on a rebreather and don’t even do that). Most sharks are not going to be interested in being near divers, they are shy, we are not food, and they are wide ranging, so, worldwide, attracting them into view is done with chumming or feeding of ....

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