Monthly Archives: April 2017

Curious Facts About Crinoids

Recently we’ve shared a few videos of Crinoids floating freely through the ocean. They’re mesmerising to watch, and the videos we shared had you asking some questions about these curious creatures, so here are some interesting facts about Crinoids.

They’re not starfish

They are however, related to both starfish and echinoids. Like starfish, Crinoids usually have 5 fold symmetry.

They’re not plants

Despite their resemblance to flowers, are not plants. They are echinoderms – animals characterised by their rough, spiny surface and 5 fold symmetry.

You’re more likely to find a crinoid fossil than you are living crinoid

Crinoids today are relatively rare however they were once plentiful and diverse.

Crinoids fossil

Crinoids are old… really really old

Crinoids have been around since the Ordovician period – 490 million years ago! Palaeontologists however, think they could be even older than that.

Feather Stars versus Sea Lilies

There are around 700 living species of crinoids known to us. Generally, they’re found in two forms. Those that have a ‘stem’ and those that lose their stem as they mature. Crinoids that have a ‘stem,’ are often referred to as Sea Lillies because of their resemblance to the flower. Often their stem can anchor them to the ocean floor. Those without a stalk – Feather Stars, float freely through the ocean

They eat with their hands

Well, kind of. A Crinoid’s feather-like arms are covered with a sticky mucus which traps food that happens to float past. Then, the tiny tube feet that cover the arms, pass the food particles to the centre of the arm where it is transported to their mouth.

Crinoids

They know no bounds

Crinoids are commonly found in water deeper than 200 metres, but sometimes the variety without stalks will be seen in much shallower water.

Want to see these guys in real life? Your best chance is to start diving today and you may just get lucky enough to spot one.

Malta; Through the Azure Window

One week ago the iconic Azure Window, also known as the Dwejra Window, collapsed in Malta. Having stood in Dwejra Bay for 500 years, since two sea caves eroded to meet, this natural wonder had welcomed countless visitors throughout the years; a gateway to Malta’s unique, and vibrant scenery.

Famous for appearing in the 1981 film Clash of the Titans and, more recently, the first episode of Game of Thrones it was one of Malta’s top tourist destinations and many people took to social media to share their sadness and stories about this fabled landmark.

Losing the Azure Window is hard…

So we thought to brighten everyone’s day we’d take a closer look at what else the Maltase Islands can offer us…

Warm Water Year-Round

Sitting just to the West of the Mediterranean’s heart Malta is one of the few European dive areas that has warm water year round. The water temperature is a lovely 15-17°C/58-63°F from December through April and 18-25°C/65-77°F from May through November. Overwater the climate is considered the best in the world, with a hot, dry summer and short, cool winters.  Air temperatures average between 10-15°C/50-59°F in January and 21-30°C/70-83°F in July.

50+ Dive Sites

If the year round warm water isn’t enough for you, then perhaps the 50+ dive sites would be. Ranging from sheltered bays to advanced deep dives there’s something for everyone and every level of diving. There are also 25+ wreck dives to explore; from WWII wrecks full of history, to recently sunk artificial reefs.

Aquatic Life

There is plenty of wildlife to see at the numerous Maltese dive sites. Expect to see barracuda, some of the Mediterranean’s bigger groupers, stingrays, cardinal fish and parrotfish. The limestone caves and craggy nooks are also ideal living quarters for moray eels, octopus, squid, and conger eels. Summertime is seahorse time in Malta, but these beautiful critters are small and masters of camouflage, so challenge your dive guide to find some.

For more information on Iconic Marine Life and top dives in Malta click here.

Other Interests

Gozo is believed to be the island on which the nymph Calypso held Osysseus captive in Homer’s Odyssey. It is also home to the world’s oldest freestanding structures including the Ġgantija temples and is known for its ‘Karnivals’ which are celebrated throughout the summer.

To find out more about diving in Malta visit our Scuba Vacations page here.

7 Facts About Plastic Bags that Will Change How You Use Them

There’s no denying that plastic bags are bad for the environment. It’s well researched and well documented – and yet 160,000 plastic bags are still used every second around the world. This needs to change, so we’ve put together some facts that will change the way you (and your friends) use plastic bags (and hopefully stop you using them all together).

Every second, 160,000 plastic bags are used around the world.

Ok, I know we covered this in the introduction, but think about just how big that number is. That’s every single second. All together, it adds up to a trillion plastic bags being used every year.

The amount of petroleum it takes to produce on plastic bag could drive a car 11 metres (36 ft).

It might not seem far, but it sure adds up quickly. The amount of petroleum it takes to produce ten plastic bags could drive a car the length of a football field – see what I mean, it adds up quickly. Factor in the point about and we’re talking about some pretty huge distances.

A plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes.

Twelve minutes. There’s not much else to say about this point. After it’s 12 minutes of use, it’s generally discarded. In fact, less than 3% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide. Once discarded, plastic bags will remain in the environment for 1,000 years before they decompose!

267 different species of animals have been affected by marine debris.

We know this isn’t specifically about plastic bags, but 90% of marine debris is one kind of plastic or another. If you haven’t watched the video below by National Geographic about what it feels like to be trapped in a plastic bag, take a look now.

Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most found in coastal clean-ups.

According to the non-profit, Center for Marine Conservation, plastic bags are so commonly found during coastal clean-ups that they are among the 12 most found items of debris. All the more reason to reduce our use of them.

If we joined all the plastic bags in the world together, they would circumnavigate the globe 4,200 times.

That’s right, not once or twice but 4,200 times!

If just one person used recycled plastic bags over their lifetime, they would be removing 22,000 plastic bags from the environment.

That one person could be you. And if you share this information with your friends, we could see a huge reduction in the amount of plastic bags discarded in the environment.

Malaysia

Multi-talented Malaysia

Malaysia

Imagine crystal clear waters surrounding beautiful islands with pure, white beaches. Imagine palm trees swaying in balmy, tropical breezes, all set against a backdrop of lush, green rainforest – this is Malaysia. For scuba divers, Malaysia’s biodiversity is nothing short of stunning. The country is divided into two parts – Peninsular Malaysia, which shares a border with the southern end of Thailand, and Malaysian Borneo, which encompasses the northern quarter of the world’s third-largest island. The dive opportunities here are rivaled only by the nation’s cultural diversity.

Around the hundreds of tropical islands are an incredible choice of dive sites and undiscovered beaches. You can pick from a variety of underwater landscapes including sloping reefs, pinnacles and coral gardens for your deep, drift, wreck, cavern and wall dives. World-renowned wall diving, featuring more than 3000 species of marine creatures, and some of the best macro diving sites in the world are found here. From Peninsular Malaysia, you can get to the Perhentian Islands with towering pinnacles, and Redang Island with some of the world’s most developed coral gardens. Tioman Island, off of the peninsula’s east coast, has amazing coral formations and deep water nearby that is home to many wrecks for technical divers.

Great Dives

  • Pulau Sibuan, Semporna – One of a few islands and reefs in daytrip range of Semporna, Pulau Sibuan is inhabited only by a few nomadic, seafaring Bajau families. The outstanding muck diving here is sometimes overlooked as divers rush to places with well-known names. But Pulau Sibuan, which lies within the Semporna Marine Park, is a top location to spot mandarin fish, nudibranchs and a plethora of their neighbors.
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu – Macro life is the main draw for divers here, but reef sharks, turtles and rays await those who look up and around occasionally. The apex of the dive season is during March and April when whale sharks vie for attention.
  • Atago Maru Wreck, Miri – This 105-metre/345-foot second world war Japanese merchant ship lies upright and her superstructure is a mere 10 metres/33 feet from the surface. Her coral-encrusted hull has become home to moray eels and predatory trevally, jack and barracuda prowl in her vicinity.
  • Tiger Reef, Tioman – This submersed pinnacle with an average depth of 15 metres/50 feet has beautiful coral formations, crinoids, sea whips and sea fans. Strong currents bring in large schools of jack, mackerel, barracuda and rainbow runner on almost every dive. Zoom in and out of the canyons checking out the reef fish, stingrays, moray eels and lionfish.
  • Sugar Wreck, Perhentian Islands – This large sugar hauler sank during a monsoon in 2000 and now lies on its side in 30 metres/100 feet of water. Quickly being overtaken by coral and marine life, it’s now home to reef fish, barracuda and bamboo sharks that hide in the wreck. Big schools of snapper, jack and trevally circle the hull.
  • WW II Wrecks, Kuching – Several wrecks lie just off the coast of Kuching. Dutch submarines sank these Japanese ships including the Katori Maru, which is well broken up and the intact Hiyoshi Maru. Both wrecks lie about 20 metres/65 feet from the surface and are havens for marine life such as barracuda, batfish and snapper.
  • Pulau Lima, Redang – This submerged seamount off Pulau Lima has amazing boulder formations that drop down to around 30 metres/100 feet. The current here sometimes brings in large pelagics, such as manta rays and whales. Look for tuna, barracudas, groupers and black-tip sharks. Hard and soft corals, gorgonians, sea anemones and whip coral gardens abound.
  • Pulau Saga, Lumut – Within a few hours drive of Kuala Lumpur, there’s some diving with excellent macro life at Pulau Saga. Here, divers find nudibranchs, seahorses and anemones hosting clownfish in the shallows. Triggerfish and blue-spotted rays cruise the reef edges and myriad reef fish such as fusiliers, boxfish and Moorish idols populate these sheltered waters.

Want to know more? Visit ScubaEarth® for further information on thousands of dive sites, marine species, destination essentials and more.

Dive Summary

Visibility – Depending on the area and time of year, visibility ranges from 10-40 metres/30-130 feet.

Water Temperature – Being close to the equator, you can count on water temperatures from 26-30º C/80-85º F year-round.

Weather – The weather throughout Malaysia is tropical with air temperatures range from 21-32º C/70-90º F. The wet season runs from November to March, which can affect dive conditions, but diving is available all year.

Featured Creatures – You’ll see turtles and more turtles just about everywhere. Reef sharks, schooling barracuda, trevallies, bumphead parrotfish, Napoleon wrasse, rainbow runners, emperors, groupers, batfish, mackerel, stingrays, boxfish, lionfish, garden eels and moray eels are all likely to be seen. Common sightings also include angelfish, butterfly fish, snapper, triggerfish, puffer fish, shrimp, nudibranchs, blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus, mandarin fish and seahorses.

Recommended Courses – Take the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy and PADI Deep Diver courses to help you hover effortlessly along Sipadan’s walls. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course is a must to capture the beauty of the place. Malaysia is becoming a technical diving destination, so look into PADI TecRec courses, including the PADI Rebreather Diver course, if interested. You can also become a PADI Professional by taking your PADI Divemaster course, Assistant Instructor course or Open Water Scuba Instructor program in beautiful Malaysia.

Travel Info

Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

Language – Bahasa Malaysia is the national language but English is also widely spoken. Various Chinese dialects and Hindi are also common.

Currency – Malaysian Ringgit. Credit cards are accepted in cities and many larger hotels, restaurants and shops.

Major Airports – There are international airports at Penang (Penang International Airport), Johor Bahru (Senai International Airport), Kota Kinabalu (Kota Kinabalu International Airport), Kuching (Kuching International Airport) and Langkawi (Langkawi International Airport).

Electricity and Internet – 240 volts, 50 Hz. Internet is available in cities and most resort areas.

Topside Attractions – Visit the world’s tallest towers in Kuala Lumpur, go to Sabah’s state parks and climb Mount Kinabalu, see Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary near Sandakan, go caving in Gunung Mulu National Park, experience ancient cultures in jungle villages, tour the many monkey ridden temples around the country or explore the jungles of Borneo.

Information links:
tourism.gov.my
geographia.com/malaysia

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