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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Diving conditions in Greece

Greece is one country, with one proud people inhabiting it. Who use one language and share one history. And who in the vast majority always had a special relationship with one element.

The sea.
And somewhere here oneness is lost and gives its place to diversity. 
Diversity. First of all it is not one sea. The Mediterranean, the large ancient sea, is divided by Greece's scattered form of a peninsula surrounded by numerous islands of every possible size. Divided into three large distinct seas, the Aegean, the Ionian and the Libyan. In addition, the extricate pattern of the shoreline forms hundreds of gulfs, bays and coves.
So the underwater conditions are different and localized. Which can also be the case as far as the weather is concerned. Local winds and tidal patterns can vary within a day or mile.
General speaking, the weather in Greece is trustworthy. This means good. You can bet your dime that it will be sunny the next day, almost all year round. Rainfall is low and snow tends to stay in high mountains. Temperatures can fall in the heart of winter down to 2 or even in the minus zone mainly in the mountains. And we have plenty of them. Mainland temperatures keep mild and when spring time comes heavy clothes go!
This makes sure that besides the time from November to mid April, divers will not have to bear nasty wind or cold outside water. It also has an effect on the underwater conditions. Water temperatures vary from 16 to boiling 27 C in recreational depths

Thermoclines are generally lower as spring turns to summer. 5mm wet suits are excessively used compared to others in the warmest half of the year and dry suits are reserved for winter holiday diving. September, the sea is at its warmest, down to 30 meters and more.
Rocky "mountainous" terrain on the Greek land is a reflection of the underwater environment as well. Islands and peninsulas can be viewed alternatively as the peaks of underwater walls and descending dive sites full of rock formations. Of course these come along with crevices, caverns and holes as well as clear water springs that glitter with sealife. It is common for divers accustomed to tropical destinations to express their awe for the impressive rugged massive stones that pop out of nowhere in the middle of sandy beaches and the intimidating rocky walls full of algae and sea weeds.
However, rocky terrain does not fill the subject and any discussion on diving conditions in Greece cannot but contain a reference of corals.

The warm water of the Mediterranean Sea has not been affected by global warming to a degree that endangers coral reefs as much as other tropical habitats. Corals flourish in bays and shores that have been protected from industrial fishing which in Greece has not been developed. They are often spotted competing with the prolific algae for space.

The absence of a major stream in the Mediterranean has two significant consequences for the conditions underwater. First, there are not many or strong currents so drift diving can be limited although coves come in an abundance and cause water movement appropriate for serious fun. The second result is visibility. Less current means less moving nutrients so the water stays clear. You can expect to see clearly in distances of more than 30 meters.
And there is a lot to see. Schools of reef fish swim effortlessly between rocks and precipices which provide protection from predators that raid a site and go on to the next. Pelagic fish are a common attraction and so is a variety of invertebrates. Not to mention that two distinct species of a seal and a sea turtle have chosen these waters as their breeding place.

People have always held Greece connected with ancient history and naval supremacy. And this is true.

 A crossroad of sea travel from the vast Caspian to the Middle East and home to naval battles across the ages, more ships have travelled through Greek seas in the passage of time than anywhere else in the world. And since maritime history has failures among successes, wrecks is an integral part of diving in Greece. 

Boats and ships of all sizes in various depths have already caught the attention of divers and are home to artifacts as diverse as amphora and machine guns! It is like an impromptu archaeological treasure hunting every time you dive and this
makes Greece unique as a diving destination.

Even if wrecks tend to dominate the scene, I would like to close this article with the often overlook able staff. The small stuff. The Aegean and the Ionian Seas have a wonderful collection of nudibranches, crabs, sea horses which can steal the show from the octopi and moray eels.
With their stunning colors and amazing shapes and forms, they remind us of old romantic times when bigger was not always better.  

Written by: Theodoros Valamoutopoulos & Katerina Iliadou
Underwater photography: Yiannis Iliopoulos

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Life out of the blue - Artificial Reef

 After 10years..

In 2005 we constructed an artificial reef in front of our diving center, at 7 meters depth using concrete blocks and stones. Our purpose was to study the growth of underwater life and to provide a more interesting environment for Discover Scuba dives, night dives and courses.. We couldn't imagine that after 10 years this place that we named Magiatika(Greek for greater amberjacks) will become a house for numerous species of marine life. Jacks like Trachinotus ovatus and coastal fishes are visiting almost every day, breams, and various sea basses, flat fishes, wrasses and reef fishes can be spotted all day long. Scorpion fishes are a frequent attraction like Largesclaled scorpionfish Scorpaena scrofa and a Small red scorpionfish Scopraena notata. We have seen also small rays especially Dayatis pastinaca. In 2013 brought along moray eels too,specifically a young mediterranean moray that stayed all summer in the Park.
  Crabs are walking on the stones, Gastropoda, bivalves and Cephalopoda are increasing in number almost all of the built blocks are occupied by octopuses, of the common Octapus vulgaris and the white spotted kind Octopus macropus. Although they usually
keep in their holes, observing passers by, sometimes they are playing
with the divers by extending their legs. We don't disturb them but since we see them daily, a simple hello is enough.Expect to see
Octapus macropus
cucumbers, urchins, worms, anemones, growing Bryozoa, flower corals, tunicates and even sponges! Sponges like aphysina aerophoba, Scalarispongia scalaris, irsinia oros, hamigera hamigera, ircinia fasciculata e.t.c are growing very slow and they attracted  in 2013, sea slugs adults and newborns!! Giant Doris, Hypselodoris picta, Hervia , Flabellina Affinis, Cratena peregrina, Thuridilla hopei, Hypselodoris orsinii, Tylodina Perversa,
European eel
all of them inhabited the house reef.  During a night dive we are happy to see also european eels and shrimps like stenopus spinosus, sepia officinalis and Loligo vulgaris.We are trying to preserve the natural habitat by not intervening or keeping species passing by that's why we don't feed them. We only protect the place, especially from ourselves, by not touching or bumping on the blocks. Magiatika dive site has become a unique spot for relax dives, macro underwater photography, DSDs and  night dives!!

Underwaterphotography:Yiannis Iliopoulos, Androniki Iliadou written by: Androniki&Katerina Iliadou
All images are from the artificial Reef "Magiatika"

A perfect camouflaged small Ray!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hollis Explorer Rebreather Presentation

Hollis Explorer

Is the future there?


Yesterday we witnessed a glimpse of the future of recreational scuba diving. Representatives of Hollis including engineer and technician Stelios Papazoglou, Diving Instructor Rebreather Trainer Giorgos Vandoros and Tzanoudakis Company invited us along with most members of the professional diving community of Northern Greece to present a new rebreather, the Hollis Explorer Semiclosed Rebreather. The history of Rebreathers, of Hollis and meticulous description of the specifications of the apparatus comprised the presentations and a display of the assembly and disassembly of the device was the cherry on top of the cake.
This new piece of equipment combines the electronic control systems of closed circuit Rebreathers with the risk free single gas configuration of semi closed Rebreathers and open circuit diving. State of the art electronics eliminate the usual rebreather risks and take the load of continuous measurements off the diver who can just enjoy the extended bottom time.

I can well imagine myself preparing this sports car-like designed device and diving 2 full hours, exploring every detail of dive sites I needed 2 or 3 dives to see. And all this with a 5 liter Nitrox bottle which turns into an open circuit bailout with a simple switch and no extra second stage. The 3 oxygen sensors make sure I get the oxygen I need. On top of this, the monitoring digital interface looks better than a fighter aircraft display! The designer had built the amazing VR3 computer and integrated the technology in the colour display. Even the 5 minute per dive check is fun, reminding you of the adventure diving is. On the downside it costs more than the usual scuba gear to buy and to service.

May be it is time to open our minds and trust new developments in technology. Safety, comfort, better interaction with marine life( no bubbles ) and all this in a science fiction design. Phones, computing, cars, even reading is digital nowadays. Can diving evolve as well? It looks this way.

Visit Hollis Website

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sea Slug Pleurobranchus Testudinarious from Halkidiki Greece

                   Pleurobranchus Testudinarious

 A rather large sea slug, also called turtle snail, 20cm average, carnivorous mollusk almost always found  between 8 to 25 meters deep. It has been so far recorded all over the mediterranean sea, in France, Turkey and Italy etc.We have been seeing Pleurobranchus Testudinarius since 2011 from middle of June till the end of July, usually in the West part of Ammouliani Halkidiki, in the grass or crawling
on the rocks. When we notice one sea slug, somewhere around there is also usually a second.. Named for its shield-like polygonal formations on its back, (which look like the Roman legions' battle formations covered with shields) it has beautiful colour variations (yellow, red, brown) and characteristic   tubercles. Underwater photos by Yiannis Iliopoulos. 
For more information visit: The sea slug Forum

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ammouliani Island Halkidiki Greece

                           Dive Sites in Amouliani Island

The island of Amouliani  has more than 15 diving spots, access by boat, in perfect sea conditions independent of weather, due to their geographic location. Access is very easy Depths shift gradually from 4 meters  up to 65 meters, while visibility is exceptional and water temperatures vary from 16 to 28 degrees Celsius depending on the time of year.

View details about Dive Sites in Ammouliani 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Scuba Diving for children

Diving for children in Halkidiki Greece

Get your whole family involved in scuba diving by sharing an extraordinary experience together and take your vacations to new depths!

 PADI Bubblemakers

Jump into the PADI Bubblemaker Program Today!!!
This is a great, safe and fun way for children to experience scuba diving!!

Explore Scuba Diving in Halkidiki Greece

Discover the underwater world in Halkidiki Greece

More than 12 dive sites in Athos Peninsula

Diving in Halkidiki an amazing experience!!

The peninsula of Halkidiki creates amazing underwater slopes with crests and crevices filled with marine life of sizes and colors unique to this small corner. Currents are mild or non existent so prepare for relaxed dives any time of the day with visibility exceeding 30 meters!
Watching colorful rocks full of flower corals, tube, branching and massive sponges, sea slugs, mediterranean fish passing in front of our eyes.. Jacks,  sea breams, sea basses, wrasses, reef fish, scorpions e.t.c all live or pass on their way hunting!! Snake like bodies, mediterranean morays, european congers relax in the day time in their houses, watch us passing by, and let us admire of their natural beauty!!!