Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text:
Looking for the big blue? Let's go to the water! I take you to the Red Sea to dive, snorkel and take underwater pictures...
Oops, I did it again
A year ago, I had accumulated some unusual experiences in the space of a week: I had not only met a mermaid, but also photographed sharks and explored wrecks too... It was in October 2016, in the Egyptian waters of the Red Sea, thanks to a special "three-in-one" diving cruise. The concept: to embark at the same time scuba divers, freedivers and underwater photographers.
I liked it so much that I did it again this year... 😊 Oops, as Britney Spears said.
So in this month of November 2017, I took off for Egypt and embarked on a new "dive-apnea-photo" cruise in the Red Sea.
It was organized by the same people as last year: the Greek-Swiss underwater photographer Phil Simhathe French freediving champion Rémy Dubern and the French-Egyptian team of l'Exocet. This time the route was not to the north (Ras Mohammed, Brothers), but to the south (St. John's Reefs)…
On the program: a week of great blue and sunshine (oh joy, just before we really enter the grey Breton winter 😎). Water at 27-28°C, with a dizzying transparency. And then, above all, the happiness and wonder under the surface. Of all the spectacles offered by nature, coral reefs are really the ones that fascinate me the most...
Scuba Diving, Freediving, Underwater Photography in the Red Sea
Those who don't dive don't realize it, but bringing together scuba divers, freedivers and underwater photographers on the same boat is not necessarily easy... With or without bubbles, once released in the water, these three "populations" of webbed humans don't have exactly the same habits.
Exploration enthusiasts sometimes curse the slowness of image hunters who hate to swim fast underwater. The photographers, on the other hand, grumble after those who appear unfortunate in the frame or who scare the fish. As for the freedivers, adepts of aquatic simplicity, they contemplate with an often snide eye the cumbersome paraphernalia of the "bubblers"... 😁
This clash of underwater cultures sometimes gives rise to funny scenes. I let you admire below the ease of Remy (yes, as I mentioned above, this boy is a champion of apnea), when it is about teasing, in selfie mode, with the GoPro, those who carry their air reserve on their back instead of being satisfied with their lungs:
During this cruise in Egypt in November 2017, I will finally dedicate only one morning to snorkeling and all the other days of the week to underwater photography! Yes, each time, I hesitate a little, and then each time I choose to dive in a tank... The fault of Jen and Julien, our two guides, who each morning give us a tantalizing briefing of the first site of the day.
As a result, the desire to photograph is the strongest: instead of chaining short dives on a single breath, I prefer to be able to spend an hour under the surface, in order to quietly explore the reef and take pictures! My partner François, less addicted to photography, regularly alternates the two: freediving in the morning, diving in the afternoon.
On the left: a tortoise has climbed up to meet the freedivers, to breathe on the surface. Right: Audrey goes down in apnea to say hello... (Red Sea, Egypt, November 2017)
There is one thing to know about this type of mixed cruise where you can do up to three or even four dives per day: if you choose to start the day with a scuba dive, it will not be possible to snorkel afterwards. That's right! If it is possible to do freediving BEFORE a scuba dive, the opposite is not true.
To be able to practice both in the same day, it is therefore necessary to opt for freediving first. A question of safety.
Why you should not freedive after a bottle dive. I summarize by simplifying: when diving, underwater, we breathe compressed air (air is about 79% of nitrogen and 21% of oxygen). But the more the water pressure increases, the more the breathed nitrogen dissolves in the body and accumulates (this is saturation). We learn, during scuba diving training, that if the pressure suddenly decreases (ascending too fast), the dissolved nitrogen becomes gaseous again and then risks forming dangerous bubbles in the body tissues... 😱 We also learn that it is eliminated only very slowly, by breathing (that's why divers make underwater stops when ascending and also surface intervals, to "desaturate" a little, simply by breathing, for a given time). To make apneas afterwards, even at a shallow depth, would mean to link sudden pressure variations, while holding one's breath... This would favor the accumulation of micro-bubbles and their anarchic degassing in the body, which provoke the diseases and accidents known as "decompression" or "desaturation".…
All the interest of this thematic "three-in-one" cruise, besides the pleasure of getting into the water (with or without tank, with or without camera), are the workshops and mini-trainings that Rémy and Phil offer us every day. Initiation to relaxation techniques to improve your apnea, yoga and stretching sessions, courses on photo composition and underwater photography, discussions on how to approach sharks or marine mammals while respecting the animals, etc.
Between meals and dives, before the evening aperitif or during the navigation periods, they share with us their knowledge, their experience and give valuable advice, which we can put into practice the same day. 👌
It's exciting and enriching. It creates a nice atmosphere, a climate of benevolence and listening that is really pleasant, whatever the level of each one. These exchanges also allow us to get to know each other better and to create new affinities with the other divers during the week.
I don't know yet if there will be a third edition next year [EDIT: Phil, Remy and Audrey just confirmed to me that they are indeed planning something for 2018]. But during this second "dive-apnea-photo" expedition in the Red Sea, I am not the only "repeat offender" on board. Several divers, present on the 2016 cruise, came back, too!
I just want to do it again. Who knows, one day I might even succeed in snorkeling photography... But in the next post, I'll tell you why, on one particular site, I was very happy I chose the bubbler camp! 😉 🦈