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Mafia Island

   Tanzania  Indian Ocean
Mafia Island and its reefs are renown as an excellent, World-class diving destination. Mafia has some of the richest reefs in the World, with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals and diversity of tropical fish. The Island lies close to the Rufiji Delta, just a short aircraft flight from Dar es Salaam, the Selous Game Reserve or Zanzibar. The island was a regular stop for two thousand years for Arab and Persian dhows plying the coastal waters from the Gulf to Madagascar and Mozambique. Chole Bay, Mafia's protected deep-water anchorage and the original harbour, is studded with islands, sandbanks and beaches. The clear, protected waters offer wonderful snorkelling, sailing and swimming. Outside the Bay unbroken reef runs the length of the island, from Tutia in the south to Ras Mkumbi at the northern tip.
Mafia Island is set in a Marine Park situated about 130 km south of Dar es-Salaam and about 25 km from the mainland. It is part of an archipelago formed of a number of very large islands and small uninhabited coral atolls . Due to its position alongside the barrier, the island is the meeting place of large oceanic fish and the the vast variety of fish common to the Indian Ocean coral reefs. There are over 400 species of fish in the park. The Park is a paradise for both expert scuba divers as well as those wishing to snorkel or sail in the native local boats from island to island.


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Pemba Island

   Tanzania  Indian Ocean
Pemba Island is located 40km north of Zanzibar and is about 70km long. The island is surrounded by beautiful beaches, islands, and pristine offshore coral reefs. The drop off into the Pemba channel is 600 meters deep, and it offers scores of world class diving sites where mantas, hammerhead sharks, groupers and dolphin abound. The island is famous for it's clove production and this is the mainstay of Pemba's economy. Tourism is still in its infancy but several areas are now being developed to take advantage of the amazing world class dive sites of the Pemba Channel.
If you are short of time and have to select the best sites then an itinerary which includes Manta Point, Mesali Island and the Emerald Reef at Panza Point should satisfy even the most experienced and demanding diver. Pemba is best suited to the experienced diver due to strong currents and great depths. There are some sites suited to the less experienced diver but conditions should always be checked first. Drift dives are the most common due to the currents and it is advisable to carry a surface marker buoy.
To get to Pemba there are flights from Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam and a ferry service two days weekly between Zanzibar'sStone Town and Pemba.


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Broken Rock

   Maldives  Indian Ocean
Broken Rock lies in the southernmost corner of the Ari Atoll, on the eastern side. The closest islands are Dhangethi to the north and Dhigurah to the south. The thila, which seems to have been cleft asunder by a blow from a giant axe, is some 70 metres (230 feet) in length, and rises to a depth of some 13 metres (43 feet) beneath the surface. The remarkable aspect of this coral base is the enormous canyon that runs diagonally across the centre, from southeast to northwest. With a depth of 22 metres (72 feet), this cleft was the source of the name, Broken Rock. On the eastern side is a jutting formation with a remarkable shape, and another small plateau, at a depth of 17 metres.
Apart from the considerable depth of the reef top, diving in this site is fairly easy. There are several decisive factors in any decision regarding the techniques to be used on this dive: the currents, which can be very strong at times, but also the level of experience of the participating divers. With weak currents, one can dive directly on to the top of the reef. The most elegant technique, which is also the simplest in the presence of powerful currents, is to dive at some distance from the reef, in the open ocean, and then to swim in the reef with the current. It is also possible to moor the boat on the reef itself, if it becomes necessary to enter and emerge from the water by means of a line.
The dive site has a great many soft corals and by a teeming and varied abundance of fish.
There is always the possibility of running into a gray reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) or two, or a school of barracuda (Sphyraena sp.). A mixed group of batfish (Platax teira) and blue fusiliers (Caesio lunaris) are usually guests at Broken Rock, as are the many sea turtles (Eretmochelys inbricata). The jutting crags on the northeastern side are populated by a great many tiny animals.

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Guraidhoo Corner

   Maldives  Indian Ocean
This site lies on the east side of the South Male’ Atoll, outside of the reef at the south side of the channel mouth. Nearby islands are Losfushi, Guraidhoo and Kandooma. The reef top drops from ten meters (33 feet) to 30 meters (100 feet) and more; there are grottoes and projections just about everywhere. The edges of the channel drop down to a depth of 30 meters (100 feet). Large isolated coral blocks grow, from the scarp of the reef upward.
Guraidhoo Corner is a drift dive. It is therefore necessary to be quite an experienced diver on the reef; all the more so because there are powerful vertical currents all around the site at certain hours of the day. The direction of the principal horizontal current is towards the interior of the atoll. At the edge of the channel, which is also the deepest point, one comes drifting along the reef. The dive comes to an end along the wall of the channel or at the edge of the reef.
Because of its location outside of the reef, and because of the water movements and the topography, this place is destined to be the home of larger fish.
On the edges of the channel, which is to say, at depths ranging from 25 to 30 meters (80 to 100 feet), the best chances are that one will be able to observe a great many gray reef sharks (Carcharthinus amblyrhynochos) and the local school of eagle rays (Aetobatus narinari). The latter tend to swim in the open ocean, at a considerable distance from the seabed. In this same spot large hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini), whale sharks (Rincodon typus) and sailfish (istiophorus platypterus) have been sighted frequently. Guraidhoo corner is also home to large schools of oriental sweetlips (Plectorhyncus orientalis), bannerfish (Heniochus diphreutes), and large black-and-white striped snappers (Macolor niger). And of course the large and friendly humphead wrasses (Cheilinus undulatus) are ever present.

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The Victory Wreck

   Maldives  Indian Ocean
The wreck of the Maldives Victory lies on the western side of the airport-island, Hulule, precisely near the first quarter of the southern side of the landing strip. The wreck lies parallel to the reef on the sandy sea bed at a depth of 35 metres (115 feet), upright and with the bowsprit pointing north.
In the early morning hours of Friday, 13 February 1981, this 35,000-ton freighter ran at full speed onto the southern tip of the airport island. Since it had not been built with watertight bulkheads, the ship sank in the space of about an hour even though the hole was fairly small. The sailors and the few passengers aboard managed to make their way to the landing strip, only about thirty metres (a hundred feet) away; all were rescued, and none were even injured. The freighter was only ten years old, and hailed from Singapore; the holds were full of merchandise, chiefly for the tourist facilities.
Even just a few hours after the Maldive Victory sank, a great number of fish had begun to establish residence in and about the ship. For more than a decade now, the superstructures have been patrolled by a large school of batfish (Platax teira), while a number of barracuda (Sphyraena sp.) hover above the deck; those who swim around the wreck are provided with an escort of humphead wrasses (Cheilinus undulatus). Large schools of fusiliers (Caesio sp.) dart through the water, as a foreshadowing of the fact that in the pipes, passageways, nooks and crannies of this ship, one will encounter all of the animal species that can normally be found on reefs, and in grottoes and underwater caverns. During a number of dives, one will encounter a large sea turtle sleeping at the tip of the bowsprit of the Maldive Victory.


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North & South Ari Atoll (Alifu Atoll)

   Maldives  Indian Ocean

Alifu Atoll is comprised of three geographical atolls –




  • Ari Atoll : one of the largest atolls in the Maldives, measuring 80
    kilometres in length and 30 in width


  • Rasdhoo : Atoll also boasts some exceptionally exciting dive sites
    such as the hammerhead point


  • Thoddoo : Atoll.


If you visit a resort in Ari, you will be surprised to learn that this is one
of the most highly developed tourist areas in the Maldives. However, they are
all protected dive sites and famous for sighting of whale sharks.




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North and South Male' Atoll (Kaafu Atoll)

   Maldives  Indian Ocean
Kaafu Atoll consists of four
geographical atolls; North and South Male’ Atoll, Gaafaru and Kaashidhoo
Atolls
. This collection of smaller atolls is located almost in the center of
the Maldives atoll chain. With 80 islands in all, only 12 are inhabited. Kaafu
Atoll is dotted with dive sites, many of them well known in the diving
community. Manta sightings, interesting reef formations, coral gardens and
wrecks are all part of the diving experience in these atolls. The wreck of
the Maldives Victory
, which sank on Friday the 13th 1981 near the airport
island of Hulule, is now an exciting diving attraction.

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Vaavu Atoll (Felidhoo Atoll)

   Maldives  Indian Ocean
Vaavu Atoll is comprised of two
geographical atolls; the main Vaavu Atoll and the adjacent large circular
atoll, Vattaru, which is 9 kilometres in diameter with just one uninhabited
island. Vaavu Atoll is a true geographical wonder. It is a boot-shaped
atoll and the ‘toe’, Fotteyo Muli is the easternmost point of the
Maldives archipelago. In addition to this, the 55 kilometres long unbroken reef
that stretches from the ‘toe’ to the ‘heel’ of the ‘boot’ is the
longest reef in the Maldives. Vaavu atoll has been exposed to tourism since 1975
and the atoll has been a great favourite with safari and cruise operators.
However it is more isolated and less commercialised than any of the other
tourist atolls. Vaavu Atoll hosts some of the best diving in the
Maldives. Fotteyo Kandu is considered by many as the best dive site in
the country and one of the top five in the world. The reefs of the eastern side
of the atoll are in pristine condition and are wonderful for divers and
snorkellers alike. There are many thrilling shark dives in the atoll, where
divers may be lucky enough to see hammerhead sharks as well as the more common
gray reef sharks.

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Ponta Do Ouro

   Mozambique  Indian Ocean
In Southern Mozambique whalesharks gather (especially from October through to March). The biggest tagging programme operates here and they have the most sightings worldwide. Sharks, dolphins, rays and huge bass are common. The sea is warmer here and visibility increases to 20-30m.
  • Bass City: One of the best known of Ponto’s dive sites. A series of seven rocky outcrops which are home to 4-6 large territorial potato bass, including Bert, the divers friend, as well as octopus, moray eels and large numbers of lion fish. Electric blue juvenile emperor angelfish are regularly spotted, as well as huge brown stingrays.
  • Aquarium: This is a large, hollow coral bommie surrounded by small rocky outcrops that houses delicate black corals inside the cavity. Outside it teems with colourful reef fish. It is also home to territorial white & purple leaf fish that cling onto the rocks with their pectoral fins.



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Two mile reefs

   South Africa  Indian Ocean
  • Sodwana: The world’s southernmost coral reef is a system of parallel reefs and home to over 1,200 species of tropical fish, and is unique in that soft corals predominate over hard corals. With no major rivers flowing into the sea it benefits from near perfect visibility and diving midweek when the locals are hard at work, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had the reefs to yourself!
  • Two Mile Reef: The excellent light penetration and shallow depth have created a beautiful underwater garden with a magnificent range of coral and invertebrate life. Anton’s Reef is a favourite site with dense schools of tropical fish and coral heads and overhangs forming interesting topography.
  • Five Mile Reef: Five mile is an extremely delicate, large flat reef hosting an astounding variety of fine coral which is remarkably intact. The multitudes of colourful tropical fish that swarm over the reef and around divers create the sensation of diving in an endless aquarium.
  • Seven Mile Reef: This wonderful little reef is popular because of its great diversity of tropical marine life, the drop-offs and mushroom shaped pinnacles. The larger specimens found here include Turtles and Rays, and there are regular sightings of bottle-nosed dolphins. The coral formations are delicate and in good condition.
  • Nine Mile Reef: The dramatic scenery of Nine Mile offers drop-offs, pinnacles and big coral trees. Due to the distance from the launch site, this reef is not dived as often as the more accessible ones and is in excellent condition. The marine life is diverse and includes most of the tropical fauna typical of the region as well as big schools of passing game fish.



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Protea Banks

   South Africa  Atlantic (South)
Aliwal Shoal: This immensely popular dive destination is an extensive, submerged reef located approximately 5 kms offshore. One of the main attractions of Aliwal Shoal are the large number of ragged tooth sharks that congregate to await the spring mating ritual. In addition large numbers of shoaling fish may be seen here, as well as a variety of small and colourful tropical fish. There are a number of popular dive sites on the shoal, as well as two wrecks: the Nebo (1884) and the Produce (1974).
Landers Reef: The beautiful Landers Reef is actually an extension of the Aliwal Shoal, about 2 kms south-west of the shoal and about 5 kms offshore. The reef enjoys good visibility and is often more spectacular than the main reef as it is often visited by large pelagics.
Protea Banks: A top shark dive site, visited by hammerheads, zambezi’s, tiger, dusky and great white sharks. During the winter and spring months shoals of ragged tooth sharks are found on the reef. A demanding dive for the more experienced divers!
Sodwana: The world’s southernmost coral reef is a system of parallel reefs and home to over 1,200 species of tropical fish, and is unique in that soft corals predominate over hard corals. With no major rivers flowing into the sea it benefits from near perfect visibility and diving midweek when the locals are hard at work, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had the reefs to yourself!


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Capetown

   South Africa  Atlantic (South)
There is interesting diving around Cape Town. The Atlantic side is cold, but features kelp beds, seals, penguins, whales (seasonally) and sharks (including relatively large numbers of great whites). The currents can be challenging, and visibility is not always the greatest. The further east you go, the more tropical it gets, with a fairly abrupt transition between cold water (currents originating in the Antarctic) and warm (currents flowing south down the African coast) just east of Cape Town. Big fish are the story pretty much everywhere, especially sharks.

Cape Town is gorgeous, cosmopolitan, surrounded by great vineyards, and relatively peaceful compared to the crime and general mayhem in Jo'burg and Durban. Durban is the other big city on the coast, and is in an Indian Ocean ecological zone. The political situation around Durban is dicey, however, and has not yet fully settled down after the transition to majority rule. The coast east of Cape Town is beautiful and there are a number of smaller cities and large towns where a diver could be happy. Most feature good small craft harbours, although, to the best of my knowledge, diving facilites are mostly restricted to larger centres. Others may have more detailed (and recent) information.
I dived with an outfit in Simonstown, just outside Cape Town.

We did the Rockeater a wreck at 35m we were buzzed by seals on the safety stop.
The water is cold 8-10C so a thick wetsuit or drysuit is needed.
A drive up to Platenburg bay is worth it the water warms up rapidly. You can also dive the shark cage in the aquarium and the kelp forest tank there as well.


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Sudanese reefs

   Sudan  Red Sea
SANGANEB
The coral reef surrounding the site of the famous British built lighthouse at Sanganeb has everything a diver could wish for. Rising from depths of 800m, the drop-offs boast caves and gullies, and one of the richest displays of soft coral in the Red Sea. Guests will spot an abundance of species in just 20m of water. In the depths, graceful Hammerheads sweep back and forth waiting for a photo opportunity.
SHA'AB RUMI SOUTH POINT
Prone to strong currents, this dive begins at the top of a coral formation and gradually drops to 20m, where you encounter three routes all falling away to 700m. Most species endemic to the Red Sea can be found here, including large numbers of Barracuda and sharks that are not afraid to pose for camera. Night dives are held in an enclosed lagoon.
The best diving is in the summer. It is recommended to bring mosquito repellent and wear longer clothing in the evenings during the cooler months of the year. There can be mosquitoes and occasionally malaria is found in the area though a much less severe form than that found in countries further south such as Kenya. If you are on a liveaboard you will only find mosquitoes while in the port on the day of arrival and departure and then only in the evenings.
The people are generally very friendly and helpful and do not hassle foreigners. Other countries in the area are renowned for people touting for business, begging or generally hassling visitors but the Sudanese people are polite and reserved. Sudan has many ancient temples and monuments as well as pyramids. If you are interested in visiting these sights you should organize an excursion from Khartoum.


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Sudanese Wrecks

   Sudan  Red Sea
Sudan has the only decent diving left in the Northern Red Sea. The Egyptian Red Sea has been dived out a long time ago. Most of the liveaboards operating out of Port Sudan are Italian, so it may take some searching to book one!
Sudan has some great reefs and wrecks.
WINGATE REEF
Sailing from Port Sudan, most dive boats conduct their first dives on the wreck of the Umbria, an Italian freighter sunk on June 9, 1940, the day before Italy went to war. She was headed to East Africa carrying over 300,000 bombs and other war supplies for Italian troops. The reason for her unfortunate fate is a mystery, but some believe she was scuttled by her captain for fear that she would fall into the hands of the British. Others maintain that she was under threat from a German submarine. Today she lies on her port side in 35m to 40m of water.
SHA'AB RUMI
In 1963, Jacques Cousteau mounted an expedition to Sha'ab Rumi to study Red Sea coral life. Guest are allowed to dive the remains of the team's underwater base, the Precontinent II shelf. Marine life is scarce, but the metal remains of the equipment shed and flying saucer-like structure, which are now delicately encrusted, are well worth a visit.
SHA'AD SU'ADI
The wreck of the modern cargo vessel Blue Bell lies keel-side up with the prow at 15m dropping down to 70m. Diving below 35m is not recommended, and divers are advised to keep an eye out for Tiger sharks. Diving is subject to weather conditions. Ma Sharif and Angarosh are famous for their majestic Manta rays.

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Aberdeen

   Hong Kong  South China Sea
I spent some time there back in '99 and contacted the local BSAC club on the island (South China Dive Club) they meet at the boat club in Aberdeen (south part of the island). They're a friendly lot and were very welcoming to me as a visitor, even loaning/renting some equipment. You can check out their website at website Alternatively there's a club in Kowloon, but I don't know any details for them.

The diving there is similar to diving in this country, but warmer and of course different marine life etc. Viz can be good or bad, again similar to UK. WAter temperature when I was there (July/August) was 28-30 degrees, so I managed quite well with swimming trunks and a T-shirt. You may consider a wetsuit though as depths below 15m can reduce noticeably in temperature.

Rob



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Kuredo

   Maldives  Indian Ocean
We went there 2 years agao and had a great time. The viz was good, but we were in March so don't know about Nov. We did meet a lot of people who were making return trips to the resort (some up to 10 times) so it must be fairly good. The currents can be strong in places, but this is also where the big pelagics hang out so is well worth the effort. The walls on the far side of the island are quite good and there are many dive sites to suit a range of experiences.
The dive centre (Pro Divers) was very good and friendly and provided nitrox at no extra cost. You could also pick up a tank and go diving on the house reef any time you wanted.

The island itself isn't huge (you can walk round it in less than an hour at a leisurely pace) and there is not a lot to do other than dive and lie on the beach. The food is good but make sure you get an all-inclusive package as the price of extras (like drinks) can be extortionate otherwise. On the way there, you may have the option of a sea plane or boat trip to get from the airport. Take the plane even if it costs a bit more as the 4-5 hour sea trip was described as being not that much fun after a 10 hours plane journey - especially if you get seasick.

I understand that they have upgraded the accomodation in the last 18 months since we were there, so whether it has changed the character of the resort - which was fairly laid back - I don't know, but I hope not.

Other than that - enjoy your trip.

Iain



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Layang Layang

   Malaysia  South China Sea
Layang Layang is an atoll 14 square kilometres in diameter jutting 2000 metres from the Ocean depths. In 1985, the Malaysian Federal Government began reclamation works and created a 50-acre island on one part of the reef. Thus, what is ardently known to East Malaysians as "Terumbu Layang Layang" or "Swallow's Reef" has now become Layang Layang Island
We had 5 days diving in Layang Layang (LL) this March. It was good and I would recommend it. The accommodation and food are fine - about 3 star UK hotel standard. The rental gear is adequate, but I would suggest if you are renting take your own extras such as a flag or DSMB, and a compass (LL is 300km offshore, has currents of about 1 knot off the ends of the island at times, and ocean swell). LL has a fleet of 9 or 10 identical dive boats, which are properly kitted out for the local conditions. Each boat holds about 10 divers. Only 2 boats were in use when we were there, because it was the start of the season and there weren't many guests. We were very impressed by the boatman - sharp-eyed and skillful. There are dive guides but you can dive on your own with a buddy if you prefer. The diving consists of big walls falling vertically to great depths, and coral plateaus. Plenty of fish including swirling shoals; sharks on most dives - we saw hammerheads, white tip reef, leopard, and grey reef sharks, often several on a dive; large marble rays, others saw manta also; exceptionally fine coral with many large fans, all in pristine condition. World-class diving, but unsuitable for beginners. The LL resort website is pretty accurate.
see also..
website
You reach LL by air charter from Kota Kinabalu (KK) in Sabah. If you do go to LL, it might be worth doing a few days there and a few days in Sipadan, which is easily reached from KK.


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Koh Ma Reef, Koh Phangan

   Thailand  South China Sea
This dive site is really unique. The site is a reef surrounding a small island that is attached to Koh Phangan by a sandbar that you can walk over. The reef is easily accessable by the shore or boat. What I really loved the most is the coral has nearly no damage which is quite unusual at sites in Thailand. The coral is very diverse, staghorn, brain, boulder, whip, fan - the list is endless and all in prisitine condition.
One amazing feature of the site is an anenome garden approx 30m square - I have never seen one like this before - you amost get vertigo diving through as there is nothing solid in sight to focus on and it is very shallow at 2-4m deep.

There are big shoals of fusilier, trevally and yellow fin barracuda and occasional green back turtles, black tip reef sharks. Every dive I have done there I have also seen blue spotted sting rays.

There is a dive shop situated on koh Ma called Phangan Divers and the staff there are very friendly and helpful.

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BIANCA C in GRENADA

   Grenada  Caribbean Sea
Bianca C is probably the most famous ship wreck in the Caribbean. She sits in 150ft of water, she is an Italian cruise ship that sunk in 1961, being 600ft long you can do a few dives on her and still not see it all. It can be an exciting dive as you never know what you might see, it may be sharks, spotted eagle rays, atlantic spade fish, and jacks, this is to name just a few.
Here at Dive Grenada we also have technical groups come a couple of times a year (MAD DOG expiditions) and they will teach all aspects of tech diving on the Bianca C. So longer bottom time on her and some penertration to different parts of the ship.
So this is one dive not to be missed.

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Bari Reef at Sand Dollar, Bonaire

   Netherlands Antilles  Caribbean Sea
Rates the top dive site in terms of species richness by the REEF Environmental organization. Present count, 323 species, plentiful in numbers as well as variety. With a drop off beginning in 30 feet (10 meters) of water, a continuous reef that runs parallel to shore, minimal to no currents, this is an ideal dive of all levels of divers. The majority of the fish life, colorful orange elephant ear sponges, purple tube and vase sponges and gorgonians are found between 30 - 60 feet or water. These shallow depths provide divers with plenty of underwater viewing time. Bonaire is ranked as the #1 macro capital in the Caribbean, and no site is better for marco than Bari reef. In the shallow terrace ( 0 to 30 feet) the rubble is home to move than 100 species of fish alone. (also ideal for snorkelers). Yellow headed jawfish, pike blenneys, sail fin blenneys and other beauties abound for those with patient eyes! On the reef slope, enormous schools of creole wrasse, queen and french angel fish, rock beauties, groupers, butterfly fish, and countless others. Frog fish generally there for long periods of time, squid in the shallow without fail!

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