Know your fish
UK-based travel company Dive Safari Asia has added a new programme to its guided tours of the Asia-Pacific region to help divers improve their ability to identify marine life. It is being applied in key locations in terms of marine biodiversity, such as Raja Ampat and Komodo in Indonesia, Palau and various locations in the Philippines.
Participants are provided with a compact camera, identification slates and blank drawing slates for the duration of the tour. Following evening theory sessions, a set of tasks and challenges is completed throughout the day’s diving to build understanding of fish behaviour, identification and general knowledge of the marine environment.
Evening presentations by resident marine biologists of dive resorts also feature throughout the tour. Included in the price of £325pp (in addition to the tour price) is a Helmut Debelius Asia-Pacific Reef Guide, ID slates, a CD with your images and use of a laptop throughout the tour.
The next available tour is the Oceania Safari, featuring the Philippines, and the Palau Safari, which takes place from 1-16 May, 2015. See the website for details and prices.

Ways of the rays
Love manta-diving It gets better the more you understand the ways of the rays. The Manta Diver distinctive speciality from Euro-Divers at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa consists of two training dives during manta season, which runs from June until October.
The fee for this speciality is US $275 (dives $116, boat fees $30, dive gear $49 and certification fee $80), with the normal training fee waived for DIVER readers.
Divers need to be qualified at least to Open Water Diver level.

Do the Biorock
Reefs worldwide constantly struggle to survive the threat from dynamite fishing, waves, storms, strong currents, coral-bleaching and rising sea temperatures. Trawangan Dive in Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia has teamed up with the Gili Eco Trust to help protect and regenerate local reefs using Biorock technology.
Claiming one of the world’s largest concentrations of Biorock structures, it is said to be one of the only places where you can learn about Biorocks and help to create and maintain them.
Its two-week courses, held quarterly, include training in coral and substrate ID, coral ecology, Biorock technology and how to identify damaged coral reefs. You’ll do two dives daily, including ”reef gardening” and designing, building, welding and sinking of your own Biorock.
At the end of the course you receive the PADI Distinctive Speciality certification. Shorter versions of the speciality are available.

Shark, ray & turtle
Prodivers Kuredu, one of the biggest dive centres in the Maldives, offers both shark & ray and turtle courses – because it has cause to be confident of locating its subjects.
The theory section of its Maldivian Shark & Ray Diver course includes detailed information about the various species, with emphasis on those encountered in the Maldives. On the dive at a known shark spot, the goal is to spot the creatures and apply what has been learned about them.
Prodivers’ Sea Turtle Diver course follows a similar format – students learn about the habitat, reproduction, hunting and feeding habits and the identification of turtles, especially the species found around the Lhaviyani Atoll.
During the dive at Kuredu Caves you can expect to encounter one of the largest communities of greens and hawksbills in the Maldives.
Both programmes cost US $125, including course, boat fee, dive and certification.

Project Shark
blue o two’s “Project Shark: Simply the Best“ itineraries take in the Brothers and Daedalus offshore reefs in the Red Sea. They are designed to give divers the opportunity to learn more about the biology and behaviour of sharks, with nightly lectures from a representative of the Red Sea Sharks Trust, founded by marine biologist Elke Bojanowski, who collects population data on oceanic whitetips.
The next two Project Shark trips on the liveaboard blue Horizon leave on 24 and 31 October from Hurghada and Port Ghalib and cost £1399 and £1249 respectively.

Thresher spec
Malapascua Island off Cebu in the Philippines is the only place in the world where you can reliably dive with one of the most beautiful and graceful of sharks, the thresher, and Thresher Shark Divers offers a unique PADI speciality course to teach you all about them.
Divers who sign up are also promised to find out more about sharks in general, including their biology, reproductive and social behaviour. There is also a strong emphasis on conservation.
The course includes plenty of photos and videos, including mating behaviour and rare footage of thresher sharks feeding by slapping their tails into schools of fish.
And you get two thresher-shark dives into the bargain (be prepared for a very early start!)
The course costs £120, but mention DIVER when you book and you’ll get a 15% discount.
The dive centre will also make a donation to Project AWARE on your behalf and you receive a special shark certification card.

Spot the shark!
At Camel Dive Club & Hotel in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt you can sign up to learn more about the sharks that the club says are regular sightings, especially during summer.
Camel reports that all its instructors are now qualified to teach the PADI AWARE Shark Conservation speciality course, with the aim of informing divers and protecting the animals.
The programme includes two open-water training dives, a Powerpoint presentation and a knowledge review and costs 130 euros, plus a 35-euro certification fee.
Camel suggests that you get the best out of your course by combining it with a trip by its “superfast” speedboat to the Strait of Tiran – up to 20 hammerheads were spotted by Camel’s guests on the outer part of Jackson Reef last summer.