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About camille

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    Sea Nettle

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    Nikon D 5
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  1. Hello everybody!

    Our new blogpost is out!

    Harlequin shrimp? More like Hannibal Lecter shrimp!


    Coral reefs are rich, biodiverse ecosystems that are home to incredible creatures of all shapes and sizes. Scuba divers from all over the world flock to remote locations like the Mergui Archipelago in Burma, to have the chance to catch a glimpse of marine curiosities from massive manta rays to tiny nudibranchs scattered across underwater landscapes that will take your breath away. If you are the kind of person who is enthralled by macro life, you have surely heard of the harlequin shrimp...

    Harlequin shrimp have very unique dinning habits that could easily be inspiring for the plot of a horror movie. Although they are very small, they survive on a diet of almost exclusively live starfish much bigger then themselves. With a particular taste for their legs and soft tissues (best eaten with a nice chianti). Most seas tars species are suitable but reportedly Harlequin shrimp cannot eat brittle stars...


  2. Once you invest in dive gear, you want it to last as long as possible. To do this, a vigilant maintenance ritual is essential! Here are some recommended steps: 1. Rinse it immediately after use This is the first very important step. After a dive, salt or chlorine could leave some harmful residues on your gear. Rinse it in FRESH water as soon as you dismantle your kit to clear the dirt and reduce the risk of corrosion. 2. Dry it properly away from the sun Thoroughly dry out your gear after a day's diving. You can use a towel for the small parts (like first stage) and then hang it in an open air area. Enclosed places will make your gear smelly, humid and can also promote the growth of mould. It is very important to keep it away from the sun while drying because sun can damage some materials. 3. Store it for the next time Try to find a shaded dry and fresh room to protect your gear from humidity, sun and overheating. If you have no choice but to store it in a closed bin or other space with restricted air flow, consider using silica gel packets or even an open box of baking soda to absorb extra moisture. How to clean every piece of your Equipment? MASK It is really important to prepare well your mask before the dive so that it won't get foggy. First you need it to be very clean. Fresh from the manufacturing line, a new mask often has a residual layer or silicone covering the tempered glass which will create lots of fog during a dive. There are many methods to treat a mask including soaking it overnight in cola, using toothpaste on the inside and burning it with a lighter. In my opinion the best way to remove that pesky extra silicone is to first burn it so that the lenses turn black. Be careful to stay away from the edges of the lenses with the flame as you can damage the seal between the glass and the frame. Rinse off the soot and then thoroughly massage toothpaste onto the inside of the lens and let it dry all night. The day after wash it with dish soap and rinse. You might need to repeat the process few times before it is efficient. Patience ! Also when you soap up your mask before your dive, be sure not to rinse all the soap out. You don't want it to burn your eyes but that little soapy film will prevent fogging quite efficiently. REGULATOR Before doing anything, read the manual for specific procedure. When you take your regulator of from the tank, clean and dry the first stage tank connection to make sure there is no dust or water on it. Blow dry the dust cap and screw it firmly back in place. Rinse the entire regulator in fresh water as soon as possible after use. Be careful not to press the purge button of the 2nd stage, which might open the valve and make some water seep into the 1st stage. The best is to dunk the second stages into fresh water, paying special attention the the mothpice and any connections. Remove the hose protectors from their place to rinse the length of hose hidden by this rubber sleeve. Dry it away from the sun without twisting hoses. Have your regulator professionally serviced in an authorized dive center every 2 years, or according to the manufacturer's directions. Be sure to always have this technical maintenance carried out by a trained licensed professional. This piece of equipment keeps you alive underwater, so please be responsible with making sure it is up the the precious task. BCD Be sure to check your BCD before every dive. Are the releases well clipped? Is your cylinder band secure and safety strap in place? Does you LPI function correctly with both power and manual inflators? Does the LPI's direct system deflator button work well? Do the emergency dump valves quickly and effortlessly deflate the BCD? After the dive give your BCD a bath on the inside and out as prolonged exposure to salt water can degrade the inner bladder as well as the seems and stitches. Rinse the outside with fresh water then partially inflate and dump out any extra seawater that may have gotten trapped inside. Be sure to use your emergency dump valves to drain the water as salt water can damage the direct system on the LPI very quickly. Now pour some fresh water into the BCD through the manual inflate mouthpiece to rinse the inside. have a little dance with your BCD as you turn is upside down and in all directions to move the fresh water to every corner of the bladder. Now hold it as high as you can with your emergency dump valve at the lowest point of the jacket and purge the water through the dump valve. Partially inflate and let it dry away from direct sunlight in an open air place. Store it in a dry room. EXPOSURE SUIT After every use, rinse your exposure suit inside and out in freshwater. If you have access to warm water, this will help dilute salt and chlorine more readily and flush residues out of the fabric. Lubricate the zippers with Vaseline or silicone lubricant. Make sure to coat the length of the zipper by doing up and undoing the zipper several times after greasing it up. This can also help remove any small particles that can jam it up and damage it. Dry and store it on proper hangers, large enough to prevent lasting folds in your suit. I always prefer to fold my wetsuit in half over the hanger instead of placing the hanger's arm's in the shoulders like you would with a coat. When the suit is wet it is quite heavy so hanging it the way you would hang up a shirt can actually stretch out the shoulders over time, deforming the upper half of the garment. You can even get hangers specific for diving equipment with little hooks and clips designed for hoods, gloves and other accessories. KNIFE Even your blade is stainless steel, you need to rinse it properly after diving. Take it out of its protective sheath and if you can, open it completely. This will allow the blade to dry and prevent rusting and also can free small salt particles from the joints. Dry it properly with a towel and store it in it’s case again so you don't risk damaging your gear or yourself. FLASH LIGHTS Rinse it with fresh water as soon as you can, so salt water doesn’t have time to dry on it and leave marks. Press the ON/OFF button few times underwater to remove any dust or salt particles and make sure the button doesn't jam up in either position. Remove it from the water and dry it on the outside. Make sure your hands aren't wet and to open it gently so any lingering water doesn't get inside. Remove, dry and clean all the joints and lubricate the o-rings and threads. Put it back together and store the battery and the torch separately in a dry area away from heat. MORE ARTICLES ABOUT DIVING SECURITY ON OUR BLOG
  3. WOW it must have been incredible 17 years ago! Lucky you! I only started diving there in 2012 so I cant compare but I can tell you that one thing disappeared in the last 8 year and that's the dynamite fishing. I did see a carpet of dead fish few times in the earliest years and that was the saddest thing to witness ... What surprised me the most about dynamite fishing was that the coral was not damaged (I had heard stories about destroyed reefs and was surprised it wasn't the case in the dynamited sites). When I researched about this fact I learned that fishermen time the blast to explode mid-water to kill a maximum of fish and that is why the coral reef survived. But thankfully this is over. I haven't heard a blast in a long time and I believe the action of Flora and Fauna International in 2013 -17 are the ones to thank for: more on this here: https://www.thesmilingseahorse.com/conservation-project-mergui.html) The Smiling Seahorse is not the only boat cruising the area but it is the only boat doing this exclusively and cruising Mergui every week between November and May. The boats leaving from Khao Lak and Phuket are usually running trips to Surin and Similan islands and going to Myanmar only a few times per season. And while 5 boats may be in Mergui Archipelago at the same time during a few "peak season" weeks it is still very rare to share a dive sites as the area is very large and sharing is easily avoided.
  4. Hi Craig, thanks for your comment. Indeed this should have been included! Ranong at the border between Thailand and Myanmar is the best departure point if you want to do Myanmar only and not cross Similan and Surin islands in Thailand. To reach Ranong you have several options: - fly to Phuket and then drive to Ranong (3 hours) - or fly to Bangkok and then fly to Ranong (1h flight 3 daily flights)
  5. Hello everyone, We just wrote this article on preparing a trip to Mergui Archipelago Myanmar as an underwater photographer. Please do read and let me know what you think of it. A part is about preparing a trip to Myanmar but the rest applies to all destination: What to look for when choosing your boat, what to bring etc... https://wetpixel.com/articles/photographing-the-mergui-archipelago-by-franck-and-camille-fogarolo Good reading!
  6. Written by the specialists of scuba diving cruises to the Mergui Archipelago and the Burma banks... Diving around Burmese islands: a new dive destination in Myanmar... If you want the most unique Myanmar diving experience on the planet, then the Mergui Archipelago is the place for you. Myanmar's waters were closed off until 1997, which means that they are relatively unexplored and undiscovered by even some of the most seasoned divers. With gorgeous topography made of caves, soft and hard coral, incredibly rich wildlife and exclusive dive sites, it is diving like you’ve never experienced before. Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago offers over 800 islands sprinkled throughout 12,000 square kilometers of crystalline waters just begging to be discovered. Since the Burmese seas were opened to tourism, only a few boats have begun to appear, yet the islands remain almost entirely uninhabited save for the odd Burmese sea gypsies, the mokens. Most divers who go to Burma seek the mysterious waters of the Mergui Archipelago. This off-the-beaten-path diving destination is made mostly from limestone (ensuring there are plenty of caves and tunnels) and a few granite pinnacles circled by a wide diversity of coral of every imaginable color. Diving Myanmar gives you the possibility to run into species like manta rays, barracudas, frog fish, crabs of all types (spider crabs, decorative crab, sponge crab...) seahorses, and every type of shrimp including one of our favorites, the elusive harlequin shrimp. Different kinds of sharks also populate the area and often swim alongside giddy divers. The reefs in the area are also quite impressive not only because of their sheer beauty, but also because of their size: some reefs can be as large as a small house! The best time of the year to embark on a Myanmar diving safari is between November and May, the rest of the year is when the monsoon rains roll in and can present very rough seas. The best way to go diving in Burma: liveaboard Diving trips In Myanmar, diving is almost entirely accessed by live-aboard boats, which offer the most effective means of exploring the outer reaches of the Mergui Archipelago. Myanmar cruise boats depart from Ranong in Thailand or Kawthoung in Myanmar.Ranong itself is home to various It is blessed with hot springs, unspoiled mangrove forests and gorgeous little islands. It makes a great base for a few days of relaxing and exploring before joining your liveaboard dive trip in Burma. What can you see when diving in Myanmar? Divers are spoiled for choice in Burma’s virgin waters. Mantas, dolphins, blotched sting rays and Leopard sharks patrol the clear, calm waters.Little creatures enjoy equal billing to the big boys here; Lobsters, crabs (spider/sponge/porcelain), and shrimp (squat/mantis/tapestry/durban...) scurry around the sea floor providing plenty of action. Keen underwater photographers wont know where to point the camera first, with pipe fish (ghost/cleaner/spotted), frog fish, scorpion fish (stone/lions/leaf) nudibranch and seahorses all jostling for position against the coral heads and myriad colors of the untouched seabed. The Burma Banks: correcting a misconception...The Burma banks are surprisingly famous compared to the Mergui Archipelago, this is due to the fact that diving boats from Thailand where allowed to visit the Burma banks (in international waters) far earlier than they have been allowed in the rest of Mergui Archipelago. Some dive operators and magazines keep using this name in their communications to this day.Burma banks were first visited between 1980's and 1990's and became the place to be for shark sightings. The Burma banks are a network of large underwater mountains about 180 kilometers North West of the Similan islands. Far from the reaching tendrils of modern society and surrounded by deep blue water, it offers true open-ocean diving.What's good about the Burma Banks:Those who venture into the Banks are rewarded with great visibility over giant underwater seamounts that can rise up to 15 meters below the water, all the way down to 300. It is very different from the diving you will find in Thailand and Mergui Archipelago because it is very remote and depths are much greater than in the more travelled areas. This also gives you a better chance to see some larger more evasive deep-sea species.These factors also do present a pretty strong upside as it is the best spot in the region to dive with sharks: a lot of nurse sharks are seen here but some bigger/ rarer sharks were also spotted like the tiger shark and silvertip. When to go for a Liveaboard in Myanmar? Diving in Myanmar(Burma) is good from November till May with peak season from January till March. The water is at the coolest in December around 26 degree and gets to 28 degrees in April. Above the surface, the sea is usually flat from February till April with some wind and few waves at the beginning of the season and dry but warm climate in April. We always find it hard to answer the question: when is the best time to visit, every one of the six month season has its particular merits. At the beginning of the season, you can see more cuttlefish mating for example and at the end a blossom of ghost pipefish. Whale Sharks and Mantas can be seen all season long with a bit more consistency toward the end of the season. The rainy season is from May till October at which time the sea can be dangerous so we hang up our fins and take this time for annual maintenance and upkeep. We are reachable all year round but we do not venture out to sea in these months.
  7. Hello there, After a few years, I now feel the need to upgrade my camera for underwater photography. I would be interested to buy a full package, must be nikon and at least as good as the D7000. Thanks for your offers. I'm a serious buyer. Regards, Camille
  8. Hello Startfish, I'm interested by the whole package can you send me the pics and full details of what's included and what's not? crovillain@hotmail.com Cheers, Camille
  9. hello there, do you also sell your nikon d7000? I'm looking for a full package. thanks, Camille
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