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24 August 2017 - Diver Magazine - August 2017

The Last Dive Trip

Underwater photo-journalist and DIVER's Technical Editor Nigel Wade enjoyed a week on a liveaboard in the southern Maldives shortly before his untimely death earlier this year. The trip proved outstanding in terms of friendship, laughs and the images it produced. BRUCE MILANI-GALLIENI steps in to write the review - the photos are of course by NIGEL WADE 

NIGEL AND I HAD MET SEVERAL years ago, in Egypt. At first, I didn’t quite know what to make of this little guy and his never-ending, albeit hilarious, accounts of his exploits as a fireman. His laughter was infectious and our like-minded sense of humour and shared interests acted as a catalyst to form a very special friendship. 
He was a genius photographer and always happy to share his knowledge and offer tips. Nigel and I shared a passion for photography, though I was nowhere near his level, and he would never tire of giving me helpful guidance and advice. 
On this trip, once again, my photography took a dramatic step forward thanks to his patience and ability to explain the finer points. 
It’s rare to meet someone and “click” in such a profound way. Our friendship just kept getting stronger, and I can honestly say that I have never met anyone like him and, sadly, never will again.
OUR LAST TRIP TOGETHER started when another great buddy and travel agent John Spencer Ades, called me about a trip to the southernmost atoll in the Maldives. Suvadiva is the second largest atoll in the world, about 1° north of the Equator.
It was a little-known itinerary and promised to be something special. Sharks, whale sharks, untouched reefs, luxury liveaboard – oh, and Nigel Wade would be on the trip too. I didn’t take much convincing.
I asked John not to tell Nigel I was coming, as I wanted to surprise him at the airport. The look on Nigel’s face when I barged in front of him with my dive-gear-laden trolley was priceless. His mouth resembled that of a fish, opening and closing yet emitting no sounds – a rarity. 
Finally, a huge WTF!, followed by a bear-hug. The plan had worked to perfection and the trip was underway.
The long flights passed quickly and soon the three of us were aboard the Duke of York, the luxury liveaboard that would be our home for the next week. This 36m, three-deck super-yacht was well-equipped to cosset its guests. 
Recognising our zombie-like demeanour, the crew quickly showed us to our respective cabins so that we could freshen up and possibly push up a few Zs. I was pleasantly surprised by my cabin’s size and décor. It was beautifully appointed, with plenty of space to spread out. The en suite bathroom would not have looked out of place in a small flat.
I have been on many diving liveaboards, but this one was in a class of its own. It is Italian-owned and managed, and in typical fashion you are immediately made to feel welcome – an experience rather like visiting your favourite Italian restaurant.
In his inimitable way Nigel made sure he made himself known to all the crew, but in particular to the chef. 
Being a fussy eater, he needed an ally in the galley. Sure enough, at every meal “Nige’s dish” would be served.
It is not uncommon to have non-diving guests aboard the Duke of York, and the crew are only too happy to arrange a variety of activities for them, such as snorkelling or kayaking, or even DR0P them off on a secluded island for that Robinson Crusoe experience. 
Later, the tender will whisk them back to the yacht in time for cocktails and another lavish meal. 
For those who need to de-stress and unwind, a treatment room is at their disposal. Enrique the resident yoga instructor and wellbeing therapist has a number of different treatments and massages on offer. 
I often get a bit of a stiff back after diving, so what better than a massage with an ocean view as your mind drifts away? Enrique also runs yoga sessions for both beginners and the more experienced on the vast upper deck, a tranquil haven for sun-worshippers.

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27 April 2016 -

Save The Beach Maldives

Save The Beach Maldives has come far from its humble beginnings as a Youth Movement in Villimale’ initiated in 2008, with the aim of conserving the natural beaches of Male’ City from reclamation projects for the benefit of future generations. Today, the organization has expanded its interest and involvement to areas such as waste management, marine life conservation, rehabilitation and conservation of reefs and the compilation of a national database. 
This year, Save The Beach Maldives, in collaboration with The University of Genoa and Albatros Top Boat, hopes to launch its most ambitious project to date.  It is not only the first ever local expedition of this kind but is an extension of our on-going projects on a nationwide scale - the Turquoise Expedition: an intensive programme of research from the North to the South of the Maldives, providing education and training to local communities along the way.
Our partner for the Turquoise Expedition, The University of Genoa, has been in the forefront of Maldivian reef research, having surveyed Maldivian reefs for the past 19 years. The UNDP, Marine Research Centre of Maldives, the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Education endorse the expedition and trainings we plan to provide. 
The Turquoise Expedition aims to educate the public on the importance of conservation in the face of changing climate and impacts to the environment caused by human actions such as pollution. Training will focus specifically on waste management and reef research methods. Tool kits and manuals will be shared with the schools and systems can be implemented at their own pace. Trainings will also be carried out on turtle protection and identification protocols. 
Targeted towards creating international and local hype, excitement and support, a Reality Weekly TV Show documenting the Expedition – will run for three seasons. We hope this local TV production once promoted both locally and internationally, will ultimately encourage more people to be involved in conservation projects, as well as spread awareness about environmental mishaps that are currently happening and empower the public to do something about it. 
The entire project aims to increase public participation in conservation through various activities to experience the oceans. Trial dives, guided snorkelling and other interactive activities will be carried out during our island visits in addition to a much-anticipated local ocean competition amongst all 26 atolls – The Badhavee Challenge.  We hope to host a grand Turquoise Festival at a location close to the Capital City, Male’ this year, to ensure that we gather as much support as possible before embarking on the second portion of the Expedition. 
One of the ongoing projects that will be expanded on a nationwide scale during the expedition would be the implementation of waste management protocols and regularly conducted beach cleanups. Save The Beach Maldives conducted its first waste audit in 2012, to identify types of trash and waste found on the beach, and has since been continued on a periodical basis. During this audit, the majority of waste was classified as “other” being a mix of cigarette butts, fabric and clothing items, charcoal from BBQ’s, sand collected in plastics and so forth with the next highest count being attributed to “plastic” waste (plastic bags, PET, HDPE etcetera).  
In an effort to further engage communities with environmental conservation activities, Save The Beach has also hosted awareness sessions in primary and secondary schools as well as with local NGOs. One of the most important achievements under this project is that, in addition to the considerably more intensive weekly (on Saturdays) and annual beach clean ups organized with a larger participation from the local community, the Villimale’ beach does get cleaned on a daily basis. The organization is also responsible for the placement of waste bins that are now spread across the island in an effort to promote best practices in waste disposal. 
As with any cause, Save The Beach was founded based on more than the intention of saving a solitary beach, it was created with a holistic for the future and through an overwhelming and shared passion towards saving the environment. The beach cleanups and other community engagement activities hence acted as a gateway to further hone the intentions of the organization towards furthering its reach in the protection of the environment. As local reefs play a definitive and major role in conservancy, Save The Beach’s Reef Monitoring and Rehabilitation Programme was a natural progression of the organization’s interest and activities, and is another aspect of that the Turquoise Project will expand on, and will involve acquiring invaluable data about the reefs in every atoll in the Maldives so that future programmes may be designed to address specific issues.  
The first major project undertaken by the Reef Monitoring and Rehabilitation Programme was funded by the UNDP and took place in 2014, at the Villimale’ House Reef, by replanting broken coral fragments. As the efforts coincided with the Hulhumale’ Reef being reclaimed, Save The Beach Maldives took the opportunity to attempt a relocation of corals which would otherwise be destroyed. Out of the corals relocated from Hulhumale’ to Villimale’, less than 20% survived. 
The One Nation Coral Revival, a community outreach event, was planned to involve locals in the reef rehabilitation process by allowing them to participate and witness in the replanting of corals and the damages incurred prior to the event. Broken fragments of the Villimale’ reef, though ideal for such purpose, proved to be insufficient in quantity. Coupled with the reclamation of Uthuru Thila taking place, the organization decided to make the best of the circumstances and once more harvested corals for relocation. This event allowed Save The Beach to disseminate vital awareness information about the vulnerability and importance of our local house reefs to the communities of Villimale’ and Male’. One Nation Coral Revival was a very successful event, attracting participation from various NGO’s and Schools and the reef parade in particular, was widely covered by the press.
Ultimately what we, as an organization learnt about conducting awareness programmes and implementing conservation efforts, led us to believe that there is a great deal more to be done, before true change can be affected. We, as environmentalists, are still a minority in a nation that is not only plagued with environmental issues but it is also arguably one of the most susceptible lands to the devastating effects of environmental change, as its people are 100% dependent on the stability of its environment for their livelihood. If the people of Maldives were truly well educated about their environment and the disastrous events taking place around them, we believe that they would understand that it is their best interest to protect and conserve it.  
It is this dream that gave life to the Turquoise Expedition. The expedition aims to travel to all 26 geographical atolls in the Maldives, visiting the most populated islands for 2-3 days each, in order to empower the local communities across the country to take matters into their own hands and to protect the environment that sustains them. While we conduct reef checks, waste audits and compile vital scientific knowledge for a national database, we also absolutely hope to bridge the gap between Maldivians and the beautiful beaches, reefs and marine life that they are blessed with and to foster a deeper appreciation for what we take for granted every day. 

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18 June 2015 - UNTERWASSER



Thanks to Daniel Brinckmann for the article and photos.

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20 March 2014 - H2O Magazine

Fly Fishing Cruises

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