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New Underwater Museum in Cannes

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A new underwater museum has opened in Cannes, France this month. Funded by the Mairie de Cannes and commissioned by its mayor, David Lisnard, the project took over 4 years to develop and is the work of British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor.

The Museum is Jason de Caires Taylor’s first installation in the Mediterranean Sea. It follows on from his previous work, the most famous of which is the world’s first underwater sculpture park – the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada in the Caribbean.

The Museum in Cannes features a series of six monumental three-dimensional portraits, each over two metres in height and ten tons in weight. They are sited near the island of Sainte-Marguerite, one of the Lérins Islands, just off the coast of Cannes. Placed at a depth of between two and three metres, these artworks rest on areas of white sand, in-between oscillating posidonia sea grass meadows in the protected southern part of the island. The shallow depth and close proximity to shore make the site easily accessible, and the crystal-clear waters provide ideal conditions for snorkelling. This is the one museum you can access in a socially-distant way, wearing a scuba mask over your eyes rather than a mask over your mouth.

The six works are based on portraits of local members of the community, covering a range of ages and professions, for example, Maurice – an 80 year old local fisherman –  and Anouk – a 9- year old primary school pupil. Each face is significantly upscaled and sectioned into two parts, the outer part resembling a mask. The theme of masks connects to the history of Île Sainte-Marguerite, well known as the location where the Man with the Iron Mask was imprisoned. Cannes, through its famous annual film festival, is well known for its relationship with the performing arts.

The location of the sculptures was previously an area of disused marine infrastructure. Part of the project was a significant clearing of the site, removing marine debris such as old engines and pipelines to create a space for the installation of artworks which have been specifically designed, using Ph neutral materials, to attract marine fauna and flora. The site has now been cordoned off from boats, making it safe for snorkellers and divers, and preventing damage by anchors to the seagrass meadows. Posidonia grass is a vital habitat area and is sometimes referred to as the lungs of the ocean for the vast amount of oxygen it creates. With all his projects, Jason aims to draw attention to the sea as a fragile biosphere in urgent need of protection.

The split mask is a metaphor for the ocean. One side of the mask depicts strength and resilience, the other fragility and decay. From land, we see the surface, calm and serene, or powerful and majestic. This is the view of the mask of the sea. However below the surface is a fragile, finely-balanced ecosystem – one which has been continuously degraded and polluted over the years by human activity.

You can find out more about The Museum and Jason de Caires Taylor at www.underwatersculpture.comor on Instagram – #jasondecairestaylor.


Images: @jasondecairestaylor – www.underwatersculpture.com

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Ten Sensational Spots to Snorkel or Learn to Dive!

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A guest blog by PADI

Snorkeling has long been a beloved way to explore the underwater world. With vibrant coral gardens, large schools of fish and a vast underwater topography to explore, snorkel excursions are a great way to experience both your own backyard and create memorable holiday memories to last a lifetime.

But often these sensational snorkel spots are an equally a great place to make your first ocean dives. Whether you participate in a PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience or take the PADI Open Water Diver course to become a certified diver, you’ll be guided by a trained PADI® Professional who will be looking out for you the entire time as you take your first breaths under the ocean. This experience allows you to have an intimate connection with the location you are exploring as, oftentimes, you will have the opportunity to see even more marine life than you would from the surface of the water.

To help you plan your next ocean adventure— whether it be down the road or on your next overseas adventure (whenever that may be!) —we have rounded up ten sensational spots where you can both snorkel and learn to scuba dive!

  1. Kohala Coast, Kaanapali, Maui, USA

Not only does Hawaii come with beautiful scenery above water, but the island chain equally boasts some of the most incredible underwater landscapes in America. One of the best places to experience this is along the Kohala Coast in Kaanapali, Maui—whose calm and clear waters make it a favorite spot amongst snorkelers. But it makes for an equally exceptional scuba experience, where you will get to do either do a boat or shore dive and get amongst the turtles, tropical fish and dramatic underwater landscapes.  

Photo Credit: PADI

  1. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Be delighted by one of Australia’s most beloved underwater gems—the Great Barrier Reef. Featuring a rainbow of colorful coral gardens and hundreds of tropical fish species, there is plenty to explore here. It is an ideal spot for groups that want varied experiences as tour operators can cater for those that want to snorkel, those that want to learn to dive and those that are already PADI certified. And when you’re not in the water you will get an enriching reef talk where the experts, who will take you though ways in which you can play a part in conserving the reef system.

  1. Sharks Bay, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt

For those that don’t want to spend the whole day out on a boat but still want to have a memorable experience on the Red Sea, Sharks Bay in Sharm-El-Sheikh is a great option. With stunning house reefs and wrecks in a marine protected area, the colorful underwater experience is beloved by both those that snorkel or do a discover scuba through the area. The boat ride to the house reef is a short one and the memories will certainly last you a lifetime.

Photo Credit: PADI

  1. Poor Knights Island, Northland, New Zealand

Have the perfect day out at one of New Zealand’s first marine reserves. Dubbed by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, Poor Knights Island offers something for everyone. You can easily spend hours swimming through the dense kelp forests and archways full of fish! And in between snorkels you can sign yourself up for a PADI Discover Scuba® Diving experience, where the chances are high you will encounter nudibranchs, long-tailed stingrays, devil rays, sea turtles and even an occasional orca!

  1. Stingray City, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

With unique marine life and spectacular underwater topography, Stingray City in Grand Cayman is a stunning spot to explore the ocean. It is famous for the large of stingrays that come through in search of a meal and offers water enthusiasts a special encounter with them. Those lucky enough may even get a kiss on the lips from these friendly sea creatures. Whether you are snorkeling or doing a discover scuba experience here, make sure you also have your camera in hand, as this spot is extremely photogenic and you’ll want a keepsake of you and your new underwater friends.

Photo Credit: PADI

  1. Great Astrolabe Reef, Kadavu, Fiji

One of the most intimate places to snorkel and also have your first diving experience is in the Great Astrolabe Reef. A few seconds underwater and you will quickly discover why Fiji is regarded as the soft coral capital of the world. It is a great spot to have your “Finding Nemo” moment and chances are high that you will also see manta rays and resident white tip reef sharks while you’re in the crystal-clear warm waters. With only small groups exploring the reef at a time, it is the perfect spot to have a special moment amidst the pristine nature.

  1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, Florida, USA

With this state fully re-open for business (at the time of writing), ditch the crowded amusement parks and beaches for Florida’s underwater park at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which was the first of its kind in America! What makes this an equally great place to snorkel and learn to dive are the shallow waters that have an immense landscape for you to explore. You’ll see abundant sea life with over 650 types of fish, 40 types of living coral the famed 12-foot submerged statue of Jesus.

  1. The Blue Hole, Gozo, Malta

Whether you are snorkeling or diving for the first time in Malta, taking a giant stride into their blue hole is a must-do bucket list item. It’s no surprise this is a favorite spot amongst ocean lovers, as Jacques Cousteau rated this spot one of the best in all of Europe. Be amazed as you watch the natural light rays bounce off the beautiful reef—illuminating the unique topography of the area. For those that try a dive here, it will certainly set standards high for future dives to come!

Photo Credit: Manuel Bustelo

  1. Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenburg Bay, South Africa

What’s cooler than snorkeling with seals? Diving with them! Plettenburg Bay in the Western Cape is home to some of the friendliest seals who are keen to play all day long. Sign up to snorkel with them for the day during an ocean excursion or do a discover scuba experience— where you learn to dive in the pool first and then head to the ocean to find your furry friends! Either way, it is only a short boat ride out to find the seals, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to play with them in their natural habitat.

  1. Crag-y-Mor, Wales, United Kingdom

Explore the cooler (literally) places in Wales by going on an underwater snorkeling or diving adventure! There are both half-day snorkeling and diving trips that give you a new perspective of the coastline—where both seals and historical ruins are in abundance. While there are magical marine life encounters in these waters all year long, summer offers a chance to see the water sparkle from both moon and blue jellyfish. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll swim passed walls that are covered in red sea squirts!

Photo Credit: PADI

Ready to dive in? Visit padi.com or contact a PADI Dive Center or Resort to start planning your snorkel or scuba trip!

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Photo Gallery: Snorkeling in Abaco in The Bahamas

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Abaco in The Bahamas, has a lot to offer both keen snorkelers and divers, with beautiful coral reefs, historic wrecks, stunning caves as well as plenty of marine life (including their own swimming pigs). All this in clear, blue, warm, water surrounding a tropical Caribbean paradise.

Just after our visit Abaco was hit by a powerful hurricane that caused devastation. As the islanders were recovering from this the COVID19 pandemic caused travel chaos, but now, after an incredibly challenging time, Abaco is getting back on its feet and it is will worth visiting.

We spent a day out snorkeling with Brendal’s Dive Centre, based on Green Turtle Cay, and got to enjoy encounters with swimming pigs, as well as Nurse Sharks, sea turtles and rays swimming over a healthy sea grass habitat.

For more information about snorkeling in The Bahamas, visit the tourism website by clicking here.

Accommodation: Bluff House

Snorkeling: Brendal’s Dive Centre

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