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Scotland’s newest snorkel trail reveals Lochaber’s hidden depths

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A new snorkel trail exploring Lochaber’s beautiful beaches and rocky shores has been created by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and West Highland College UHI. The self-led Lochaber Snorkel Trail features six sites on the region’s coast and identifies areas that can be explored by both beginner and more advanced snorkellers.

Launch of the Lochaber snorkel trail
Snorkellers at the launch of the Lochaber Snorkel Trail © Scottish Wildlife Trust and West Highland College, UHI

Exploring these areas could lead to close-up encounters with colourful wildlife including starfish, jellyfish, anemones and crabs, as well as seals and a range of fish.

The trail began as a final year project for a Marine and Coastal Tourism student based at West Highland College’s School of Adventure Studies. It was launched on the shore of Loch Linnhe by students from the college and Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.

Dr Sam Collin, Living Seas Manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Lochaber’s dramatic landscapes, beautiful beaches and internationally recognised biodiversity make it one of the finest locations for marine and coastal tourism in Scotland.

“The Lochaber Snorkel Trail is a fantastic addition to the network of trails being developed as part of our Living Seas project and we are delighted to have worked closely with West Highland College UHI to create it. We want to help people realise the importance of protecting Scotland’s seas – helping local people and visitors to safely discover marine wildlife through snorkelling is a fantastic way to achieve that.”

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “It was fantastic to have the chance to experience first-hand the amazing coastal environment we have in Lochaber. This initiative goes to show that you don’t have to go to the Caribbean to see crystal clear waters and colourful marine life.

“I’m pleased to see West Highland College UHI and the Scottish Wildlife Trust collaborating on this new snorkel trail, a welcome initiative during Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. The work helps to highlight Lochaber’s stunning coast and the amazing life beneath the waves. I’m sure the trail will enhance adventure tourism in Lochaber, and raise awareness of the importance of looking after our local marine life.”

Annabel Lawrence, Lecturer in Marine and Coastal Tourism at West Highland College UHI said: “We’re delighted to have worked with the Scottish Wildlife Trust to deliver this new trail, which is an opportunity for residents and visitors to Lochaber to experience our coastal and inshore waters and foster a connection to this environment. We hope that it will lead to a greater understanding, appreciation and protection of these fragile, threatened habitats and iconic species.”

Kate Forbes MSP (far right) at the launch of the Lochaber Snorkel Trail
Kate Forbes MSP (far right) at the launch of the Lochaber Snorkel Trail © Scottish Wildlife Trust and West Highland College, UHI

“The trail began as a final year project for one of our Marine and Coastal Tourism students. The project, developed with support from the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Centre for Tourism Research (CRTR) at West Highland College, has resulted in this new trail around Lochaber, the training and qualification of 12 UHI students as British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) Snorkel Instructors and also Dolphin Snorkeller training for primary school children in the area. The training and elements of the leaflet production were supported through the CAPITEN project, co-financed by the Atlantic Area INTERREG programme and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

“Our Marine and Coastal Tourism degree delivered by the School of Adventure Studies was developed in response to Scotland’s initial marine tourism strategy ‘Awakening the Giant’ which presented the opportunity to create a world class marine tourism sector in Scotland, the relationship between UHI and the marine tourism sector has now developed into a partnership with the 2020 ‘Giant Strides’ marine tourism strategy ensuring that ‘Marine tourism is sustainable and meets changing consumer, workforce, community and environmental needs and expectations, whilst growing the industry’s overall economic contribution to over £500 million by 2025’ (Giant Strides, 2020:3).

“The degree is in its sixth year of delivery and has had many positive outcomes. Graduates from the course are involved in sea kayaking, sailing, leisure cruises, business start-ups and community marine projects.”

Click here to find out more about the Scottish Wildlife Trust snorkel trails.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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The Suit Ocean Team leads the Ultimate Curacao Snorkeling Adventure

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By Bryan Horne
Snorkeling and scuba diving in Curacao is a dream for anyone who loves the combination of amazing beaches and the mind blowing biodiversity that exists along 104 square kilometers of its fringing coral reefs. So if you are interested in the ultimate Caribbean snorkeling adventure then keep reading as The Suit Ocean Team takes you on a one hundred kilometer snorkeling tour of Curacao’s southern shoreline.

As passionate residents of our Dutch Caribbean Island, we must congratulate The Suit Ocean Team for creating more awareness about the importance of protecting our beautiful fringing reef systems in Curacao.

The film, Curacao Underwater Kunuku (Kunuku is Papiamento for Garden), not only documents this ultimate snorkeling adventure showing you how easy it is for everyone to access and enjoy a snorkel or diving experience, but it also showcases the interaction between man and nature, highlighting the beauty of underwater life while promoting conservation, preservation and the need to protect these vital habitats.

These are the key ingredients to this beautiful short film documentary. Watch NOW and please enjoy our “CURACAO UNDERWATER KUNUKU”.

This film, produced by the Lawrence Mensa Foundation (LMF), is also available in multiple languages including: Spanish, Papiamentu, Dutch, Portuguese and German.

Images courtesy of The Suit Ocean Team
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7 best places to go snorkeling in Brazil

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With more than 7,000 km of coastline dotted with bustling cities, white-sand beaches and coral reefs, Brazil offers a unique mix of culture, history and world-class snorkeling. This fascinating country is home to the largest coral reef system in the South Atlantic Ocean and has numerous snorkeling destinations. Between them, they include wreck diving meccas, vibrant coral reefs, marine parks, and a UNESCO World Heritage Center. But where are the best places to go snorkeling in this vast country? Let’s find out in our round-up of the best snorkeling in Brazil.

1) Recife

Recife is the main city in the state of Pernambuco and takes its name from the many reefs, or ‘recifes’, that surround its shoreline. It is known as the shipwreck capital of Brazil and boasts dozens of shipwrecks, from historic 19th Century ships through to modern vessels. All of which are thriving artificial reefs surrounded by huge schools of fish.

Whilst you won’t be able to access many of the wrecks as a snorkeler, Recife’s numerous reefs offer easy snorkeling in warm, clear waters all year. There are numerous reef fish to observe among the patch reefs, plus sharks, sea turtles and rays.

 2) Fernando de Noronha

Take a trip 400 km offshore from Recife and explore a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Fernando de Noronha archipelago. This volcanic archipelago offers the best snorkeling in Brazil and has countless undisturbed snorkeling spots.

Famed for its clear waters and spectacular topography, Fernando de Noronha is made up of 21 islands that are home to seabirds, reptiles and abundant marine life – including spinner dolphins. It is a sanctuary for wildlife and a National Marine Park that offers exceptional scuba diving, surfing and snorkeling.

Fernando’s waters are extremely important as a breeding and feeding ground for tuna, sharks, sea turtles and marine mammals. Go snorkeling there and you have a good chance of encountering the resident dolphins and schools of pelagic fish.

There are caves, swim-throughs, tunnels and caverns dotted around the islands, with beautiful rock formations that host an array of reef fish. With lagoons and tidal pools as well, Fernando de Noronha is a must for any ocean fan.

3) Porto de Galinhas

Porto de Galinhas is a small coastal city an hour’s drive down the coast from Recife and has a long golden beach with reefs sitting just offshore. Simply step off the beach into the warm, azure waters and you’ll find lots of colorful fish and reef life.

The waters are shallow, clear and calm, making it perfect for snorkelers. There are also rock formations that have created snorkeling pools, with hot water around 28°C. This is a great place for novices to learn how to snorkel or try scuba diving for the first time.

4) Ilha Grande

The oceanic islands near Rio de Janeiro are a must for snorkelers. These islands attract diverse marine life and are the perfect place to spot and photograph numerous fish species, plus moray eels, rays, sea turtles, octopi, and visiting dolphins.

Ilha Grande is one of the most famous islands and has clear waters, forest trails, and excellent snorkeling. You can cruise around the island, dipping in and out of the water and exploring the soft, white-sand beaches all day long.

5) Regiao dos Lagos

Regiao dos Lagos in the state of Rio de Janeiro is a popular region that has some of the most famous beaches in Brazil. This area receives nutrient-rich, cold waters from the South Atlantic Ocean, attracting an array of different marine species. There are lobsters, sea turtles, friendly dolphins, pelagic fish, and rays in these rich waters.

Costa Azul is one of the most famous places there and is thought to have some of the best diving in Brazil, thanks to its many dive sites, plus dive centers that offer kit hire for all your snorkeling needs. There are numerous snorkeling spots and softy, sandy beaches with clear, shallow waters.

6) Abrolhos Archipelago

The Abrolhos archipelago is a group of five uninhabited islands off Brazil’s southern Bahia coast and is home to the Abrolhos Marine National Park. This unique park offers some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world and is famous for its rare coral formations.

The crystal-clear waters of the Abrolhos archipelago are home to the most extensive coral reefs in all of the South Atlantic Ocean and host around 19 coral species, including brain coral. These are some of the most interesting reefs in South America.

Many of these reefs are called ‘chapeiroes’ because they grow upwards in columns that resemble huge mushrooms. These unusual reefs host around 160 fish species and numerous sea turtles. The marine park is also known for its visiting humpback whales. Visit from July to November for the best chance of spotting these ocean giants.

7) Sao Paolo

Sao Paolo is Brazil’s largest city and is a dazzling cultural, architectural, and fashion center with iconic buildings and a great selection of museums. It is also home to the Laje de Santos Marine Park, a famous migratory route for manta rays.

Sao Paolo’s coast is dotted with multiple dive and snorkeling sites in the north and south, which can be reached with a short boat ride. The Laje de Santos Marine Park is the most popular place for divers and snorkelers in the area. As well as numerous visiting mantas and sea turtles, this marine park hosts pelagic fish, rocky-bottom fish, crustaceans and South Atlantic species.

For the best chance of encountering manta rays at Sao Paola, visit from March to September.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.

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