In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…
What is the name of your business?
The Fifth Point
What is your role within the business?
How long has the business operated for?
Coming up to 2 years.
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
I started diving in Hurghada way back in 2005 so I’ve been a diver for nearly 15 years. I qualified as an OWSI in 2010 and I’m currently a Master Instructor
What is your favourite type of diving?
It may seem a bit weird, but my favourite type of diving is litter picking! Every dive at The Fifth Point is a Dive Against Debris as we’re always picking up litter when we see it, but I love those days where we’ve organised a big clean up. Seeing the trash we’ve removed gives an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
When people walk into The Fifth Point for the first time, their initial reaction is always “wow, what an awesome set up!”. Our dive centre looks completely different to any other. It’s made from as much reclaimed materials as we could get our hands on and it has a really chilled out atmosphere.
Dive Dog Haldane always gives a warm welcome and our team are there to make your experience amazing. We’ve got an onsite training tank which means we can offer course schedules to suit even the busiest lifestyles and we always keep our sessions one to one.
Once you’re qualified, you join our army of eco-warriors. During our courses we arm you with all the skills you need to be an environmentally responsible scuba diver!
What is your favourite dive in your location and why?
My favourite dive in Northumberland has to be up at The Farnes. There’s a huge grey seal colony around the islands and when they come to play it’s an amazing experience. I never get bored of them! You’re more likely to see the seals in the autumn but diving The Farnes has a lot to offer all year round including deeper dives, wrecks, swim throughs and a striking underwater landscape.
We dive with our friends at Sovereign Diving. They’re awesome skippers and as divers themselves, they know all the sites inside out. They always take us to the best locations and give us detailed dive plans to make the most of our dives.
What types of diving are available in your location?
We are so lucky to have some cracking dive sites right on our doorstep. We regularly dive St Mary’s Island, Browns Bay and Collywell Bay which are only 15 minutes away from the dive centre. They’re teeming with life. A huge bonus is that The Farnes and our Project AWARE Adopted Dive Site at Beadnell’s Knacker Hole are less than an hour away. We can go and play with the seals whenever we want! Venturing a little bit further north, we can dive around Eyemouth. The boat dives to St Abbs are amazing, and the shore dives in the gullies are just as good! If I’m feeling a coral withdrawal, this is where I go!
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
We’re still a relatively new dive centre but I feel that we’ve created something really special. It’s so cool to watch new divers become so passionate about ocean protection. We’ve got a lot of youngsters coming through the ranks. My favourite thing is to go diving with the gang and help them pick up trash. They’re true advocates, educating everyone they meet and protecting their future. It’s just AWESOME.
What is your favourite underwater creature?
I love all underwater creatures. Well… apart from jellyfish, I don’t get on with them so well…
I think my favourite depends on where I am in the world. In the UK, it’s got to be the seals. They’re so curious and playful. I love nudis too, especially the look on peoples faces when we point them out in the North Sea! Divers only expect to find them in warm waters!
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
As the first PADI Green Star dive centre in the UK, we’ve recently launched a whole new set of environmentally focused courses. Our PADI Open Water courses now include the Project AWARE Specialty as standard, and our Advanced courses include the Dive Against Debris Specialty.
We’ve got something top secret planned for the training tank. I don’t think it’s been done anywhere in the world yet, so my lips are sealed!
As a centre what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
One of the biggest problems is when we see student divers from other centres in washed out, sun faded, second hand equipment. It’s so old, it belongs in a museum! It’s not doing much to promote our awesome sport to the younger generation. We must be careful that scuba diving doesn’t get left behind. Especially when compared to other activities like stand-up paddle boarding, surfing and rock climbing which are so trendy right now.
Is your centre involved in any environmental work?
Heavily! Our whole business revolves around protecting the ocean. Alongside our regular Dive Against Debris surveys, we also conduct monthly beach cleans. Since 2016, our volunteers have removed over 1,800kg of trash from the Northumberland coastline.
We are a no take, no touch dive centre. We’re proud that our divers will never remove marine life or wreck artefacts. We are one of the very few dive centres in the UK that will never take lobsters. In fact, we help to put them back! We work with our local lobster hatchery at Northumberland Seafoods in Amble to release baby lobsters back into the sea, bolstering local populations.
We recently received the PADI Green Star Award in recognition of our dedication to environmental conservation. We are the first and only Green Star Dive Centre in the UK, and one of only nine in the world.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkelling industry overall? What changes would you make?
It’s exciting! There are so many opportunities available to dive centres, we just have to make the most of them.
The Blue Planet Effect rippling out from Attenborough’s series has inspired so many potential underwater explorers. The next generation are looking to get involved in these activities to do their bit to help protect the environment for their future.
As an industry, we should embrace this and encourage ocean protection at every opportunity.
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
We’re always looking for divers to join our army of eco-warriors. If you, or anyone you know would like to get involved with the leaders of ocean protection, then just get in touch!
We run regular boat trips to The Farne Islands and St Abbs. Even if you’re not local to us, we’d still love to take you diving!
You are more than welcome to call in at the dive centre and check us out. The kettle is always on!
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
Minke whale spotted off Cardigan Bay – A first in 10 years!
In a thrilling encounter that left a team of marine researchers in awe, a majestic minke whale was sighted during a line transect survey on June 15, 2023. The remarkable event took place approximately 10 nautical miles off the coast of Cardigan Bay, amidst an area teeming with shearwaters. The whale’s behavior, as observed by Katrin Lohrengel, Sea Watch’s Monitoring Officer, indicated potential foraging activities, as it gracefully engaged in deep dives.
This exceptional sighting is the first documented instance of a minke whale in the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) since 2013, during one of Sea Watch Foundation’s line transect surveys. The significance of this encounter cannot be overstated, as it underscores the importance of continuous scientific efforts in studying and conserving the abundant marine biodiversity of this region. Notably, this is the first minke whale sighting in a decade within the Cardigan SAC, with sightings being more prevalent further down in Pembrokeshire. Additionally, another minke whale was sighted the following day, June 16, 2023, 11 nautical miles off the Llyn Peninsula during a separate survey conducted by Professor Peter GH Evans, Director of the Sea Watch Foundation.
Line-transect surveys play a pivotal role in Sea Watch’s research, providing invaluable data on the presence, abundance, and distribution of marine species in their natural habitats. The sighting of a minke whale further emphasizes the ecological significance of the Cardigan Bay SAC, highlighting the urgent need for sustained conservation efforts to safeguard this vital marine environment.
Renowned for their agility and inquisitive nature, minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) captivate with their smaller size compared to other baleen whales. These graceful creatures embark on deep dives, skillfully hunting for their preferred prey, including fish and krill.
The sighting of the minke whale stands as a testament to the effectiveness of the team’s research methodologies and their unwavering dedication. Moreover, it serves as a beacon of hope for future discoveries that can contribute to the ongoing conservation endeavors in the Cardigan Bay SAC.
As Sea Watch celebrate this momentous milestone, they reaffirm their commitment to expanding our understanding of marine ecosystems and advocating for the protection of vulnerable species. The team extends our heartfelt gratitude to the local community, volunteers, and stakeholders whose unwavering support has made sightings like this possible.
About Sea Watch:
Sea Watch is a leading marine research organization dedicated to the study and conservation of marine mammals in the United Kingdom. Through scientific research, education, and advocacy, Sea Watch strives to protect and preserve our marine ecosystems for future generations.
For more information, please visit www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk.
Pictured: Minke whale sighting off Cardigan Bay by Katrin Lohrengel/Monitoring Officer at Sea Watch Foundation on 15 June 2023.
New year, new dive centre: Duttons to open on Anglesey in January 2023
Duttons Divers, who have recently announced a new hard boat to join their growing fleet over on the Llyn Peninsula based at Hafan Marina Dive Centre and a second dive centre that opened in January this year, have another big announcement to end the year on!
It seems that there’s just no stopping the Duttons Divers team as they announce their third dive centre opening – this time on Anglesey!
The dive centre will be open from January 2023, and is based just off the A55 at Llangefni Services, offering ease of access from all over the island and to those visiting for the day who will be passing by on their way to dive.
The centre will offer a fully stocked shop with all major brands, as well as a classroom and meeting place for teaching and briefings for the day’s guided dives around the island, equipment servicing and air fills – perfectly located to get your fills on your way too or from sites all over the island.
Owner Clare Dutton says: “We are extremely excited to announce the new centre. We have looked at Anglesey for a while, but the perfect place just did not come up until now. We wanted somewhere central that has easy access for divers to visit.”
If you would like to find out more about the new site, go to their website www.duttonsdivers.com