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Dive In
all well and good, except that I’m not really interested in ‘ugly’ fish
The
– what I get really excited about are the colourful fish you find in
and around shallow coral heads.

The numbers of stonefish and frogfish had genuinely excited my
guide, however, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that what had
Really good
thrilled me were the lionfish, anthias and glassy sweepers against a
colourful backdrop of corals and sponges - if only he had asked me
what I wanted to see prior to the dive. I guess this is the first quality
that goes into ‘exceptional,’ the ability to ask pertinent questions
about what the customer wants, listen to the answers and then go
Dive guide
out of their way to make their requests a reality.

The numbers of stonefish and frogfish had
Following on from his series on what makes a good dive guide, genuinely excited my guide, however, I didn’t
experienced underwater photo-journalist Brendan O’Brien looks
have the heart to tell him that what had
at what he believes marks out the good from the exceptional.
thrilled me were the lionfish, anthias and glassy
recently I joined a group of dive guides for a night out in hurghada sweepers against a colourful backdrop of corals
where unsurprisingly the conversation revolved around diving. We
and sponges - if only he had asked me what I
shared experiences and jokes before we got onto a subject that
stumped us all, ‘What qualities make for an exceptional dive guide?’
wanted to see prior to the dive.
We could all agree on the basics – excellent diving and rescue skills,
the ability to lead and risk assess dives, passion and enthusiasm, shortly after our first dive the guides started to plan for the second
and of course, the ability to work long hours for little financial – they discussed which sites were their favourites and then came to
recompense. But we still couldn’t agree on what qualities made for a decision. Their choice was a site they believed would please their
an exceptional dive guide. After much debate the best we could do customers and indeed it did. What would have made it exceptional
was, ‘The top tips you pick up along the way – the ones that aren’t in would have been a few simple questions about what type of dive
the training manuals.’ we wanted followed by providing a site that met these needs. I
know it’s not possible to please everyone, but the exceptional
That’s the thing about ‘exceptional’ – it’s a quality that’s hard to guides I’ve dived with in the past have always gone out of their way
describe but easy to spot when you experience it. Perhaps I’d find it to try.
on the next day’s diving.
My second dive was similar to the first with lots of ugly fish, but at
My guide for the day was really keen; his briefing was spot on and least I was spared the guide I saw in another group of divers – he
he helped me get my equipment on in a non-condescending way. looked bored and showed no interest in his group except to ensure
once underwater he put a lot of effort into finding things for me to they were following him.
see, which turned out to be most of the red sea’s ‘ugly’ fish. This was
Photo: Andrew slater
0 www.cdws.travel
Issue  october / November 2009
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