SCUBA News 281
(ISSN 1476-8011)

SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011)
Issue 281 - December 2023

Welcome to SCUBA News - our Complements of the Season to you.

What's New at SCUBA Travel?

Hairy squat lobster in in Anilao, Philippines

Fabulous Philippines

The water's always warm, the sea life is amazing and in Coron there are some marvellous wreck dives.

Diver and wreck

Don't forget the diving insurance

Planning a diving holiday next year? Make sure your insurance covers diving to the correct depth.

Painted anemones grip the rocks and collect food flowing with the rapid currents.

Diving into the World's fastest tidal rapids

Imagine this: a channel so narrow and shallow that a single tide can unleash an astonishing 200 billion gallons of water, creating a tumultuous display of standing waves, whirlpools, and currents surging at 16 knots (18 mph or 30 kph).

8 Great Liveaboard Deals for 2024 - Save up to $800

We bring you news of some fantastic dive boat deals in 2024, specially selected for us by, the liveaboard specialists. Including 7, 10 and 14` night trips.

  1. Philippine Siren, Malapascua and The Visayas, 217 - 27 July 2024 (10 nights), SAVE UP TO 30%, Price from USD 4,100 2,870 per trip per person
  2. Blue Manta, Komodo, Indonesia, 4 June 2024 (6 nights), from USD 2,430 USD 2,700,
  3. Scubaspa Yin, Best of Maldives, 30 Dec - 06 Jan 2024 (7 nights), SAVE 20%, Price from USD 3,565 2,852 per trip per person
  4. Blue Storm, Southern Egyptian Red Sea, January to May 2024 (7 nights), SAVE 10%, Price from EUR 1,350 1,215 per trip per person
    Save on liveaboard trips
  5. Royal Evolution, Egypt/Sudan Border SAVE 10% throughout 2024. Price from GBP 1129 per trip per person.
    Save on all 2024 trips
    Escape the crowds with this liveaboard to the little dived Elba reef plus Elphinstone and St Johns. Or choose the Northern wrecks trip.
  6. Alia, Djibouti Wonders, 06 - 13 Jan and 27 Jan - 03 Feb 2024 (7 nights), SAVE Euro 400, Price from EUR 1,800 1,400 per trip per person
  7. Bahamas Master, 7, 10 or 14 nights, SAVE 20%, between January and May
  8. Tiburon Explorer Liveaboard, The Galapagos, SAVE $800 between January and April 2024

9 Fascinating Facts about Christmas Tree Worms

A seasonal "Creature of the Month" today - the beautiful Christmas Tree Worm.

1. They can live to over 40 years old

Christmas Tree worms are long-lived, although pollution and climate change can reduce their lifespan.

Christmas tree worm
Christmas tree worm. John A. Anderson/DepositPhotos

2. Two Christmas Trees are actually One Worm

Each worm has two crowns or Christmas Trees. The worms come in a myriad of colours, but a worm's two crowns are always the same colour.

Christmas Tree Worm in the Red SEa
Christmas Tree Worm in the Red Sea. Jill Studholme

3. They breath using their Christmas Trees

As well as being important for respiration, the feathery trees also waft food down to the mouth.

Christmas tree worm close up

Close up to Christmas in Bonaire. John A. Anderson/DepositPhotos

4. They are very choosy where they live

Different species of Christmas Tree Worms are very selective where they live. The larger ones often choosing a specific species of coral. Smaller species might also choose artificial substrates as their home.

Boracay Island Philippines. PauloViolas/DepositPhotos

5. They protect the coral

The worms are important for the health of coral reefs and help protect corals from invasive sea stars whilst also preventing the coral being overgrown with algae.

John A. Anderson/DepositPhotos

6. At sign of danger they whisk down into the coral

On sensing danger, the worm quickly retracts its crown into its tube in the coral and closes the entrance with a trapdoor called an operculum. It will stay down there for about a minute, before re-emerging very slowly to check that the danger has gone.

Christmas Tree Worm, Spirobranchus giganteus

Red Sea Christmas Tree Worm, by Jill Studholme

7. Some are male and some are female

There are both male and female Christmas tree worms.

Christmas Tree Worm by Tim Nicholson of SCUBA Travel

Christmas Tree Worm by Tim Nicholson

8. They live all around the world in tropical seas

They're easy to find and very photogenic, making them great subjects for macro photography. As long as you have the patience to wait and not disturb them into shooting back into their tubes. You might see them down to depths of 30 m.

Christmas Tree Worm in Solomon Islands. Carol Buchanan/DepositPhotos

9. There are several species

Although often identified as Spirobranchus giganteus, there are several different species. S. giganteus lives in the Caribbean. In the Indo-Pacific S. corniculatus and other species take over.

Christmas Tree Worm on a night dive. Photo: Kelpfish/DepositPhotos

References and Further Reading

Eijiroh Nishi, Moritaka Nishihira. Age-estimation of the Christmas Tree Worm Spirobranchus giganteus (Pomlychaeta, Serpulidae) Living Buried in the Coral Skeleton from the Coral-growth Band of the Host Coral.

Perry et al. Substrate selection of Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus spp.) in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea

Christmas Tree Worm in Curacao. Martin Hablützel/DepositPhotos
Christmas Tree Worm in Curacao. Martin Hablutzel/DepositPhotos

Diving news from around the World


Ocean around Bermuda warmer and more acidic than ever, 40 years of observation show
The ocean has warmed by about 1 degree C, increased in salinity and decreased in oxygen. Furthermore, acidity has increased by over 30%.

Spanish Galleon

Divers map 2-mile trail of relics and treasure from legendary shipwreck
The scattered trail of artifacts and treasure stretches for more than two miles in the Bahamas, which for centuries have drawn archeologists and adventurers searching for the Maravillas.

Birds on a tropical beach

Birds are unlikely helpers for tropical coral reefs facing climate change threat
Study finds that the presence of seabirds on islands adjacent to tropical coral reefs can boost coral growth rates on those reefs by more than double.

Mother and dolphine calf

To build a better world, stop chasing economic growth
The year 2024 must be a turning point for shifting policies away from gross domestic product and towards sustainable well-being. Here's why and how.


Dolphins have a feel for electric fields
Bottlenose dolphins can detect weak electric fields, which helps them to find prey buried in the sand and avoid predators

Before and after

England's only bottlenose dolphins at risk
England's only resident bottlenose dolphin pod is at risk from human activity and environmental factors.

Underwater sculptures

Underwater sculptures created in the Caribbean
25 life-size sculptures have been life-cast from members of the local community in Grenada.


Deep-sea mining threatens jellyfish, suggests first-of-its-kind study
Sediment dislodged by ocean-floor mining could disrupt jellyfish metabolism, potentially causing the animals serious harm.

Disabled diver

Diving for All: A New Wave in Resort Accessibility
It's never been easy for people with disabilities to learn to dive. But the tide is turning, and there's a splash of good news: the UK boasts three dive resorts certified to offer adaptive services. But hey, why stop there? More resorts can dive into action and revamp their spaces to welcome divers of all abilities, from designing user-friendly facilities to rolling out services for a diverse clientele.

SCUBA News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. This means we are happy for you to reuse our material for both commercial and non-commercial use as long as you: credit the name of the author, link back to the SCUBA Travel website and say if you have made any changes. Most photos though, are copyright the photographer. Please get in touch for details.

Photo credits: Daniel Lamborn/DepositPhotos, Nirupam Nigam, Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme

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