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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
08 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
08 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
08 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
08 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Vilnius
By Berta Tilmantaite
08 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
07 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
06 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
06 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
06 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Edgaras Matakas
Kaunas
By Berta Tilmantaite
05 Jul 2016

Paralympian Edgaras Matakas is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.

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Snorkeling
Siquijor Island
By Ralf Falbe
30 Jan 2015

Girl snorkeling at Siquijor Island in the Philippines.

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Diving Apo Island
Apo Island
By Ralf Falbe
23 Jan 2015

Diving the famous reef of Apo Island, Philippines.

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Snorkeling
Apo Island
By Ralf Falbe
22 Jan 2015

Snorkeling at Apo Island in the Philippines.

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Honduras' Blood Lobsters
Kawkira
By Carsten Snejbjerg
08 Oct 2014

On the outermost point of Honduras’ peninsula between the Caratasca lagoon and the Caribbean Ocean, lies the small town Kawkira. It is there, in the most far-out areas of Honduras, that the Misquito Indians have lived off of lobster diving for decades. Today, America’s growing demand for the sea creatures causes them to dive deeper and more often. Many risk their lives diving only with the most basic and outdated equipment.

With no roads leading to Kawkira, the only method of access is by boat. Taywar Thomson lives here with his family of eight. At 23 years of age, Taywar is a diver just like his father Don Moises was before a diving accident left him permanently handicapped at the age of 60. Despite his father’s accident and the many accidents he has experienced himself, the lack of other ways to make a living forces Taywar back to the diving boats day after day.

Like many others, Taywar has suffered from decompression sickness and gets intermittent shooting pains in his shoulder. He has run out of air 35 meters under the surface several times, dropping his catch to resurface without any decompression. This maneuver is known to be highly dangerous and even deadly in the diving world, where surfacing without decompression is normally strictly forbidden if divers are deeper than 18 meters. With 35 lobster boats, Honduras has the biggest fleet in the region, each boat holding dozens of divers and often exceeding their capacity. Also boarding the boats are personal helpers, called a cayoqueros, who look out for bubbles and follow the divers into the open sea.

Lobster divers often leave on expeditions of up to 14 days, using between 12 to 20 tanks a day and diving as deep as 50 meters at times. The combination of such deep and frequent dives is a sharp aberration from normal diving procedure. Most dive without any safety equipment and can experience jammed regulators while under water, while others, like Taywar, suffer from decompression sickness leading to daily joint pain and difficulty breathing. Diving is even more dangerous for a population where drug and marijuana use is on the rise. At least 23 divers died in 2013, while about 1500 divers have been handicapped in recent years.

Despite such hazards, these men continually venture out to sea to earn approximately seven dollars per kilo of lobster. However, they are only paid for the weight of the tails. 90% of the lobsters are exported to the USA, where demand continues to increase.

Part of a Central America-wide agreement, lobster diving was banned in 2013. Though Honduras was one of the countries that agreed on paper, 75 % of the economy on the north coast still thrives off of lobster diving.

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Freediving kas turkey 01
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
30 Sep 2014

Kaputas beach is one of Kas' main tourist attractions due to the colour of its beautiful warm water and pleasant sandy beach.

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Underwater High: Turkey's Female Free...
Kas
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Kas, Turkey
September 29, 2014

As a child Sahika Ercumen had acute asthma. Her breathing difficulties were so bad that until age twelve she couldn’t do any physical activities and spent most of her time sat at home. Determined to confront her illness she went to her local swimming club and jumped into the water.

To everyone’s surprise Sahika was a natural swimmer. Like many young girls she had imagined life as a mermaid and her newfound love for water ultimately changed her life. “I felt I was diving in another world, in a dream world. It was so relaxing, so nice underwater. I hadn’t played sports until I was 12 years-old because of a sickness, so it was really a miracle for me.”

The swimming coach asked her to hold her breath and swim underwater. In her first attempt she out performed the club professionals and knew she wanted to dedicate her life to the sport. Through intense training, her physical strength improved, as did her immune system, until she was no longer affected by her asthma.

Sahika is now the leading female free diver with six world records including the women’s deepest return dive on a single breath – an astonishing 91 meters.

Sahika also now trains and mentors aspiring new freedivers in workshops in the Turkish coastal town of Kas.

Freediving is an extreme sport in which participants swim for long distances underwater to exceptional depths, or for long periods of time, on a single breath without the use of scuba gear. Unsurprisingly it requires great physical and mental strength as Sahika explains, “After 20-30 meters your lungs are the size of a football, as the pressure increases they get smaller and smaller. By 30-40 meters your lungs are like tennis balls… Your veins too are getting smaller and your heart rate drops. The blood circulation moves to only your heart, brain and vital organs – there’s a big change [to your body].”

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Freediving kas turkey 07
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Free Diving world record holder Sahika Ercumen during a training dive in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Free Diving record holder Sahika Ercumen surfaces after a training dive out at sea near Kas in Antalya, Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 12
Kas
By Mark_Esplin
28 Sep 2014

Free dive enthusiasts check out the action below as they wait their turn to dive during a workshop lead by Sahika Ercumen.

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Freediving kas turkey 02
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Free Diving world record holder Sahika Ercumen leads a breathing workshop in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

A student relaxes during a yoga session as part of a free diving workshop lead by Sahika Ercumen in Kas, Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 04
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Sahika Ercumen teaches breathing exercises during a free diving workshop in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 05
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

A student laughs during a breathing workshop lead by free diving record holder Sahika Ercumen in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 06
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Though well known throughout Turkey, Kas remains less popular with foreign tourists than the near-by towns of Bodrum and Antalya city.

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Freediving kas turkey 11
Kas
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Sahika Ercumen instructs students during a breathing workshop in Kas, Southern turkey.

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Libya's Rebirth 12
Tripoli, Libya
By Monique Jaques
09 Jul 2012

Boys escape the summer heat by diving into the ocean in downtown Tripoli on July 1, 2012.

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Libya (40 of 40)
Misrata, Libya
By George Henton
13 Jun 2011

A rebel fighter relaxes by diving into the Mediterranean at a beach in the area of Al Jazeera, to the west of Misrata, Libya, 03 June 2011. Many coastal resorts, used previously by civilians and military forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, were now being used as staging areas and places of relaxation for rebel fighters. GEORGE HENTON.