The podcast for the inquisitive diver

Don Silcock meets Southern Right Whale, El Blanco


Don Silcock, Senior travel editor of Scuba Diver magazine, owner of Indo Pacific Images and my good mate joins me in the studio for a long overdue catch-up, a good yarn and a couple of beers. Amongst the many topics we cover, Don appraises us of his moments in the water with Southern Right Whales, meeting El Blanco, the elation of the experience and also the fears!

Join me as we discuss Don’s travels and many other topics;

  • travelling through India by motorcycle,
  • collecting photogrammetry images in Papua New Guinea with Sean Twomey, supported by lissenung Island Resort,
  • South Australia – sharks and cuttlefish,
  • Tasmania in search of handfish and DEEP corals,
  • Mexico to dive with crocodiles and enter the Cenotes
  • Patagonia to dive with Southern Write Whales
  • did I mention – El BLANCO!!
  • Camera equipment
  • Yucatan chaos
  • International flights
  • Raja Ampat – Sorido Bay Resort and interviews with Max Ammer

This episode is simply STACKED and not one to miss.  Don goes into detail about the political complexities/ authorisations required to be able to dive in Patagonia with the Southern Right Whales.  He also gives a full breakdown of some heart-pounding moments and close calls with a 5-ton calf.


White southern right whale, ©Indopacificimages, Don Silcock. Not for commercial use.



And then there is El Blanco!!




Don is on form as ever and an absolute encyclopedia of information, so pin your ears back and dive in to hear about many locations that you may recognise and many that may also be new to you. For more information on many of the topics we’ve covered today head on over to and for those interested in the Scuba Diver Magazine you can subscribe for ass little as $3 per month or hunt a copy down in your local dive shop.

Guest Social links

Don silcock on FB Don Silcock on IG

Show transcript


Don Silcock, Matt Waters


Matt Waters  00:06

Hey, there dive buddies and welcome to episode three of season four. We’ve got the old and bold back with us he’s not been around for a while he’s travelling all the time. Senior travel editor for Scuba diver magazine. My good buddy with a beer in hand Don Silcock Don G’day mate.


Don Silcock  00:26

Good to be back I like you said I’ve been doing a bit of travelling and well it’s good to catch up and she had a beer with you here in


Matt Waters  00:37

Sydney Sydney it’s been that long way it seems like you’ve got younger and I’ve got older


Don Silcock  00:43

I wish I wish


Matt Waters  00:49

I think when was the last time we recorded it must have been when we with Jane?


Don Silcock  00:53

Yeah, it was I think was early June I’d done my first trip post COVID which was going to to retire in the Philippines and then I was back in Sydney for a week before I went to India on pursuing my other expert expensive hobby of adventure motorcycling I did a month in the Indian Himalayas from Ladakh area and and it’ll replace collars downscale Valley, which is really remote. It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. And yeah, that was a really adventure. I was convinced I was gonna get COVID But I didn’t Well, you know, the nobody was wearing masks and social distancing is an oxymoron. You know, there’s lots of people in India and I was just convinced that this is it I’m gonna get it but I didn’t survived and, and yeah, so and then I got back into the diving really, I’ve been out on a few trips and and I’ve got a busy 23 coming up, which I’m really looking forward to


Matt Waters  01:48

May I thought that that motorcycle trip in India sought the COVID I thought you’re gonna go off the side of a fucking cliff or something looking at those photos you’re putting,


Don Silcock  01:56

I nearly did accomplish that. There was a couple of moments where I thought you know, I hope my wife can find the insurance policy because it was have you been given in the once you get above what’s called a tree line. It’s just like granite and there’s no vegetation and the rolls are hewn into the side of the mountains. There’s no Armco barriers, you know, a few places that it is but most of the time there’s nothing so have you got to be really really careful hypersensitive as to what you’re doing. But it jams the concentration shall we say? And yeah, it’s been it’s an interesting place into even I’ve been there many times and never ceases to amaze me. What bikes was right Enfield’s the made in India and yeah, they’re ideally suited for that, although it’s a little bit agricultural and digital, you’re either on or off. Very little in between. And so it’s it was interesting, real adventure. I really enjoyed it apart from on the way back they lost my bag, and actually a week to get it back. So yeah,


Matt Waters  03:08

when you’re doing the trip from our far is it for starters, how long does it


Don Silcock  03:13

how long it’s a day’s ride every day? Depends what you’re doing the longest you do if you’re on a decent highway and you’ve got you know, maybe you’ll do I think the longest I’ve done in one day was about 500 kilometres. But typically if you’re up in the mountains, I mean if you do 100 kilometres on those roads, you know about it, you know, it’s it’s wild, you know, and of course is once you get to a certain point, there’s no there’s no hotels or anything. It’s all homestays, and that was the, in the Zanskar Valley one place we stayed was is quite the most basic I’ve ever stayed anywhere. They the guy with the toilet was it was a black hole in a black hole. And you had to be very careful at night when you went for a pee. Yeah, so that was quite fun. The bathroom I literally had a shower in the lane at the side of the house and to the amusement of all the walk past. But yeah, it was it was an interesting adventure. Just what you needed after COVID they just completely opposite have been locked down here in Sydney. Freedom Yeah, really cool.


Matt Waters  04:26

I just got on with the food because you know you instantly think of Delhi Belly.


Don Silcock  04:30

You are sat in the same room as the only Caucasian who goes to India and comes back constipated. I don’t know why. I think it’s because I’m a vegetarian. Yeah, I don’t. Everybody travelled with us got really sick in India, which they’re all well meat eaters. And I’m not so I think that’s what it is. But you know, I drink Chai at the side of the road. I don’t eat street food much anyway, but I’ve never I’ve never had it i Yeah, and if anything?


Matt Waters  05:03

I don’t know. You know what that is about? They’re making it look like cauliflower. But it was maybe brick dust.


Don Silcock  05:10

Maybe it’s the bay. Maybe it’s a kingfisher? I don’t know. But anyway, yeah, so I survived. And I did come up once I was on the right side of the band, they would have come up on the other side of the band. I could have been over the side, which was a bit of a worry, but didn’t do much damage to either the bike on myself and but yeah, it was it was a real adventure and just the, you know, it’d be just like, flushed the whole thing of COVID and the pandemic out my system.


Matt Waters  05:38

Yeah. And then you run for a week or two.


Don Silcock  05:42

Yeah. Yeah, when I came back, I was back for about a week down here and then went down to South Australia to do the coefficient by Allah and then the diver port used jetty, which is on the other side of this fence. The girl has really interested in those jetties in South Australia, the national treasures, you know,


Matt Waters  06:02

what’s it the port who’s Jetty because obviously, I’m a witch spoken last week or whatever, because I’m looking at going that’s a while here with the message. Port us.


Don Silcock  06:10

So that’s that basically, it’s the other side of the Spencer golf a bit north, further north. But the other side, the eastern side of Spencer go from why Allah. And the thing with the jetties in South Australia, there’s lots of them. But it depends where they are, and also depends on the structure. So for example, Ed Berg that we spoke about the other day, it’s a fantastic site. But the thing about the jetty there is it’s quite wide, and it’s quite, not particularly tall. So there’s the sun doesn’t get underneath it much. So you get all the sponges and filter feeders on there, which are incredibly colourful and all the rest of it. And then down at save rapid Bay, the jetty day is quite high. So you get a different ecosystem. So what’s interesting about port use is it’s not very high, but it’s not very wide. And so it’s a completely to what I’ve seen anyway is a different, completely different ecosystem than all the other jetters have died down there. Okay, so we had, we had three or four days there. And it was really good. I really enjoyed it. The only problem we bought us is you can’t get any fills there. You’ve got to go drag down to a depot, which is like an hour and a half, two hours drive to get your tank filled. Yeah. But it’s worth it’s somewhere. It’s another one of those interested in South Australian locations. Well worth it.


Matt Waters  07:32

And while those people that probably might not have listened to your previous podcast, while the cuttlefish sex show,


Don Silcock  07:42

The Greatest Show on Earth. It’s why ello is that was my seventh trip to Ireland. Really? Yeah, last year, seven times. That’s how good it is. Right. And it’s it’s a unique event. Nobody is aware anyway, of anything similar. So come May when the temperature drops to around about 17. It’s that’s a trigger. And cuttlefish aggregation for mating are quite common all around Southern Australia, but it’s typically groups of like 10 to 15 of the Giant Australian catfish, I’ll be a CPA diploma. And the debating is kind of interesting itself because the the V males are what they call polyandrous. Which basically means spectacularly promiscuous that they have sex with multiple partners, and it’s all part of I guess, genetic diversity. But the they it’s unbelievable. And then the the older cuttlefish, we’re about 18 months old. This is our last throw the dice. So the very incense on I don’t know what 18 months old. Yeah, there’s so there’s, there’s like two general populations, there’s a younger population, which is so the males are about six months old, a bit, you know, still a bit juvenile and they got the big bull males, which are 18 months old, and will be dead at the end of the season. Whether they know they’re gonna die or not. I don’t know, but they certainly act like they do because they’re determined to get as much sex as they can. Before they go, you know, you can relate to that. You can relate to it I can anyway. But anyway, the point is, it’s it’s just it’s an intense battle for the favours of the females which are outnumbered about eight to 10 to one by the males. So there’s an endless supply of males all fixated on one thing. You’ve got this polyandry going on, and it just went about nine o’clock in the morning till about six o’clock in the evening. It’s just sex going on all but the thing is, in an area about one square kilometre in ya Allah or something like 100 250,000 of these cuttlefish, it’s the only event of that size that’s known everywhere else, it’s 1015. And the reason is because of the conditions that it’s sheltered the substrate is perfect for putting the eggs. And you know, it just happens there. Nobody else. As far as anybody is aware. There’s no other event like it. Like when you talk to the guys there, the local diners who I know quite well, now, they just thought that was normal. You know, they’ve been down there for years, and they thought it was all kind of No, it’s not extremely unusual. And it’s this annual event. It starts around about the middle of May, when the temperature drops by the early June. It’s going full on July, it’s starting to petered off in August. It’s all done. But every year


Matt Waters  11:01

and it’s does it get absolutely heaving with divers?


Don Silcock  11:05

Yeah, over the weekends get busy. And the there’s a couple of like the Queen’s Birthday, that’s a store. But that week, long weekend there that gets really, really, really busy. But if you’re there during the week, which I normally go during the week, and do like about five days by Friday, sketch that into fill up.


Matt Waters  11:28

I think we’re planning to do that really, really, really busy weekend. But the the section that we’re going to do it while there will be the Thursday, Friday and the Saturday and then we’re bugger off to eat if


Don Silcock  11:39

that’s a good idea. Yeah. And if it’s everybody goes to the fence line, which is where they there’s like a nice toilet block there. And, you know, it’s the local council doing a good job of all that. And that’s where most people go. But you can just follow that there’s like a dirt road that goes all the way around. And these other spots along the way you can get in and you’ll have it to yourself more or less.


Matt Waters  12:00

Gotcha. So we’re taking like a beach buggy with a little beach trolley or something, take all the equipment and


Don Silcock  12:06

like you just get off on the side of the road. And you know, you can get down this path where you can get down onto the onto the beach. Okay, little places where you just got to go down the steps and


Matt Waters  12:17

get to the bottom like and that’s my tip pony.


Don Silcock  12:19

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s and it’s like, oh, rocky beach. So you’ve got to be careful getting in now and all the rest of it. But yeah, it’s well worth it. A unique event.


Matt Waters  12:34

But then I suppose with it being relatively shallow and it’s called a water so you know, one tanks going to be enough for


Don Silcock  12:39

oh, yeah, I normally go out for the day with two tanks. But by the end of the because you can be in there for like, two hours on a dive. Yeah. So it’s usually your bladder that brings you out diving. You’re not gonna dry sit down because it’s cold. And you’re only in about eight metres of water. There’s no There’s no daddy’s concern or anything. He’s really shallow. I mean that the you do get great whites out in the Spencer golf. North. The topless men’s golf is supposed to be a breeding area, you know, it’s like, fortunately a nursery up there. Yeah, for great whites. Yeah. But it’s too shallow for them to come in around the around the Point Lowly where, where, you know, they obligation is I’ve never seen anything down there. You know, and I know, the local guy will say now you know, you don’t get anything around here. You’re not


Matt Waters  13:34

going to be expected any food in that kind of area. Hopefully. I’ll be happy to the cuttlefish get them the big bowls.


Don Silcock  13:42

There. It’s almost a metre long the the really big ones, you know, yeah, the big and the, because they’re so intent on the way it works is they they gather the females and they hide him in the in the seagrass below them, right? And then they sort of making sure that the other males don’t come in, right. And then when they can, then they’ll, you know, couple open away they go. Like a man possessed and


Matt Waters  14:10

like a nightclub Tyler


Don Silcock  14:14

reminiscent. I used to go in my teens called the Challenger rajim. Anyway, I digress. So the the, when all this is happening, they don’t care that you’re there. So you can get as close as I am to this mic here. You know, and occasionally they’ll you’ll just be under flare at you. The big bowls of flare at you.


Matt Waters  14:39

Is that because they might be shooting themselves in the in the dome, possibly, but


Don Silcock  14:42

it’s, I don’t know. I don’t know. But it’s when you know, but all the times I’ve been down there I’ve you know, I’ve never been attacked by one or anything, you know, I’m just a nuisance. It’s like, can’t you see I’m busy? And I know you shouldn’t you know put human characteristics on another No more. But you know, when you sit there watching them and the way all goes off, you know, you can relate to the circumstance. Yeah. Especially as an older male like myself, you know, it’s it’s unique. It’s, it’s really special. And you know, when you see it all unfolding before you and you see the personalities and you see what’s going on, I mean, the sneakers, the funniest ones that so these are the young males that the couple of ish, there’s no way of telling a male from a female, right apart from the big balls, they’re obviously a male, but the buyers they single to each other with all the fantastic patents, right? So you got you can’t physically physically tell a small female with against a small male they look they look the same. Yeah, right. They single to each other, right. So the small males pretend to be females, and kind of sneak in and the big bulls shove them down there the seagrass and while he’s you know, and the next thing the young male and the female are going at it and I think gets irate. And you’re in right in the monster when I was just happening. It’s really spectacular thing really very interesting. You know, from a, you know, from being it’s unusual to be able to get that closer with animals and they don’t care.


Matt Waters  16:25

Yeah, yeah. Well, like so got one thing on the mind. Yeah, it’s,


Don Silcock  16:28

it’s, you can relate to the situation.


Matt Waters  16:35

And what was the phrase like then because


Don Silcock  16:37

if there is, some days, it will be fantastic. Other days, it will be murky, you know, but then, on the best days, when it’s clear, you’ll get like, beautiful, like streaming down. Late afternoon is good early morning, it’s good weather, you know, depending on the sun comes up, we hate your face in north, so it will come up in the east and it’s shiny down in one way, middle of the day, it’s coming back down, so it’s not so nice. But then in the afternoon, when you get ready to get some nice light there, and it’s


Matt Waters  17:10

spectacular. And what lens are you using on that because


Don Silcock  17:13

so I’m using the wide angle conversion ball, naughty camera thing that I’ve got. So that’s equivalent to 14 degrees. So it’s like really super wide, because you can get really enclosed. And when you get a group of them there’ll be sometimes they’ll be like the big ball, two or three females and then you’ve got the the other males sneaking up in the background. You know, they’d like you know, they’re looking for an angle to get in, right? So you can get within close and it breaks really wide. So the rectilinear effect you get with the WAC fee is really cool for that. So ws CP, a wide angle conversion port. So it’s an RT cam pioneered these water contact ops optics, whereby, you know, if you’re using a wide angle lens underwater, most people go with a fisheye lens, right? Because it’s nicely sharp on the corners, but you get that fisheye warping effect, which in certain circumstances doesn’t matter. Others it stands out. Posts are like rectilinear because you don’t get that but the thing is, because you’re using a dorm, the dorm creates a virtual image and you’re focusing on that virtual image. You don’t get sharp corners. That’s just a function of optics are underwater, you’re using the dome as a virtual lens. Basically, what the WAC P does it uses the all the optical formers if you like to the physics basically and they’ve engineered a wall to contact optic, so he corrects everything okay, and you get sharp corners and you get really really really excellent piece of kit. expensive and it’s heavy it’s a pain in the ass to travel with the carry and I’m trying to get in the water with it in ya Allah You know, I mean the thing weighs three kilos by itself. It’s full of optical glass. Yeah, it does. So it’s big and it’s heavy. You put everything together my my camera weighs about 16 kilos get out of it. Yeah, getting in the water. So you’ve got a dry suit with all your weight. All that shit. You know, I need to get into with this.


Matt Waters  19:26

And you’re only a little fella. 30 a bodyweight?


Don Silcock  19:30

Hello. That’s what I call the gym. So anyway, so that’s what I use and the results are really nice. Intriguing.


Matt Waters  19:42

Yeah, they kind of showed me your images.


Don Silcock  19:44

Yeah, I mean, you know, you get what you pay for and it’s it’s an expensive proposition and using one of those who pays but the you know what, when you get the opportunity to get that image that’s why shield limited shield really glad that you got it. I use it in Argentina with the Southern Right whales a unique experience there, which I’ll talk about in a minute. But the question is, you


Matt Waters  20:11

know, let’s, let’s talk about this right now because this is another one of your trips


Don Silcock  20:15

from Yeah, so after after South Australia, I went to South America. So I was doing the crocodiles, American crocodiles and Chinchorro in Mexico, and then a couple of days where I did the Sunoco tests for the first time. I got guy to take me in. And then I went down to Argentina to the saga, we talk about the crocodiles first. Let’s do it so you don’t get lost. Well, that was that was uh, have you heard of Chinchorro? It’s yeah, I


Matt Waters  20:47

made the works there. Oh, really? Yeah. I don’t think he’s on the he wasn’t on the same dive shop that you went with.


Don Silcock  20:53

There’s only one next dc must be then it South African guy.


Matt Waters  20:57

No. Let me pull up what he I’ll show you a photo. That’s probably the easiest


Don Silcock  21:02

way looking at it my second trip. And you stay out on the fisherman’s shorts out up Chinchorro Banco? Chinchorro. Yeah. And basically, there’s only one operators that are licenced to do it. And they were in a ship fight with the conservation police camp, the Mexican conservation people. And when we got there, we had one really good day, fantastic conditions. And next thing the the cannon people turned up with soldiers, machine guns and made it very clear that if we got into water, we’d have some really big problems. Right. So politics between the dive centre, I believe, it’s been resolved now. But it all came to a head when we were there. And it was really frustrating. We couldn’t get in the water, you know, obviously. And the staying in these fishermen shorts is not exactly the Hilton, you know. And very basic. And yeah, so that was a big disappointment. And then, anyway, I was what it was, and, and then the synote isn’t really gonna be done the first time. So I hired somebody who checked me and obviously he’s not, that’s not something you just go in. And so I got a guide, and I did a couple of days diving that was really interested. I really, really enjoyed. I’ll go back I’m thinking, maybe next year or the year, I don’t know, I’ll definitely go back.


Matt Waters  22:33

What did you think? I did it 2019 What do you think about actually going through the sonotubes themselves


Don Silcock  22:43

underwater or getting into not underwater, I just thought was fantastic. The, the, you know, all the limestone structures that you know, the styled my styling ties. And but when you actually get into the sinologist where the light comes down.


Matt Waters  23:03

That’s that’s the bits that I was most intrigued with. I could have stayed in those entry and exit points all day long.


Don Silcock  23:08

Yeah, that’s what that’s what I’m gonna go back for. I had no idea. I had well, I had a bit of an idea of what was there, but I until you’ve done it. We haven’t done it. I mean, you don’t really know. Yeah, so. So I was very nervous going in. And I can tell you, I never lost sight of that line. You know, because it’s all well done. Oh, you know, it’s all lined off on what have you. But I mean, you could get lost in there. And although this was you know, this was Kevin Neal, you you’re not you weren’t doing penetration or whatever you bought it was I was very intimidated first because I like extremely cautious about everything, when I don’t know the score. But I loved it. It was really, really good. And that’s why I’m gonna do next month I’m just talking about before. I’m going to do this sidemount training in Indonesia to get to get the speed and all that you know, and and but yeah, the synopsis was, I’ll definitely go back it because it’s pretty unique. From what I what I’ve seen, although I have heard great things about Mount Gambier as well a friend of mine has just done a game diving certifications down there and she you know, she works lyrically but how nice it is down there. So I don’t know. We’ll see next year.


Matt Waters  24:26

Man, Gabby, I need to dive down there as well. I’ve done a lot of people on the show now that have died down there. And we do dive there. And one of the one of the most recent ones was just before Christmas, I had Josh Richards on the show who he found the the extension to angle Brexit, which was just a little effectively a little paddling pool. It’s now 400 metres plus, you know, wow. But the the photos that come out of that place and spectacular.


Don Silcock  24:52

It’s so different from anything else. Yeah. So that’s kind of why I’d like to go back there and And you know, go back with somebody you know and who’s already qualified and then not then you can model for each other and all the rest of it. It’s like it’s really difficult. I mean, you can capture the the effects of this analysis but you don’t you know, to give it perspective you need a model. Exactly. And that you need also you need lights to give some three dimensionally, the dimensionality to the key systems themselves, you know, and that that needs to be carefully thought out. Are you do all blah, blah, blah.


Matt Waters  25:30

Ryan do chatel. Oh, yeah. Yeah,


Don Silcock  25:32

no, definitely. Yeah. He’s


Matt Waters  25:34

down there all the time. Really? Yeah. And teaching down there all the time. His boss, he likes a beer. So you have a beer in the evening. Yeah, that’s, that’s my buddy. That was down in Mexico.


Don Silcock  25:49

No, no, no, no.


Matt Waters  25:51

moved on by the time you got there. Yeah, it was very XTC on


Don Silcock  25:55

  1. Actually. Go back. Technical. It’s only show in town. Yeah. And when I was did it in 2017. There was a Belgian guy called Marcel there. He’s over in Chicago now I believe. Or in Baja. And then there’s this kind of a millennial. You think his name is a South African guy married to a Mexican girl lives in Cancun? He’s he was leaving it there, you know. But anyway, yeah. So that was the crocodile’s was a big disappointment. But


Matt Waters  26:29

well, you got a couple of shots done. Yeah,


Don Silcock  26:30

yeah, I got, you know, I mean, the conditions were perfect, you know, the water was pretty clear. And the crocs were there soon as we got there. And they were, you know, quite active. And that was I was planning to split shots and all sorts of stuff, you know, and just no way to do it. So we’re, I don’t know whether I’ll go back. But because it’s, you know, it’s a long way and but anyway, from that I went, and like if that was a cut lunch to get there to get from that part of Mexico to go back up to Miami and and all the way, read it down to Buenos Aires and then change airports in Buenos Aires and then fly down to the Valdez Peninsula peninsula, which is in northern Patagonia ACAD to sign up for the trade quite expensive, and I signed up for it because I saw some of the images that have been taken, and Southern Right whales. You know, you can get them here in Australia, and the populations recovered quite reasonably well here in Australia, but it’s covered very strongly. From all the whaling, you know, commercial whaling that was done. And the Southern Right whales in the South Atlantic have recovered quite strongly compared to the northern Atlantic ones, which are really critically endangered now there’s less than about 500 from left, they reckon but the ones in the South have recovered quite strongly. And one of the principal reasons for that is the value exponentially because there’s two large bays there. You know, it’s been a marine parks been and it’s a full blown conservation area now that goes out to sea. So, you know, the whales are protected when they leave the bay. And the Southern Right whales come in every year. And that’s the mating and breeding and birthing area. And you can there’s obviously a big Whale watching industry there. What big industry you know, there’s like about where we were put to put them at ease. There’s about four books, I think that go out on a regular basis. Were watching. But if you apply and you prove your credentials, you know, you can like they won’t let you get in the water with a with a GoPro for example. Yeah. So there’s no if you like


Matt Waters  28:55

chojun tight in the water, you can’t rock up there as an Open Water diver and say, No,


Don Silcock  28:59

I’m just gonna You can’t do that you got to apply you got to show your resume a, you know, show what you’ve you know, for me, I the articles are written on shunga and Nagasawa, and Japan and sperm whales and years old, blah, blah, blah, and the stuff on my website, and I got approved.


Matt Waters  29:15

So I wonder I wonder why.


Don Silcock  29:19

Well, so yeah, that so there was like, four of us who got approved on this permit, and then we had our own ball. But I still had mixed feelings about whether it’d be any good or not, you never know till you get there and we had five days. First day was blown out. But then we had four really good days on on the third day. i On the third day, I had probably the scariest experience I’ve ever had in my life in the water, really. And on the fourth day, I had the best experience I’ve ever had in my life. Both swim and Whale car sort He’s been well, Southern, right? Well, cars, but on the day three, it was a fairly large calf. who clearly thought we were somehow threatening his mullet.


Matt Waters  30:14

So the calf was protecting his mother. Yeah.


Don Silcock  30:17

How big was the calf? About five metres.


Matt Waters  30:20

So it’s a big beast.


Don Silcock  30:21

It’s a big beast weighs about nine tonnes. And it was coming straight out and then coming out of the water above us. A good two metres above me,


Matt Waters  30:31

this is why you’re in Scuba gear and you’re not you’re


Don Silcock  30:35

on the snorkel. You can’t Scuba because it’s too dynamic. You know. So you’re, you’re in the water. And it’s one of those situations where it’s all good. So it’s not Yeah. So you had this very large creature. It was still a juvenile, but a large creature. No, none. nonetheless. That was coming right at us. There’s two rivers in the water. And the interesting thing was it come up out of the water, and it was a battle. I don’t want to fucking die. You know? It weighs about eight or nine son. Yeah. So we’re gonna come down on me. Yeah. It killed me. But it didn’t. It would come up. And it come up above us. And then it came down in between us. So we knew exactly did this repeatedly. Yeah. So this was like a warning. Yeah. And I got it. I got the warning. And in the end, the ball managed to manoeuvre in between, also in the car. Yeah. But we had about, it must have been about 30 minutes of this Jesus. Yeah. Well, the boat couldn’t get in to get us. Really? Yeah. And you couldn’t get back to the boat or you couldn’t, you know, we didn’t know what was going on the work this route is going to do so. It was like, maintain eye contact. You know, you will you have to watch what it was doing. Because in case it came up behind us, I didn’t you know, it was really scary. I was I was worried. And I didn’t get the images. Too busy. You know, it was just like, too dynamic. It was not too scary. It was just like, what went on? Yeah. And then the next day, I went out. And we only had the morning, because we had to dry our gear before we flew out the next day. And we had this about two hours with el blanco. So this was the white calf. But 1% of the cows born, come out with his white pigmentation. And so we were really lucky on two counts. One is that it was three counts. Really one it was there, too. It was It wasn’t aggressive. And the third in fact, it was playful. Yeah. So we had these just magnificent encounters where they were just coming at us and then stopping and looking around and dodging wave and we and come back again. You know, and the mother was like, chilled in the background. was just incredible. I, you know, I just couldn’t believe it was happening to us. And I had the Nottingham W ACP thing. And I got the images, you know, I was like, it was really dynamic, that things moving fast. And you know, you’re not using strobes, you’re just using available light because you’re at the surface. And so I was able to use a fast shutter speed to slow everything down and to capture, you know, the the action, but this the shallow water and this beautiful white creature. And I was fantastic.


Matt Waters  33:40

Well, you got that one photo that you’ve put up


Don Silcock  33:41

some. I’m saving them all for competitions, which I don’t like it. And hopefully I’ll have some good news on in the not too distant future. We’ll see when the results are out. But yeah, I deliberately held him back because, you know, I mean, how many? How many opportunities do you get like that? To be with a white calf? You’re here. Remember that one here in Sydney, Australia? mcglue I think it was the white humpback that we’ve got really famous so that you know, what’s the chances of them? Have you been in the water with? Yeah. And so we saw it briefly on the first day. First day in the water day to the strip site briefly, but it just took off, you know, yeah. But on the last morning, Joe, Alex,


Matt Waters  34:36

and the battery lasted. Yeah.


Don Silcock  34:40

We filled the card, you know, it was it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Yeah. slightly


Matt Waters  34:45

jealous. That’s an understatement.


Don Silcock  34:49

Another Yes.


Matt Waters  34:53

Yeah, that’s it was thinking on the way there about, you know, getting an animal that Lucia steak in the rarity, I think it was talking to if I was Leo guida saw him at some rally a month or so ago. And we were talking about the loose cystic hammerheads up in Papua New Guinea. And for the life of me, I can’t find any of the footage online. Other than my little video from 2017. So, you know, the rarity is just massive. Yeah. And then you look at something as rare as a Southern Right Whale. And then I lose this ticket on top. Yeah. Yeah. Good on you, mate. Cheers.


Don Silcock  35:36

Cheers, mate. Yeah, they the whole thing of the doing these trips is that cuz I you know, I wrote about it after you have to talk to you to research and get to the bottom of things, to get an understanding, develop an understanding of the dynamics, and then you all the reading I’ve been doing about Southern Right whales, and what happened to them? And, you know, they were just like, completely decimated during the period of commercial whaling because the soul it was so easy to catch the flow after you’ve killed him. So you can can be told and you know, so you read all those horror stories. And then you see the way Argentina has done a really good job of the conservation in that area. And how, what was intriguing to me was that it’s a they’ve protected them, but they’ve been really balanced, I think in in in how they allow you to interact with them. So you’ve got the you’ve got the tourists who come just to see them, you know, they’re happy just to go on the board and have a look. Okay, great. But then if you’re really serious about wanting to get in the water, you’ve got a you’ve got to pay for it. It’s not cheap, go get your own boat and honestly, but then you need this special permit. And then the way the vet that are the scenes of that, who, who they allow in the water. So it kind of neutralises the sensationalist side of it, shall we say, you know, people just getting rewarded on what they’re doing. You know, and


Matt Waters  37:19

I put a good control on it doesn’t have any, I’m thinking while you’re talking now is I compared to other locations, and the likes of Nusa Penida. Love it to pieces, but Manta point there, there’s there’s no control at all, when it comes to especially when it comes to the snorkelers and it’s just absolute. Mayhem is


Don Silcock  37:37

mayhem and he’s dangerous. Yeah, I mean, newsprint ad got those huge columns that come through and, you know, the it’s a, it’s a recipe recipe for disaster. Yeah. And they’re taking people out, you’re throwing them in the, you know, people don’t know what they’re doing. You know. And you go, you know, on other sides of the view that if you’ve been to ahead is in the Yucatan for the whalesharks. I mean, we when I did it, we had our own ball and go out there early. And then, you know, this Amara appears over the horizon coming out of Cancun, it’s tourists who are guaranteed to Whaleshark encounters for the day, you know, what that means is they get thrown in, usually where they got a light jacket on, but you know, you can obviously, watch it ready, let me put it like that. And, you know, Whaleshark goes, that’s, well, let’s get back in the boat and go back in again. And then to have that, you know, to have those encounters and the back of the ball. Nobody goes back to Cancun. Yeah. You know, I mean, that’s not a quality experience. It’s not good for anybody, really. The operators making money for the way


Matt Waters  38:44

or where it’s certainly not good for the fish. Yeah.


Don Silcock  38:46

And so I thought I was a bit bemused when actual fly to go there. You know, you know, the operator with the merge, I have done quite a few tricks with using a lot you just got to go through, you know, you’ve got to fill this in, and it’s up. Alright, you got your website, you can show what you’ve done. Yeah. It’s other people who haven’t got that collateral. So we say to reinforce that application. So how deeply that they check, I don’t know. But at least they’re putting up some kind of a barrier. Yeah. To prevent. You know, that the idea and you’ve got somebody with you all the time, they assign somebody who comes out on the boat with you. Right. So it was the guy was really good. He was very helpful. But he’s very watchful as well. Yeah. And he’d say, Look, you know, this is, you know, this is what you can do, this is what you can do. We want you to be careful, don’t do this. Don’t let you know. But you’re okay. You know, I said, Well, you know, can we do that? Yeah, yeah. Okay. As long as you’re not putting yourself or you know, doing any harm to the animals. Yeah. So that’s why it got a bit hairy when I when the animal was trying to do some harm to us like that. But it wasn’t really I was just wanting this off. Yeah, with the benefit of hindsight.


Matt Waters  40:01

But can you imagine that scenario in an environment where the 1015 20 votes there, and a lot of people in the water? You know, it’s it’s a good example of, you know,


Don Silcock  40:12

I wasn’t aware of what had been done there, you know, which I guess is one of the real values of travel, isn’t it? You know, you go and you see firsthand and you develop an appreciation or not, you know, and I was very impressed with the way it was all done. There, I would certainly go back. Once I’ve saved up a bit it was a do what I did. I actually went from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth, which is like 17 hours then an overnight then I had to get down from there to Cancun and back up to Miami and then all the night flight and then coming back. It was like two red eyes. Yeah. It was a red eye. Oh, Buddha said is into Dallas Fort Worth. That’s Wait there 12 hours. And then and then checking for the 17 hour flight to Sydney. I didn’t know whether, you know,


Matt Waters  41:14

did you do business class or first?


Don Silcock  41:20

Yeah, yeah. You know, when you go on the plane and you turn rights walk until you write down if you go anywhere any further you need a uniform. No, I was I was in cattle class, but but my status because it gives me access to the lounges and it gives me gives me 40 kilos of baggage, 46 kilos of baggage. So that makes it easier. The Lounge is a you know, like an oasis. And when when you’re doing that, you know, you can get showered, you can get quietly pierced and eat nice food. And then you get back on a flight and away you go. And you can usually sleep your way through most of what we’re doing.


Matt Waters  42:01

As you know, doing Galapagos Santa July, so Sydney through to Dallas, Dallas Fort Worth, yeah, we’re going to pop across to Miami to then go down to Ecuador, Quito and then Quito to San Cristobal. So it’s a hell of a journey. And we’ve accrued quite a number of points now with with the travel. So we’re doing I think we got premium economy on the White House and I feel and then on the way back, we’re doing business class. All right. My goodness. It’s such a long travel. And I mean, Mises is tiny and like you you’re you’re small so you can fit onto an economy. See? You tried to? I see you haven’t seen in a bit hours. Yeah.


Don Silcock  42:48

No, that’s that’s what I, when I used to work, you know, I don’t even know I give up a perfectly job. Good job to do this. Yeah. I used to travel business gas a lot is it’s it was wonderful, you know, all over everywhere, but I just can’t justify it. And so when the price did it switch these days? And so I, I just,


Matt Waters  43:14

yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, this is the only one this would be the first one. I’ve done business class for a long time and the like, over over seven, eight years, since I did business class last time. The rest of the time, its economy. I just put up with it. Because nine times out of 10 I don’t sleep on a flight anyway.


Don Silcock  43:29

No, you have a point. But we I mean, six foot two, I wish you know, I mean, I can just about I can expire to five or eight, which is really fine. I’m okay. And, you know, as soon as I get off, I do. I’ve got a stretching routine to sort of try and get myself back into shape. And, you know, I, for me, it’s, it’s, you know, I’ll just do it, you know, it took me 55 hours to get back to Sydney. But the thing is that the time that I was awake, I was so happy with my images. This white calf and you know, oh my goodness, you know, this is this is this is what I live for. You know, and so the time flew by I just, you know, I just go through my oh my goodness, you know, this is so good. You know,


Matt Waters  44:20

I think I think that’s the beauty of what we do. Not only photography, but just actually doing the travelling bit and the adventure and a little bit of Scuba diving as well is a bonus when you get the photo that one but it’s just I think it’s it’s the perfect medicine for for a fantastic feeling of well being for me is


Don Silcock  44:42

yeah, it’s you know, it doesn’t suit everybody, you know, doing what we do. But if you’re into this stuff, just the whole adventure of getting to these remote locations and getting all your gear. I mean, that was thing when I was when I did that trip, that was the RIAA, the peak of all a lot lost luggage, you know, stuff that was going on. But you know, you paid all this money to go off and do this stuff. And then it all relies on you being there with your gear. You know, so I tried to carry as much as I can, with me in my carry on luggage, you know, but there’s only so much you can get away with. And, and, you know, if your bag doesn’t turn out, it’s like so I planned mine, the whereby I was, I mean, I was checking in about five hours before departure to give my bags the best chance I got a bottle of Apple air tags, you know, to a new where you know, where the bags were. And I got all the way through I didn’t I didn’t have any issues, you know, but you know, so when you when you get back from that and you get, you know, I get back to get back to Bali back to Sydney. And I get down and and first thing I do once I get some sleep is back everything up. Yeah, I’ve got, you know, like a server back everything objects or and then it’s like, well, I’ve done I can relax now I’ve done a, you know, did this mission on a rolling adventure. And then the interesting thing comes later when you start reviewing the images and you know, you, you can relive relive specific moments. incredibly well from your images, you know, you know, it all comes back to you what you think and at that point in time. And yeah, it’s wonderful.


Matt Waters  46:35

I love it. I had a I did the same as you bought some tags for our recent trip to Bonita and I did the wrong thing. I sat on the plane when we’re getting ready to take off and they’re not pushed back yet and they’re not turning told you to turn your phone’s off. So I had a quick look to see where the apple air tags were. And by the map, it looked like my main luggage was 100 metres away and we’re starting to push back on my car fucking now. I’m not diving for another day. So I’ve learned from that one just don’t look at it until you get to your destination


Don Silcock  47:08

when you land the deal and each little show and it’s in Sydney and then suddenly he’s filled yeah yeah, so yeah, that was that was the big adventure of South America and then I was in


Matt Waters  47:31

I tell you what, before you go into that I would do you travel with all the camera equipment? Do you? Do you take all of the camera equipment at hand luggage?


Don Silcock  47:38

Or do you Johnson is we grateful King difficulty. Yeah, no. So what I do is my lenses and my camera board is hard drives. And that stuff. I’m a computer I have in my backpack. Yeah. So I personally use a think tank backpack which is it’s quite big, but somehow it doesn’t look like it’s big. It’s kind of an optical illusion so you can stand there and people don’t seem to notice and then I’ve got a smallish kind of roll on the zipper bag. And I put my housing and I put my my drone and I put the some of the other stuff in I can put that WAC fee thing and it’s just too heavy. But that goes in my suitcase but I’ve got a smaller John Kerry as a backup. That’s with me now but really like all my cables and all that stuff is in the suitcase anyway, so I’ve been pretty screwed you know so for me it’s just a question of what’s the most sensible way to travel so that the thing is my my carry on is easily 25 to 30 cable Yeah, you know so i i You know, one of the reasons I go to the gym is so I can stand there and look like it’s not heavy you know and check in the reality is my fell over can get up you know


Matt Waters  49:13

on its back. Yeah.


Don Silcock  49:16

But usually I get away with it. Yeah. And the key to that really is politeness Yeah, I’m always like super polite.


Matt Waters  49:24

It helps if you’re like super early as well like yeah and the


Don Silcock  49:29

conscious put some mistakes into conference he gets me the equivalent with American Airlines. Now the last time I travel American Airlines down into Mexico I wasn’t the same status and air travel economy and it was a real hassle yeah with my with my carrier right this time because my stages I got you know premium check in I didn’t even ask they just give you a little Kurt’s on the way through. Yeah, he was like, you know, I just thought it was brilliant. Yeah. And you get priority boarding. Yeah. Whereas in an economy, you’ll be like, you know, last aboard and they take your bag off. Yeah. Yeah. And put it down on the hold the camera Sorry, sorry. Sure you can get him like. So that’s how I manage it. And bought for example. Right. So my last trip of the year was I was back in Papua New Guinea in for three weeks, which is, you know, been away for three years. And I travelled up to Moresby on cuantas. So no issues. But once you get if you fly into New Guinea on Air New Guinea, you get 35 kilos allowed on the domestic flights. Check in plus a 15 kilo divers allowance. Yeah. So it just got was a chore if shall we say? You get 35 kilos on the domestic flight? Yeah. If you plus 15 for Scuba divers? Yeah. If you’re not going in, and you get a you get 16 kilos. So you’re gonna get whacked? So I’ve definitely got like, at least 40 kilos. Yeah. And then I’ve got my carry on. Yeah. And the small planes, you know, so they may, I know from experience that my backpack will go into the sea. And if I’m careful with this, or the roll on thing, I can get it in the overhead locker of a dash eight, okay, it’ll just go in, you know, just, you know, you know, you just go in there with squats, but you’ll go in, you know, and that’s, you know, then it’s just question of being polite and showing you showing the excess baggage, you’ve just paid on your check in luggage helps to get through the you know, the final check would With to go into boarding you know, with the with the Oh, you carry on? Yeah, you usually get away with it. Yeah, but it’s it’s just a hassle. It is.


Matt Waters  52:01

I mean, I’ve now that I’ve upgraded on my gear, you know, with the mirrorless and then the the Ikelite housing that comes with it, everything that I carry in much the same as you it’s all camera equipment that I’m carrying on the rucksack and then in the wheelie bag, and then I’ve got maybe two or three pairs of Groton socks that are just packing everything out. And everything else is in the, in the hands in the in the suitcase. But the reason I asked her I’ve not fathom the way of putting my tray and arms and all that kind of thing. And so that all just goes into


Don Silcock  52:37

just, you know, hope and put it in the because I have just got too much stuff, you know, yeah. You can carry all that. And, you know, I’ve tried were to have like a minimum kit that I can still take photographs underwater, with me magic, but it’s too difficult. You know, you’re like you forget the battery charger or something. You know, it’s like, it doesn’t really work. Yeah. And so I you know, the tags are great, you let you know what your bag is.


Matt Waters  53:14

Or tortures you.


Don Silcock  53:16

When my bag got lost on average. I came down from Srinagar in India, right? And I landed in Delhi. And my bag wasn’t there. Right? It turned out they’d open a long story, but they did. They wanted they found some battery in there and actually gone into vinegar. And then they didn’t put on the flight. I don’t know if it was up to punish me, I don’t know. But anyway, when I got to Delhi, there was no back with all my stuff. And I was on a flight and four hours to Sydney and I just managed to fill the form in and it was actually arrived in Sydney the next day. They found it in Srinagar. They got it down there and indeed actually did a really good job. They got it to Sydney. Have you ever been to where they store the bags in Sydney those lot? No, don’t you lose the will to live really? I assumed that there was a system right? So I took all my I got in on the Sunday. On on the Tuesday I established that my bag was in Sydney. Air India told me it was in Sydney. So I said well, where I found the office in Sydney Airport where these bags are go Who are these bags go to die. You walk in and there’s fucking bags everywhere. But they’ve all got the tags on and they’ve all got you know the barcodes so I saw because I’ve got my knife my baggage recedes. I thought they’d be


Matt Waters  54:48

assistant. Well, logic says though, there’s gonna be a little fella with a scanning machine and they’ll tell you exactly where it


Don Silcock  54:53

  1. Yes. I said you know, and they said well, can you tell me where my bag is? Is In here, yeah. I don’t know. Is there a system that? No. I said, Well, what is your system? Well, we’ll just work through. There’s like hundreds of bags stacked up. And they just work the way through them. And you know, track the person and say no. And he says, yeah, so I said, Well, can I go and look? So I want all of our climate, no bags. And I was about, I went and bought new stock, because I was going to South Australia on this, on the Saturday and I thought, Friday afternoon, I thought I’ll go and try again. So I went back again, turned on polite mode. So you know, you don’t want to hurt they’ve got a bad job. They’ve got a shit job. You know, you’re dealing with irate people. I rate bagless people. And so there was this lovely woman, she says, Oh, yeah, maybe because of the the basic problem was, if you bag comes in and accompanied, it has to be x rayed by customs, who are short staffed. So they said, well, there’s just relational let’s go and see. So the took me through work, you’re not supposed to walk around the cottondale was my bag. It was like, it was like falling in love with


Matt Waters  56:21

my hands over in my precious


Don Silcock  56:23

Where have you been? Forget the claims. Forget, just give me my bag. So away, I went with my bag. But honestly, if you, you, I wouldn’t travel without those air tags. Now, it’ll tell you where it is. You know, I’ve got


Matt Waters  56:39

I’ve got a mate from Canada. And they they were visiting Sydney, not so long back. So they came over to ask for a bit of a catch up. Bit of a pit stop, really. But yeah, a bit of a catch up. And they first put us onto their tags, because he had almost the exact same scenario, but in America. And he’s having the debate with the person on the tail that saying, Now we haven’t got your bags. And he’s like, Well, there’s my phone. Right? There’s the thing flashing, and I’ve just seen that door open and close. And my bags behind it. Yes. You know,


Don Silcock  57:12

it tells you exactly where it where they are, they’re worth the weight and go, yeah, they’re not cheap. You know, they’ve got like, six of them now wanting everything. And, but they’re worth it is worth it. Because you you know, you can track it down. Yeah, you can tell the well, he’s here. And you can give the GPS coordinates of where you values.


Matt Waters  57:30

And it’s that also that thing where I mean, I’m thinking back to another scenario where I was going through and doing the Banda Sea crossing. Yeah. And we got through to my mare. And there was four people without their bags. And when we were pushing back on that on the on the flight from we were coming in from volleyball, I think it was barley. But pushing back anyway, you could see the trolley and the four bags, you know, we might need them. And clearly they’re not coming. But if they are their tags, it would save you so much hassle when you get to the landing point because you can literally show the phone and say well, that’s where they are. That’s where


Don Silcock  58:08

the you know, the central


Matt Waters  58:13

if that’s not an advert for Apple their tags of otherwise.


Don Silcock  58:16

It’s just common sense. It’s just a brilliant idea. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Brilliant idea. Yeah. Well, we’ve


Matt Waters  58:22

got four now, and we definitely use them often. I should probably get another couple for Galapagus. Well, yeah. Have you done a bit of roseanne? I was gonna ask you some questions about Roseanne No, sir. Clearly you’re not being so that


Don Silcock  58:40

I could make something up. Well. No, I’ve no. Yeah, well, I don’t even know what it is.


Matt Waters  58:47

Well, because we were going because we’re doing the Galapagos and it’s a week long. Like we did last time we tagged on we actually did a big trip last time like five weeks. But we did all the little hotspots along the route as well on the way back so we did Mexico and up into fucking what’s it called? Cozumel. And did the So notice this time, we’re kind of looking at where the hell are we gonna go this time? And you know, you got all these little bits in the Bahamas and all that kind of stuff. And I’m, I’m one of the admins for a Texas dive group on Facebook with 1000s of people in it. And there’s so many people that harp on about how good rotana is. So I thought you know what, fuck it, we’re gonna check it out. So really looking forward to that. Cool looking forward to the graphics as well. Yeah, but


Don Silcock  59:38

I’ve never done it. It’s like, get out of it. No, no, it’s like it’s it’s so far from here. And so difficult and so expensive at times, you know? I mean, I think you’ve got a really good deal from what I from the tempting offers. You’ve chosen me. But the Yeah, it’s it’s It’s kind of, it’s out there. It’s one of those things. You know, I’m thinking of doing Dominica, next year for the spoon Wales. And it will likely say about, you know, be going, you’re gonna go that far. Well, you know, can you check on something else?


Matt Waters  1:00:18

From this side of the world? You’ve got the right, right. Yeah, could


Don Silcock  1:00:20

you if you’re gonna go, you know, you might as well go? Yeah, yeah.


Matt Waters  1:00:23

Well, you can come in July if you like, I’ll put you on a tradesman.


Don Silcock  1:00:31

Stop it.


Matt Waters  1:00:32

If I’m looking forward to it. It’s like you’ve been catching up with the trips that you had to like as a COVID. This is my one big one that had been delayed since then.


Don Silcock  1:00:40

It’s a good one, though. Can’t wait. Yeah. Let me tell you about what we’re doing in New Guinea, because that was I was just moving on to that. Right. Yeah, it was really interesting. You’re not gonna call Shawn Toomey never heard of me. He lives in Maroubra. He’s kind of a tech guy with days with dark centre, Bondi. And he through a mutual acquaintance approached me about June last year, really interested in the wrecks in Papua New Guinea. You know, where they are what they are in. And so I met a woman in the poll below, I believe on and he showed me what he’s been doing with. I couldn’t even say it. Additionally, photogrammetry is less you


Matt Waters  1:01:31

talking about this with Dan Dan Johnson. We couldn’t say either.


Don Silcock  1:01:37

I was just laying down with the with some of the animations. So it’s complicated, to say the least. But the basic thing is that you take a lot of images to map out a structure. In this case, these are well mainly were world war two aircraft wrecks. Plus, we managed to get to Whitehall, New Hanover to dive on a Japanese mini submarine that’s there, which is one of the same class of subs that attacked Sydney in World War Two. So unique wreck really? And what would the way we words is that we were supported on the trip by Alicia you know, Angie, and Jen Dima, Aman and Dale when I pitched the idea to them about what we wanted to do. They were very supportive because there’s got these really classic wrecks in the caveat and area and they’ve got access to this. The Minnesota ban the Japanese warships that was sung by the US Air Force in World War Two Open in New Hanover. So, the way we did it was Shawn was doing the all the stuff for the photogrammetry. And I was taking the still images to illustrate the condition of the wrecks as they are now. So obviously, I had an advantage because I’ve been there before dived all over it before Shawn was going to new toilet, but he liked seeing stuff on my site. And he’d done a lot of research himself. And he was able, he shot in the end, he was shooting mainly video. Yeah. So he do a pass down the side and a little bit higher up. And you know, and just try and get as many images as he could of the specific structure. And then from the frames that come off the image using the Panasonic GH five, which is a very good video camera. So every say 20/20 frame, he would take a still image of that. Put it into like a sidecar, if you like and then take all those images in the psyche and build them in the photogrammetry software into this three dimensional image that can be animated and rotated around. It’s amazing what can be done. So we there was he I’d never dug this particular route before but there was a beach 25 there just on the edge of the mangroves and in netflights Call albatross passage which is one of the classic dive sites and caveats fantastic site in the right conditions where the currents coming in, bring it with it fret clear water and the Bismark sea. But once you get into the actual passage itself, you’re right on the edge of the mangrove, and you know, it’s less than most two metres visibility. Yeah, right. And there’s this B 25. That’s there. We’re which is a really interesting backstory to all that So, how it crashed and blah, blah, blah, you know all the details, but we have a video of Shawn during the video, right? And it’s like, it’s like, really ship visibility, you know, terrible, terrible, but it took us about 35 minutes to find the wreck. I mean, we went down where we knew it was. And we couldn’t find it because it was, you know, we just couldn’t see it. And eventually, we stumbled on it and put an SMB open, mate, you know, and Shawn went round there, and captured all the video on and you know, took out the the stills from that, and compile them into this model. And it’s amazing what comes out. Yeah, you get this, you get this compiled image of what the wreck is. But without all the bit, the visit the bad days, all apart all that’s gone. Yeah. As far as the processing, and then you can animate it and turn it around. And then you can, you know, the B 25 is badly broken up the tails off to one side. But then you if you’ve got the original drawings, which John’s managed to find, you can rebuild it. Yeah. And you can put, so he’s got this shot of the cockpit. And he’s got the original image of what the cockpit would look like. And he’s managed to superimpose all the instruments, and it just transforms, the whole thing becomes absolutely magical, you know. And so we did this with the Rex, the various wrecks there. And then we worked in New Hanover. And we stayed there overnight at the surf camp, and we dive to many, some four times. And he managed to win, we’ve got all the external, there’s some of the summary and then he got a GoPro and a lie and the conning tower is open. And we put on a stick on a broomstick. And he put the golf roll down into the sub. And he you know, he turned it back into both ways. And in from that he’s managed to rebuild the inside of the sub. It’s incredible. It’s absolutely incredible. So we all had all the heavy lifting is with Shawn at the moment while he does all this, all this work, but we’ve got this project that we’re going to put together, probably launch it in about the middle of the year. About it’s about it’s like, I’m calling it rebuilding history. So you got these wrecks have been down there since World War Two, the various states of disarray, some are instantly recognisable, others are not. And we were rebuilding these and make it all and then all the backstory to the, you know, the to, you know, when the plane went down how we went down all the rest of it. So yeah, it’s it’s really, really interesting. And we look at now to the mall in New Island in New Hanover, and also go to probably going to rebel and July to look at the racks and harbour, which was rebel popping up in his truck lagoon? Yes, you know, plus all the volcanic ash, you know, but there are some of the racks that are still drivable, and we’re going to look at doing that. And probably next year, I’m going to survey in July. Yeah. Yeah, really interesting. Yeah.


Matt Waters  1:08:16

You’re gonna get him to go down and do the post off in the blackjack as well.


Don Silcock  1:08:20

That’s the that’s the holy grail to get there. But the thing is, it’s not easy to get there.


Matt Waters  1:08:26

Yeah. Several times.


Don Silcock  1:08:29

You know, I mean, I’ve done it a few times. But that I mean, the the nearest lambaste location is obviously chiefy. But there’s, it’s a Scotland to get there, isn’t it higher, and 50 metres. So you know, so that’s part of the reason I’m doing this, you know, sidemount course next month. So I’m going to get to these deeper wrecks. And we can do this photogrammetry on them, because it really it’s hard to visualise until you see the actual animations. Yeah. But it’s just on a completely different level. You know, the basic thing is that, I mean, I can go there like on the blackjack, right? So you can, if you get in the right position, and you’ve got an offer here, you can get a really good two dimensional view of the wreck in its entirety that be something which, you know, it’s fantastic, isn’t it? But you’re relying on depth to feel to give you any level of three dimensionality into the wreck. What the photogrammetry does is give you a complete animatable 3d model of that wreck as it lies that and then you can superimpose all the original livery, you know, the, the, the, you know, the blackjack symbols on the side and blah, blah, you know, and the other one would be 25 The pissed off. You know that the livery that was on the side of that you can superimpose that onto it. It’s amazing. Yeah, well Lately,


Matt Waters  1:10:00

while I was actually talking, I was going back a number of years now. It was before COVID. Actually, with Mikko Paasi, he’s heavily into their focus photogrammetry. In fact, they’ve just completed a project in the mines in one of the Skanderbeg Scandinavian countries, and it’s fucking phenomenal. What they’ve produced. But yeah, we were talking about he picked my brains about going over to Papua New Guinea and doing the blackjack and doing it from the inside, because you can actually get inside the blackjack. There’s an open door.


Don Silcock  1:10:32

I know that. Because that’s how they got the call sign, but the braid of under me gonna get into go inside, you know, because the only side Deborah, you know, yeah,


Matt Waters  1:10:42

but it’s actually very, very open. Is it? Yeah, yeah. So it’s, if you have a look at p 17. And the size of the side, effectively, what would be a passenger door if it was an airliner, the whole thing is missing all around both sides. So you can actually get in and out very easily. There’s a couple of cable runs just at the top of the door. But as long as you’re going in, there’s no current every now and then you get caught into the trap, which is very rare. You’ve already explained what the blackjack is. Well, yeah. So the blackjack is a B 17. And it lies at 48 metres off the coast of the beach or the local village is called Bolgar Boga. And it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s like a build set isn’t it is it is yeah. And it’s very humbling when you go there as well because the people of the village remember you, you know and I’ve been there maybe four or five times now can remember. And they have a little book just to register the people that have come in and the divers and you pay 20 kina whatever that is, you know 20 bucks to go and dive it per person. And you can see how few people have dived it since you will ask there and my last break was like two and a half years between dives. And I think there was four people in that two and a half which I have to get to it’s incredible but it’s so beautiful. And you know I I would love to go back and do this kind of project on the blackjack and I’d already spoken about it with the locals as well and they will be willing for us to pitch tents on the beach and be part of the community overnight and have everything yeah the fantastic of Yeah. But if you end up going back before me let me know because I’m gonna buy a shit tonne of cheap shades. Just so the people in the village can because they suffer greatly from sand blindness because of the glare of the white. The white sand they find it very difficult to as they get older 3540 years old there’s a lot of no getting a bit bit blind in the old eyeballs. So yeah, just I think you know, shipping a load of cheap shades just make everyone happy and sit around it’s really building on the bill I’m sorry. Yeah, but no, it’s it’s arguably one of the most recognisable racks in Papua New Guinea and probably the world as well. I got approached by a company from London a media company from London actually just before Christmas asking if they could use my video footage of the wreck in one of the doghouse Yeah, open to that idea but I’m very aware that it’s the best that’s out there at the moment so you know let me know what you’re gonna pay and then I’ll think about it


Don Silcock  1:13:36

Yeah, man’s got to do what man’s gotta do you know? No, say that with a black jack is the holy grail. But the Shawn and I mulling over how Shawn could start like a trading company to train people how to do photogrammetry and we’re talking about running trips up in New Guinea next year to do this photogrammetry and so you know if you’re going to take eight to 12 people to die Black Jack That’s a major logistical challenge. I know I’ve done it you had hair before you did


Matt Waters  1:14:25

nothing was grey


Don Silcock  1:14:27

it’s it’s a major logistical junk and you know that depth


Matt Waters  1:14:34

I would actually strongly urge that you have those numbers and just increase the price because if prepay if people really want to do it and do it with skilled people, they’re going to pay it because trying to take 12 people it’s it’s a logistical nightmare. Very


Don Silcock  1:14:49

good point. Yeah. Because it is really special but anyway, we’re gonna if we do it, we will cut our teeth on the because the thing about the KV Anggrek and also the New Hanover rakes is they’re not technical guys that you know they’re in the deepest is dp which is a fantastic Japanese seaplane which is in 14 metres it’s it’s one of my favourite wrecks anywhere it’s not on the sides of blackjack but in terms of the photogenic nature of it’s, it’s out there and but that’s in 40 metres so you know you don’t get long down you know it’s a reasonably safe dive apart from the depth you know. But you know, Blackjack takes it even further. And like you say, it’s, it’s very challenging so we’re gonna we’re gonna cut our teeth I think first first of all with the wrecks in new Ireland New Hanover and then if the rebel thing comes off if those wrecks that Dan, who you did the podcast with recently if that works out in rebelled and we’ll probably do that in next year. 24 the idea to score along the north coast of New Britain some of the best so the kind of return Rex is what we mulling over but the goal would be to eventually get to blackjack but that’s a good point. Yeah, I mean, limit the numbers and and increase the price basically you know to call the reduced numbers to for the quality experiencing


Matt Waters  1:16:27

well game to game to hit me up and talk to him over beers. And logistically I’m probably the best man to know how to do it. Yes, you


Don Silcock  1:16:34

are. honestly think of it. Yeah, I’ve done it more than I have. Yeah.


Matt Waters  1:16:38

And there’s there’s a number of ways I’m thinking off the top of my head now but I’m not gonna divulge on it on there. I’ll keep that to myself.


Don Silcock  1:16:46

I know the six back Yeah.


Matt Waters  1:16:47

But no, seriously, I’m certainly keen to add any information I’ve got I’m more than happy to show you guys to do that. And you know, if you’re gonna be doing those trips up north as well. Give me the details which are nomadic Scuba, because that’s, that’s going to be live again in a month’s time. We’ll advertise the trips and get as many people on it as possible. Yeah, get some fundamental. Yeah.


Don Silcock  1:17:12

I I forgot one. I forgot that one trip. That we we skipped over it. I went to Tasmania in in October.


Matt Waters  1:17:23

The handfish. Yeah,


Don Silcock  1:17:26

that was a really interesting trip. I’ve been down to Jersey never. It’s a I have to admit, I was one of those people used to make jokes about the Tasmanians. Kinda like, it’s kind of like, you know, you know, that Canadians joke about the new fees and you know, making a joke about Mexicans or something. I don’t know. But it’s just a spectacular place. Yes, really is beautiful little island, you know, and you don’t know you could an hour of Hoba and you’re in the most fantastic country, you know. And so I’ve been, I’ve been down there a few times, but I’ve never dived down there. So a friend of mine, Chelsea had he and I decided last year, Chelsea’s the person I do all my South Australian trips with she’s really good diver knows. South Australia extremely well lives in Adelaide. And, but her ambition was to get to Tasmania. So we decided we we set the date about a year ago. And we went down there in October and based ourselves at Eagle Hawk on the East Coast. And we go the sights around Eagle hawk. And then we were up to a fishing hole up in the north and dive that a few times. And then we also did to do and river looking for handfish which was quite an experience. But yeah, I was blown away with the a couple of things about the diving Eaglehawk the deep coastal reefs that are just spectacular.


Matt Waters  1:19:10

And that’s the ones that you should you put a couple of photos up with the sponges.


Don Silcock  1:19:13

This one’s yours. Yeah, so it’s I mean, it’s full on diving, you know, you you expose the scenery, the topography, shall we say above water? And below water is intimidating, but intriguing and immense, you know, very scary. Yeah, it’s it’s not for the faint hearted. Because you know, you’ve got to watch the weather and the eagle Hawk dive centre. Cannon gala Holmes, who runs it with a guy called Nick Baron. She’s formerly CSIRO. She’s written books on marine life. She’s extremely knowledgeable, extremely knowledgeable. Mick is just the best bullshitter I’ve possibly known. Really? Oh, man, he can manoeuvre that bowl, you know, like, you know, just like you have total confidence in his ability. He’s the guy you want in the boat picking you up. You know, I mean, but he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, you know. You need to leave your ego back at the shop because he, you know, I don’t think anybody died wondering what Mick thinks, you know? He let you know what fantastic guy a really, really fantastic guy. So he got us into these spots on this what is one area called the free Sisters, we were fortunate to dive that twice. So that’s 40 metre dive. And you get that once you get down to about 35 I mean, you dive in into like 1314 degrees in a dry Sue, you know, it’s cold, you know, you’re in a cold water environment. Because every all the senses are telling you apart from your sense of sight. Because these these fantastic, incredibly colourful gullies and galley you know, where all these sponges are, and it’s


Matt Waters  1:21:12

like, wow, and the clarity as well. Cold War. Yeah, it’s,


Don Silcock  1:21:15

it’s so the to die, I’m just looking at my images of the night, I went to the same swatch at the same photograph of this, like sponge garden, and a while I’ve got really beautiful clear blue water, you think that it can be based on what, you know, the colours and the blue water. And the sponges is that the the ecosystem, shall we say? Makes you think you’re on one, you know, they, you know, the the offshore raves and chiefy Yeah, you know, just like the colour, obviously, the species are different, but the colours, you know, it’s like doesn’t compute, you know, you know, you’re in cold water, you know, you know, you dive in a dry suit and you know, in the, you know, you’re down date, and there’s this incredible colour, you know, and it’s another place called the north wall that we died again, similar sort of thing where you probably 30 metres there, but it’s just epic, absolutely epic, you know. So I’m going back, I’m going back there, this was, this was a revelation for me, diving, I mean, it heard about it. And he’s also in that area, there’s the Nord, that’s at 42 metres. And it’s in completely recognisable as a wreck and it’s in these cold water currents. So there’s all sorts of stuff around it, you know, so it’s, again, challenging, yeah, you know, you’ve got to you’ve got to know what you’re doing sort of thing and be ready for that. So that’s why I’m going to do this right at sidemount stuff that I’m signed up to do next month in Gilly Gilly islands in Indonesia. So I’m better able to do that sort of stuff, you know, because I mean, I’ve gotten a single tank and I was like, you know


Matt Waters  1:22:59

you’re watching around the aisles and


Don Silcock  1:23:00

oh, I mean, yeah, yeah, I mean, acutely conscious of where you are, you know, it was for me it was our safe I was okay I did on we did go on we stocks and what have you, but the point was, the margin for error isn’t is narrow when you’re doing it, you know, you need to win tanks. Really, to do all that safely. And but yeah, I’m planning on going back to Tasmania, probably about October this year, to dive all that stuff again. Because it was just it was just brilliant. But you know, it was really nice. I got some nice images there. It was very pleasant and the drive up from from Eaglehawk going up the east coast you go through the Freycinet area Wineglass Bay you know, It’s to die for is it just like a really beautiful perfect picture perfect place. And then the other end of the scale, the Derwent River so the how to handle fish critically endangered, the racking, there’s probably less than the spotty down fish is probably less than 3000 the right hand fish is much less it’s a type of angler fish, you know, frog fish type of creature that’s sit entry on the on the on the seabed in the river and between six and eight metres is where they hang out. But you get in the you know this and it’s almost like a state secret. We had somebody who showed us the general area but said you’re on your own you know, you got to find it yourself. So I mean Chelsea when I lost Chelsea after about two minutes, you know he was like three metres veers and so I discovered I can read a compass again. I took a head out and I got to six metres and I stayed around six to eight but I mean, two metres is you know could have been a lot of rain. Tassie so the German was coming all, you know, particularly out is, you know, quite landed cold. But if I want, yeah, I found one. And so they, you’ve got to be really careful with them because some of them where they are with eggs, they stay with the eggs and they look after the eggs. And if you, you know, to quite small at about maybe three inches long. But there might be one. And you’re while you’re while you’re looking at that one, I thought you might land on the other with the eggs. Yeah. So you gotta be really careful about where you are, that you’re buying it right. And make sure you’re not doing do more damage than you even know you’re doing. And then, you know, I limited myself to like about four photographs. So I really took the time before the first one. But you know, you don’t want to, you know, harm the animal basically, because you’re critically endangered. But yeah, it was, it was a really interesting experience to you. I mean, I think it was in seven metres, but you wouldn’t know you could be like 50 metres rolling. You know, there’s almost no, there’s and it’s cold. And, but there’s these unique features. So it kind of, personifies Tasmania, you know, it’s like really this unique stuff that yeah, and yeah, it’s I, Chelsea really enjoyed it as well, I, I really, really enjoyed it on Social, I’m gonna go back and do more, but it’s not for the faint hearted, you know, it’s not it’s not something you can just rock up and go and do. You know, you got to be ready. I, I all the stuff I’ve done in South Australia prepared me. But even then it was a bit like we turned up on the first day and mixes, you know, we can dive the three systems today. Because the conditions were is is what he 40 metres. It’s called, Are you Are you okay with that? And I said, No, I’m not non thirsty. I’m not going to do that. And Chelsea said the same as you’d okay. No problem. Want to ask? I wouldn’t say yeah, we’d put you to put us in. Yeah. But then, you know,


Matt Waters  1:27:07

dive on, come on.


Don Silcock  1:27:09

You know, where we right now? We weren’t mine. Not the right headspace for that. So we dive to a couple of the political cathedral cave and then we did deep land Valley, I think it was called. So you know, you kind of build out and then about the third day, he said, Okay, we conditions are good for the research that you want to try. Okay, I’m ready now. Yeah. And we got it in but even then, even though it was ready, it was still quite intimidating, you know, just the the order the place, basically, you know, and, but intriguing. I’m going back, you know, I’m gonna go back and do some more.


Matt Waters  1:27:52

I’d love to do it. We’ll get down there and do it. But every time that Mrs. Mentioned Tasmania, my brain goes into what kit? Am I taking? Fucking everything. I’m thinking of all the all the lenses for above water and beneath.


Don Silcock  1:28:09

But that’s the way the right way to go. Because there’s when I got back, I’m going back. I’m gonna probably go back for two weeks. I’m going to be shoulder round Eaglehawk. But if you can’t dive you can take a water stuff on this. Some beautiful scene. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, really, really spectacular scene,


Matt Waters  1:28:28

although I like the old night stars. Oh, yeah, the sky shots and a year of playing around with them just before COVID I really enjoy that. And, yeah, I’ve been told there’s literally no ambient light down there at all. Yeah, it’s


Don Silcock  1:28:45

you know, that’s the other side attacks as as well, which is quite, you know, I mean, you gotta you’ve got to, you’ve got to get to get to the pub for you’re gonna eat, you’ve got to get there before eight o’clock goes everywhere. It’s close. It’s like, you know, and there’s nowhere else you know, it’s like, you know, everywhere, everywhere. Sure, you know, so you just got to be aware of all that and deal with.


Matt Waters  1:29:16

And so that’s is that all of your trips that you’ve done? Yeah, that’s,


Don Silcock  1:29:19

you know, we, we did the photogrammetry in New Hanover, New Island. And then I went to Kimby Bay and I went back and Oceania, and we went to the two islands and diver what you just beautifully, some lovely sites out there. You know, when classic tropical diving, Dan Dan really rates the widow islands. Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s spectacular. You know?


Matt Waters  1:29:43

How’s it compared to the outer reefs at tofi?


Don Silcock  00:37

Similar in many ways, it’d be better than all sites intuitively, I guess the difference is probably the nutrients, because you got a twofer. You’ve got the what’s left of the Indonesian throughflow, that comes down on top of what God doesn’t go to read your app that comes down the the North Coast and North East Coast. And that’s when the feed stores cultural lows off your race in the witches, because it’s right, it’s kind of right in the middle of the Bismarck sea, you’ve got that flow of nutrients that comes down and goes into the Bismarck. And then you got from the Solomon Sea to the south. And all you’ve got this, this circular movement of nutrients around the Bismarck sea. And that’s what creates the biodiversity in Kimbie Bay. Because you get Eddie’s on there, you know, but the witches are right out there. You know, and so they get this circulation of nutrients, and the scenery will walk because you’ve got the whole crater of volcanoes under which you actually, you know, gets breached on one is huge. And you go inside, and it’s always black sand and some little villages there and you stay you know, so it’s all visually spectacular. Yeah. And then the reefs and atolls are cheaper. And some just wonderful diving. You know, it’s really, and the thing is, people say to me, you know, how do you run up against Roger Lampard? It’s a very valid question. On a scale of one to 10 tropical diving. Some of the very best tropical diving in the world is in big rampart, in my opinion. Some, you know, especially down in grammar school in the south, absolutely. Unbelievably spectacular. But big currents. That’s why it’s, that’s why it is what it is. And lots of boats. Yeah. It’s unlikely that you’ll be, you know, by yourself alone. So you go to places like the witters, and I would say, it’s not as good as Randy Rampa as the best of Reggio Ampat. Right. It’s, you know, so I’ve read the ramparts nine, I would poke the way to lose eight to eight and a half. Right. But it’s exclusive. Yeah. So you’re there with just the bowl. And you don’t get the velocity of the currents that you will get big currents from time to time, but it’s much more predictable and much more manageable. So it suits a lot more diverse than Roger. No, nobody tells you about the currency Roger Rambo. Oh. And you get there and it’s like, holy moly, you know what’s going on here? Right? And if you know how to dive in those currencies, okay. But if you don’t, it can be your worst nightmare. And you get all the downdraft and all the other stuff that happens. Uh, you know, because of the colons so don’t get me wrong. I love red jumper. I’ve been there many times fantastic. The best. So no signs are just the best Tropical diver. But you have to know how to dive them. It’s not exclusive. There’ll be other boats. And there’s like 100 boats working Reggie Rambo. And


Matt Waters  03:58

every single boat well, more or less every single boat from Komodo goes to Roger in a down season.


Don Silcock  04:03

Go north and you know, base themselves there. So


Matt Waters  04:07

I, I’ve done Roger, but admittedly, I don’t think all right. In fact, I know I’ve not done the best of Roger. I’ve been out there with a an operator that we didn’t go to the right locations, quite frankly. But for me at the moment, I still rate png above that my experience in Roger.


Don Silcock  04:27

And that’s a fair comment. What you’ve seen, yeah, having been fortunate to do what I’ve done, I’m doing my things I’m doing this year. I’m doing this. I started you’re in the pandemic I am intrigued by the pioneers who started all this I’m John trade were the pioneers in Papua New Guinea. And I’m very fortunate to have gotten to know most of them. Some of them have passed on now. You know Bob Holsteins God, Max Benjamin’s gone, but what those guys did and partners you know, so Cecily Benjamin and, and Bob altos wife, diner, what they did back in the day was mind boggling really, you know, the true adventures. True, true true adventures, you know, and everybody else who came after them and setup what they’ve done. And you know, the people do for you know, Linda and all that, you know, great, fantastic, fantastic. But you’ve got a similar story in magic Rampa. And I was fortunate enough to meet Eddie from willen. Lash Nan, about 15 months ago now. So Eddie was the first liveaboard built and launched the first liveaboard in Indonesia, Benito. And he’s still driving a car today. Just he did a complete refurbishment, don’t John COVID. And you talk to him about what he did. And I did a couple of articles on him. And you know, I’ve got to know him really well. Now. Again, I’m just full of admiration for that guy. You know, I mean, I like my adventure, in big doses, but I feel like I’ve lived a sheltered life. Well, I mean, I do, you know, I mean, I feel like a dilettante at times, you know, I go in, and I’ll do two weeks with it. You know, I mean, and I’ll come back. And I’m conscientious about, you know, probably, what can I write as, truthfully, and honestly, as I can to tell the story of what I’ve seen, you know, but take leave this stuff. You know, there used to be, you know, it’s like, you know, it’s one thing to come in as a tourist until you two weeks or whatever, go out, it’s a different thing to be there and having to deal with all the stuff that constantly challenges you. And to do. We talked about Eddie about what he did, and how he did what he did and building that first ball. And then, I mean, where do you go, Okay, you build the boat? Right, and you get it going. But so where do you go then? Yeah, you know, it’s eight hours across Indonesia, by far. away. You go. And, you know, what’s this Indonesian throughflow? Again, where are these currents coming from? I don’t know. You know, I mean, people didn’t know. And yet, he’s been doing it for like 25 years now. I first heard about him when I bought Carl molars book on diming. Indonesia, back in, oh, my god, 25 years ago, and we talked about this book, this boat, the pin detail, you know, and I got to know him in Bali and interviewed him and, you know, wrote a couple of articles about him. Anyway, the next cabinet rank is I’m going to take Craig in. In May. So Eddie was with Kate Craig case and the Dampier Strait and Roger and Parker. Right. So when the first bolts liveaboard ball to go to Roger ampere was Eddie open detail. But he wasn’t the first the first person there was maxima Dutch guy who set up a beach camp on Cape Creek, isn’t it you’ve got now got two resorts. He’s got his own little Air Force. He’s got he got these. But the guy is incredible, right? So I’m going to interview him in May I’m going to his one of his real good surreal babies are. And two things. One is to document what he’s doing and and his life and all the rest of it. Because very interesting. And if you look him up on YouTube, it’s a great it’s mostly an interview, but it’s just Max talking. And he talks about his life and about what he’s doing, you know, and it’s like, you just, I can’t I just feel like I’ve lived a sheltered life. Look at what he’s done. You know, now he’s, he’s done. And but where the RK Cree that house rave is supposed to be the best in the world. Really? Yeah. Jerry on what’s in the first category or complimented me, but he surveyed and he count, I think it was like, nearly 400 species of fish on on the house reef. And I’ve heard it from Max and I’ve heard it from a couple other people who lived in the area and died on a regular basis is that you can I’ve dubbed it several times, numerous times at the morning, you know, quite a lot. But you can’t judge it until you know how we work. And the only way you’ll know how it work is work is to dive it regularly. So I’m going to fly for like 10 days and I’m going to dive the shit out of it basically. Yeah, well, I’ll get my head around it and then the evening I’m going to interview maxima and then a hole from there later on the year to go down to Misool where there’s a couple that Andy miners and his wife Maria have built this just amazing. eco resort material eco resort is just phenomenal and they are really you know, exemplified what you can do by being local if hired and trained the locals, it used to be where they were they’re based, used to be a shark finning operation. Okay. And they’ve turned it around. And they,


Matt Waters  10:12

I think I’ve seen articles on this


Don Silcock  10:13

site. It’s phenomenal. It’s phenomenal, though. They, they personify what good looks like, shall we say, when it comes to making a real impact locally? So the sharks are back, you know, the, you know, the, the whole thing is coming back to nature is a powerful thing if we get out of the way. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And what they’re what they’re doing is allowing nature to be itself. And they have they have 24 hour patrols going they finance all to keep out the illegal fisherman, he only said, it’s a marine power, but it’s Indonesia, you know, anything. And so I’m, I hope to be going out on the boats on these, you know, when I’ve died most of the sites on the diving, grey, but I want to go and see how they operate and how they, how they make a difference.


Matt Waters  11:02

While you’re going out there then to write about their and their story on here.


Don Silcock  11:08

Because it’s it needs telling, you know, more the more people know about this, the better we’re all gonna be, you know, which comes to your questions about you know, 10 questions, where


Matt Waters  11:23

do you want to start and you want to go okay, all right. I’ll ask him. You can? You can, you can fire away what you’ve got. Yeah. I might ridicule you in the pub later. Okay, so quickfire round. Question. One. How do you describe your job? Stroke pastime? Definitely a pastime, as a diver to people who are not familiar with your activity?


Don Silcock  11:46

Well, let me just answer that by saying that my kids think I’m some kind of a drug mule. Or some kind of drug dealer. So I go off to these places that have no idea where I’m going to, with, you know, a lot of luggage, they don’t know why I’m doing what I’m doing, you know? And if you try it really depends who you’re talking to. So you’re talking to people who are interested in this stuff, you can get into really interesting conversations, you know, because they are interested in you know, and so all you do that, and you do that. So that leads to really good dialogue. If you talk to somebody who not interested, they look at you as if you’re, you want to drop me off. You know, it depends on the circumstances. You know, if somebody’s interested, I’ll tell them what I do. And then you know, elaborate on that if they ask questions, if they’re not interested, I just shouldn’t fuck up. To


Matt Waters  12:52

just ask you directly, because you’re made but because you’re an old dude. Obviously, super fucking fit. But an old dude that’s doing all this travel? Do you actually get any? Do you ever get the feeling that people are jealous of what you’re doing?


Don Silcock  13:05

Interesting question. The, because you should do. So let me illustrate. So, because I’m an old, and because I’ve had a couple of scare, and and because I’m from the UK. And I use some because I used to, you know, think that if you went on holiday yet to come back with a tan, right? Because that’s the English mindset. You know, how would you how would anybody know you’ve had a holiday? We don’t have a chant. Exactly. Right. Yeah. So in that process, as you get older, you’ve got to have certain things checked. And one of them is my skin. And I’ve had a couple of real scares with skin cancers. So I’m now on this. I was at one point in time when I was getting checked every three months. Got the scars on the back where, you know, bad stuff taken out, you know, which I will say when Scott bites, you know? Yeah, yeah. So, I used it, I went for my six monthly skin check. And it turns out this and I know, the lady who did do these full body scans, uh, you know, looking for blemishes and all the rest of it, and be excused from Argentina and sort of, you know, she knows what I do. And she’s always interested. So I want to go and she’s asking me this and asking me and I’m stood there in my underpants with a full body scan, and you know what, she’s asking me all sorts of questions about this, that and the other day and she was like, really intrigued that I’d been to Peninsula Valdes and Patagonia, Southern Right whales, you know, and blah, blah, blah, you know, so that’s a great conversation, but you can see she’s also looking at me in my underpants thinking, Well, you know, is this guy is not young and he is doing all this travel and all the rest of it. And so, some people, you pick up a vibe, where they look at you and he’s not going to be around for long Yeah. And then the other side of it, she’s, you know, okay is he’s given his own, you know, he’s is, you know, trying to stay fit and active and you know, I do a lot of exercise, but that’s a means to an end for me so I can go and do this year, you know,


Matt Waters  15:19

I’m a summer out. I admire what you do, because I’ve taken the piss for years now. 20 plus years that my goal in life is that when I get old, I want to be and if I get put in a home, I want to be that old, cantankerous sweat that everyone else in the home hates. Because when they say, I wish I’ve done this, you have done that. I want to be the year I’ve done that mate.


Don Silcock  15:46

I just as I said, I’d give up a perfectly good job to do this. I had a really good job with General Electric blah, blah. And I give it up because I wanted to do this, you know, and I’m determined to do it for as long as I can


Matt Waters  16:00

help you. Okay, question two, can you share where this is going? A memorable diving experience that stands out to you as the best diver you’ve ever had. It’s the


Don Silcock  16:10

Southern Right whales. It’s just what I described before that, those two, day four and day five with the cantankerous cough and the playful white Gaff. Without doubt, the best experience I’ve ever had. Phenomenal.


Matt Waters  16:28

Awesome. If someone wanted to pursue a career similar to yours and diving, what advice would you give them


Don Silcock  16:37

don’t give up you don’t win the lottery. Don’t give up your day job. specialise, I guess is get good at something, get really good at something. There are all sorts of channels now that were just not available. When I first got into it. I they the only channel that was available to me back in the day was photojournalism. Back, then there were people like David Dubli, and etc, you know, who were writing for National Geographic and taking photographs. And you know, it just, you know, enthralled and infused me and I just, you know, off I went, and that was the channel, the only channel I could see at that point in time. Now with, you know, social media and all the different outlets, there’s a lot more possibility, but there’s a lot more competition as well. And there’s a lot of people who are winging it. And they might get, you know, a break here and there. But it doesn’t seem to me sustainable. I don’t think so. You wouldn’t want to take a mortgage on, you know, so what you need to do is, is get good at something. You know, I really got an example here in Australia is Matthew Smith. He’s he’s, he’s, he’s really took some nice images. And he knows how to get the word out about what he does. And he’s achieving success. I had a conversation with him a year ago. And he said, I think I can make a living doing this. And I said, well, good luck. But he seems to be doing it. You know, good on him for doing it. For me, I got to a position where I could afford just about to do what I want you to do. And I was determined to do it before I die. Yeah. So that’s what I’m doing. There are people coming through who are much more social media savvy than I am on social media tolerant, I guess is the word. There’s only so much shorter media. I can tell you tolerance is a good word. Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of I mean, my son says, Are you sure you did? Tick tock, dad? Give me a break. He’s gonna look at me. I’m, like, you know, you need to know your strengths and your weaknesses, aren’t you? There’s certain stuff that I can aspire to certain stuff where I’m just not going to go there. Yeah, but have you young, younger and you’re serious? Then you can succeed, but you’ve got to get good at something. Yeah. And so on the world of photography, although it’s expensive, and it’s difficult. It’s not impossible.


Matt Waters  19:30

You’ve got you’ve got to have your niche. And you’ve got to have a niche within a niche. And I think Matt Smith is a good example. So as Matt Crimmins I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s just started recently doing a YouTube channel, and he’s just showing, you know, all the stuff that we do, you know, post post photo editing, but it’s stuff that’s, it’s pretty unique. I mean, there’s not a lot of it out there that diverges or the little secrets of how to do and I think the how to do but it’s probably a really good example a nice hook for B If they want to achieve what they want to do,


Don Silcock  20:01

yeah, there’s it’s amazing what you can do now because, you know, the world is your market now. So yes, diving is a niche. But within that niche, there’s sub niches, you know, okay diving, this, you know, a friend of mine, Katie burrow. She’s specialises in cave diving and cave over photography. And you know, she’s really good at what she does. So you know, that there’s a, there’s a niche that can open up other opportunities for you. So you’ve got to find what you’re doing. So for me, it’s travel history, you know, that’s what I do. And but the thing is I write and not many people read now. What used to be the way forward for journalism, you know, it’s not, you know, people don’t read much these days, you know, and I, I mean, I put huge effort into what I write and research everything to try and you know, but the reality is that people read it. I know.


Matt Waters  21:05

Well, I think, you know, there are people out there who read it. I mean, I read the stuff that you pay on time magazine all the time. However, all of that information that you’re putting out there is going on to the internet. So that information is then used. And the big thing that’s going off at the moment is all the AI writing, so chat GBT and all that. So it’s your stuff. Ya know, those software’s are using AI now to make things for people to be lazy.


Don Silcock  21:33

I won’t mention location. But I remember about three years ago, I went to this diver and got to my room, and there was like this, you know, guide guide, you know, I’m reading. That’s familiar. Can you tell me, I went to my site, and it was just lifted completely off my site. Yeah. And it was in the results. Booklet booklet which I initially, you know, drove me crazy, but I thought well, limitations, you know, so I must be writing something reasonable. But


Matt Waters  22:12

you must be asked, though,


Don Silcock  22:13

when it would have been consulted in the whole thing, as opposed to find out when you sat on the toilet reading? As you do


Matt Waters  22:23

I want a few extra guys.


Don Silcock  22:26

I don’t know what there are, without doubt, more opportunities these these days, but you need to specialise. You need to get your niche and be good.


Matt Waters  22:38

Next question, then, if you could change anything about the diamond industry, or the Scuba diving in general, what would it be?


Don Silcock  22:44

I thought about this question a bit, actually. And I suddenly dawned on me, it’s the business model, that the dive shops work on the is for me, just sucks. The allowing, there are exceptions, but in general terms, it’s all about, you know, getting people signed up for courses, a cheap price that some instructor has to deliver on a shoestring. You know, that the instructors don’t know it is single slavery. Really? Yeah, you know, the, the, they aspire to be an instructor, and suddenly they’re looking after people on a course who, you know, signed got $500 record and, you know, just how much do they get paid? Not a lot is the answer, right. And they work out really hard. And having been in a structure myself many years ago, you know, it’s hard work to get people trained properly. Now your pain, not much, and you’re forcing people to try and persuade their customers to buy gear from the shop or in you know, high margins and all that stuff that goes with it. That to me is not a sustainable business model. It just sucks really, you know, the, the instruction is being exploited the only people who are really winning the owners, because the customers aren’t really winning. They’re not being trained very well, they might, they might I mean, what’s the retention rate? Not more, it’s not gonna be a lot. It’s not a lot. And is it because it’s an adventure sport, actually, because of the business model? My opinion, based on everything I’ve seen is it’s the business model. It just sucks unless somebody is really devoted to this, you know? where’s it gonna leave?


Matt Waters  24:32

I do like the stores that the shops, the operators that refuse to drop their prices, you know, and the one that springs to mind straightaway is Ryan up in Newcastle. You know, when he was on the podcast, he was adamant. This is what you pay and this is what you get in. You’re going to pay for my time and my experience and you’re going to get a quality course. Not so


Don Silcock  24:53

he he’s in a niche in in Yeah, so you know, he’s got the JGR rebreathers and he obviously, I mean, rebury. It’s like childcare. You know,


Matt Waters  25:06

this is not This is basic courses. This is his open water, he refuses to really reduce the prices. Yeah. If you want to train with him even open water level, you’re gonna fucking pay the right price.


Don Silcock  25:17

Okay, well, yeah, but the point I was gonna make about rebury the courses about like childcare, you can really cheap on it, can you? You know, budget childcare, you know? Well, you know.


Matt Waters  25:38

Okay, what are your thoughts on ways to minimise human impact on the oceans?


Don Silcock  25:44

Well, my philosophy, and my very strong belief is we need to educate, inform the, those of us who are fortunate enough to get to interesting places and document them. I feel a moral responsibility. It sounds a bit highfalutin, and you know, full of myself, but I do feel a responsibility to tell the story, which is why, you know, I spend a disproportionate amount of time researching and trying to understand the mechanism of why things happen, and explained that, yes, I realise that my stuff will be stolen and, you know, disappeared into AI and all the rest of that stuff. But at the end of the day, I’m the one who had the privilege, and the pleasure of going through, that’s all, you know, I feel it’s incumbent upon me to document it properly. And it’s only by that the thing is, not many people get under the water. Right. And if you do get underwater, you’re gonna see what’s really there. No, you know, so it’s only a few of us really, who actually get to see and start to understand the incredible mechanism of the sea. You know, how that whole thing works, is mind bogglingly complex, and incredibly powerful. Right? And it’s only you as you start to get it’s only, you know, through travelling and going to these places that you start to piece it all together and understand the bigger picture of how it all works. Not many people do that. Right. And but it’s so important to plan. It’s not your life itself. Right. So we need to educate any form, so people get an appreciation of just how important it is.


Matt Waters  27:40

Yeah. And I think one of the things that kind of dawned on me a while back now, which a lot of people probably think along the same lines, you know, we live on Earth, and there’s, there’s oceans and seas and rivers and all that kind of shine. Actually, when you look at the world, it’s it’s, it’s a world of water that has some dry shit sticking out of it. Exactly, you know, yes. And we need to get that in perspective. You know, if you want to see the real Earth, you need to get beneath the surface,


Don Silcock  28:09

and the interlinking and connectivity throughout that equals those ecosystems, because there’s numerous ones, you know, and the way it’s all fine balance. And once that balance is broken, you get these trophic cascades where you get, you know, an over abundance of this, that or the other that has this impact, you know, and to see all that happening and, and to get an appreciation of it is, you know, we need to inform, yeah, we need to inform,


Matt Waters  28:46

definitely. Okay. So, has your passion for diving, changed over time? And if so, how?


Don Silcock  28:57

Well, better understanding, you know, I remember to say my first shock, I was, I was fucking terrified. I was absolutely terrified. by the side of shock, I thought, I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die. Yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind that was about to die, right. And their points are you know, on Friday, I’m going to do the Great Whites again, you know, my 14th and 15th. Now, you know, hopefully, I’ll come back. But the point is, when, you know, you see these magnificent creatures, and you and if you write about them, like I do, and you start to understand how it all works, you know, you always it’s like a jigsaw really, it’s like this magnificent Jigsaw that starts to come together in your head. So that’s what’s how I’ve evolved, you know, and that’s what fascinates me did to this day, you know, going to go You know, going to see what’s there. And understanding ways that starts to pieces in a jigsaw, magnificent jigsaw or tapestry really all come together give you that this better understanding of how it all works. I was sat next to this, really on this trip to the witters, right? So I was sitting next to this American guy dinner, and he said to me now I’d asked him previously, where, where he worked. And he was at UFC a, he was a professor of biology, not marine biology or biology. Urca. So I made the said, Oh, do you know Jared Diamond? He says, Well, he’s in a different faculty from a different faculty, but I know him professionally. And I mean, you don’t talk about Jared Diamond. So if you want to understand how the world works, read his books. He’s the professor of internet he is now he’s still very active writing magnificently. And it’s one of the books I read a lot. One of the books that kind of opened the door for me, was reading his book guns, germs and steel, because it kind of it’s like the world one on one, it kind of explains how everything is interlinked, you know, and, and then the second book was called collapse, and you know why tipologia agent come and go on. And he’s incredibly well travelled maxima, takes him in his helicopter into remote parts of Roger ampere, and the camp there for days. Right. That’s how you know how serious this guy is. And Max knows he’s in trouble. Anyway. So he said to me, do you know what the Wallace Line is, as yesterday? What’s the issue? What’s your understanding? And I was able to be held your own. It looks to me I mean, this guy’s uh, you know, I mean, this guy. It used to be a CEO of a major pharmaceutical company, and he, you know, a trucker. He changed his life. And he ended up at USAA. And he’s professor of biology, right. Successful guy. But he, you know, well educated very, you know, well versed, shall we say, and so I was able to have explained my understanding of the wireless line, and because that’s really what creates the underwater, biodiversity in Roger ampere is this, you know, wireless was contemporary, Darwin, who, in the 18th 19th century 1830, something, he spent about five years wandering around and documenting all the marine life. And what he came up with was, that was this imaginary line called the Wallace Line, to the east was one set of flora and fauna, and to the west was another and he didn’t know why. The reality is, it’s the Indonesian Fruit Roll that comes down. The prevented one, you know, people aren’t, you know, people, people, flora and fauna, on the scale to the west, the West, right. But it was that it was a flow of water that comes down through the Indonesian, the Indonesian throughflow, as we call it, as it’s cold. And he didn’t know about this. And he’s looking at me and I’m thinking, Did you think I’m bullshitting? He’s a professor at USC, and I’m a fisher from renkon. So it’s that better understanding that allows you to have, you know, a view and have a dinner conversation, should you be sat next to a professor?


Matt Waters  33:59

Is there a particular conservation effort that you’re particularly passionate about? If so, which one and why?


Don Silcock  34:05

Well, I’ve already mentioned at Misool eco resort, over here to pick in on one thing that I know you’ve had Simon Pierce on here with Simon quite well, marine megafauna. They do a great job of what they do. But they don’t have control over there. They have a reasonable degree, they’ve worked very hard on their influence, but they don’t have any authority. Right? So they do a magnificent job of influencing, particularly Mozambique and other areas based on their reputation and everything they do for the greater good, and it’s very impressive. But in terms of an actual example, where a huge tangible difference has been made, to both the flora and fauna, and the people If you would have the best eye I’m aware of, at this point in time is Misool eco resort. And I’m hoping to go there later this year, and really peel the onion and get a better understanding of it. But from what I understand of how it works and everything read about it, it’s phenomenal.


Matt Waters  35:18

And again, I’m I’m on the polka podcast as well. You can do it, if anyone can do it, you can do it. No pressure. If you don’t do it, you’re buying your own fucking again. Okay, of the many safety procedures we have in the industry, if you had to choose one as the most important, what would it be


Don Silcock  35:40

SMD is, is the, you know, a lot of people don’t know how to use one. And they don’t realise just how important it can be to you. It’s, it’s, you know, diving one on one for me, but not many people can use them. You know, a lot of people don’t carry them. You know, you can save your life.


Matt Waters  36:04

Yeah, no, I agree. I did die for the message and a couple of mates. Were going Africa, Shelly Beach, there’s no need for an SMB really because you can back out on the on the sand. And it’s protected. No bugs can go in there. Just put that in there. But a couple of them decided they wanted to practice it do an SMB, and boy did they know the practice. You know? It’s a very simple component safety components. I say very, very important.


Don Silcock  36:33

Very, very important. I mean, I I carry one but I also carry a beacon, you know, but a couple now put my second one in when it was on Nautilus in Sokoto, you know that you can they put one in your pocket for you, when you and I bought one when you know what, the second version is much smaller. But I swear by that done the SMB, which one you got? I got the first one is quite big, it’s about you know. And then the second one is much smaller. And I’ve had about three, four years now. And he’s really good.


Matt Waters  37:08

I can’t remember the name of the one that we got. And it’s really small. Yeah, it’s literally I’ve got a In fact, the canister I’ve got is probably the size of this beer can. But that’s only because I want it to fit in there without crashing and all that kind of stuff.


Don Silcock  37:20

It sounds like generation one of the Nautilus make the accurate they they, as I understand it. But for the Liveaboards Yeah. It’s standard gear or you know for older you know, you got you they put money in UBC. Yeah. And they get the major. I don’t know where Johnny Rob lever. Yeah, yeah, it’s Nautilus.


Matt Waters  37:45

Yeah, I’ve been on a few boats, obviously they give them especially in the Galapagos. Yeah. I, the rescue link is one that I’ve got on. Yeah, it’s, you know, nine times out of 10. I found the ones on remote boats are direct radio link. So you talk to the boat. As long as you can fucking see it. Yes. Yeah. But these ones right. No notices same GPS through the satellite. Cool. What are your top five bucket list destinations? Gonna be a hard one for you?


Don Silcock  38:23

Top of the list is Dominica for probably next year, I want you to sperm whales. I had a goat swimming whales in the Azores about six years ago. Not very well. That’s awesome. But you know, weren’t great interactions. encounters where the most reliable seems to be Dominica you know that. But again, it’s a long haul from here. But yeah, that’s that’s my number one destination number two would be to have New Guinea again. I’m really enjoying being that trip back there. I’ve got last month was really good. And then I’m going at least twice again this year. To


Matt Waters  39:04

back there you go next year as well. And yeah, yeah. What’s early June, you’re going


Don Silcock  39:09

I’m going I’m going in March. I’ll be in Papua New Guinea for a month which is true for your old stomping ground. It’s okay. For a month not to not to produce I’m going to to fee for about eight days and I’m going to Milan Bay. Okay. So early and I’m going on Oceania to do the sudden millbay then round the cell call for New Britain and round to rebel.


Matt Waters  39:37

Okay. Yeah. And then Dan, we’re talking about I think it’s June and June. Next year. We’re looking at doing a an exploratory liveaboard go further up into the Bismarck say


Don Silcock  39:48

really? Oh, yeah, yeah, no, yeah, I talked about that. Yeah. So I it’s, I’m focused right now on 23 of getting everything I’ve got A lot of stuff coming out all your ducks lined up to get all our ducks. 24 Yeah, I’ll be discussing that with him.


Matt Waters  40:06

I was, in fact, just digressing here, but too early. Last time I in fact, I think it was the first first season when he first came on our podcast. Didn’t there? Wasn’t there a landslide or something that the black sand dive site there that it? Actually, I can’t remember it was called, but I thought there was a I thought there was something that occurred at too early that destroyed one of the dive sites. No, no,


Don Silcock  40:30

I’ve not been there for a couple years. So I’ve got I think about nine days. They’re in next thing March. And so yeah, I’ll find that all out. Yeah, but then, in June, July, going back to do the narcos and New Britain and rebel looking for the for the wrecks and the Simpson harbour and maybe shouldn’t be the end of the year. But that’s yeah. And then, sorry, number three, Indonesia. I’m really looking forward to. I spent a lot of time I mean, I live in Indonesia live in Bali. And I’ve done a lot of stuff around Aramco and some other ways the book I’m going back to I’ll be doing in May, I’m going to do Kate grey to interview Matt McLemore, etc. And then I’m going to Lambie back to Lambert got 10 days to to do some critter stuff.


Matt Waters  41:30

Have you been Have you been to lamda? Yes. Yeah. Which which result using


Don Silcock  41:35

diver is Stivers logic down at the bottom I’ve got me on ball for the 10 day just mean a guy yeah. Not cheap but it’s it’s worth it you know? And there’s no like lambda lambda you know, it’s I don’t


Matt Waters  41:50

know I don’t know what about Ambien.


Don Silcock  41:53

I’m when I go back in I’m doing the Chi islands in the far east of Indonesia in November and then I hope from there to go to a missile to to interview Andy miners, etc, and do the patrol. But I’m thinking of going back to amazon before that. So I’ve gone on a few times. I really like it in terms of mock and critters for me. It’s, it’s second to the best for me is Lambie. I’ve had the most success with the multi exotic critters in Lambay. Then I’m born and then patenting again, a Bali, you know, the, you know, like the body and some of the other places, Samurai and Milan Bay. I’ve had jpgs is good. You know, when it’s going it’s got these goals. Good.


Matt Waters  42:48

Dan was Dan was telling me that they’ve dredged the jetty, they’re really Yeah, in a couple of years ago.



I didn’t know that. No, I


Matt Waters  42:55

didn’t. I don’t know whether he’s got it wrong. But


Don Silcock  42:59

they’re not going to go in rebel. Johnny’s jetty, which I’ve dived a couple of times isn’t it’s called on each day. And we’ve got to do a bit more than that when I in July. So more to follow on that. May be asked that question next time. Because my information is a bit all right now. But anyway, there’s Indonesia, then fourth, and less will be Japan. Okay, yeah. So there’s some really interesting stuff in Japan and some nice sharp stuff. Sharknado, as they call it, on the two peninsula, and then fifth would have to be going back to Argentina for this. You usually end up going everywhere, twice. Yeah. And it was so good that you know, I’ll have to go back at some point.


Matt Waters  43:46

You want to make it loose because there’s not going to be there for you.


Don Silcock  43:50

Which means growing up now,


Matt Waters  43:55

yeah, yeah, go downside bigger? Yeah. Okay, last one. How would you describe the dive community to a non diver


Don Silcock  44:05

in a word complicated? It’s are you talking around the Australian dive community I guess, gives it slightly


Matt Waters  44:17

while the date the dive community that you’ve been associated with in that 9 million years that you’ve been diving. So it’s not just Australia?


Don Silcock  44:26

Well, you’ve got to put it in perspective of, I mean, I started off with Visa UK. And in our back in the day when I started with Visa, you know, you could take your six months to get into the sea and you know, yet to be able to tread water for about three hours. So it was really strict at the time, but I am the diver and today because of that, you know, I became an advanced instructor with Visa back in the late 80s. And you know, I was really proud of that Basics obviously have evolved a lot and changed, but it’s still fairly responsible. I think. I, I saw a lot of parallels with GE when I was doing my courses last year. What do you hear in, in Sydney, there’s a real, you know, vibe around it all, you know, the technical dive in, but then you get people take, you know, people take things to access normally, you know, you friend of mine calls gee, you know, the million black. You know, so and then you’ve got the underwater photography community, and there’s, you know, 50 Shades of Grey there of people doing well, people pretending to be what do well, and you know, a lot of people bullshitting about this than the other, you know? So it’s, it’s complicated, you know, it’s at the end of the day, we all like the ocean. But, you know, the, I guess the thing is, these days, because it’s ultra media, everybody’s trying to, you know, urinate farther than do this, you know, there’s a lot of show of people showing off and, you know, pretending to be doing this, that and the other, that really irritates me, frankly, you know, is that because I’m old, but you probably, I was probably as entertaining as anybody when I was younger. So I don’t know, I’m probably the wrong person to ask, you know, because I have been around that long, I’ve seen that many shades, if at all. I just let it all wash over me, you know, I just, I just get on with what I’m doing. You know, I am on a mission to do as much as I can, while I still can, and try and get as good at match up for you know that what, what matters to me is for diving, this is photography, I want to get as good as I possibly can at what I’m doing, and take exceptional images and get recognition for that. Because of the just Sun union computer was fine, you know, so


Matt Waters  47:08

yeah, well, I think it’s fair to say, mate, that you’re doing a very good job of it, and you’re getting a worthy recognition as well.


Don Silcock  47:16

Well, I don’t know. I kind of live in a vacuum. So I don’t I honestly don’t really know. I mean, I do seem to do okay. On social media. I try not to slog that to death. Only put meaningful stuff as meaningful as I can be about also. Yeah, hopefully. But


Matt Waters  47:37

I felt well, I think that’s an element that a lot, a lot of like, what you kind of pointed out now is the people that say photos just took them up. This is this is a thing that I took a photo of today, everything that you put up has a description and a meaning behind it. You know, there’s never, there’s never a photo of like what I got. And that’s it. There’s, there’s always a bit of a story or a description. And its content, and it’s content that people absorb.


Don Silcock  48:03

Well, that’s good feedback I see change for me this year or step change, for me is the been getting some one on one instruction on how to properly process images in Photoshop, which is obviously a contentious subject in itself. You know, I mean, should you? Should you? Should you do anything in Photoshop? You know, people say, Well, you shouldn’t really do it. But for me, it’s just a digital darkroom. And the fundamental thing is that, if you really get into this, the chopper the, I mean, they’re really good. I mean, all cameras are good these days. You know, you can’t blame the camera anymore. No, that’s not the cameras, you if you can get a decent image, it’s not the camera, right? Even, you know, one or two generations ago, cameras are still better than the vast majority of people on them. Because they don’t try to use them properly. Right. So you, I will never upgrade until I’ve tested the outer limits of what a camera can do until I know that there’s a specific function that’s lacking


Matt Waters  49:15

that you need to move. Yeah, right. Yeah.


Don Silcock  49:18

So I’ll give you a good example. I one of the big improvements in my photography, or last couple years has been the I own I only actually got it going about a year ago was high speed sync, which allows me to use much higher shutter speeds to with my images, which creates a very dramatic effect if you if you learn how to use it properly. You need a powerful strobe to do that, and there’s only a couple of strobes that will support high speed sync. But you combine that with I’m currently still using a DSLR using a nick on da 50 Because I don’t think right now there’s anything better than for underwater. I use mirrorless or above water for landscape photography. I’ve got medium form on shitload of other stuff that got an arm and a leg books otherwise my wife contributed to this podcast. But for underwater, I’m still using the da 50. And when I look at the quality of the pixels that I get from that, using the W A CP that are referred to before, for wide angle, and I’ve also invested in the Nottingham a dual U ml, which is the extended wide macro lens, which is a really strange piece of kit, but it allows you to do really close up wide angle use on this long extended thing. He looks like proctology. But that’s that handfish image was took with that. But the quality of the optics that’s available now, the water corrected optics from by us Nautica combined with the quality of the pixels in the day 50 lit with the strobes are using high speed sync gives me stuff that when I look at it, the pixel level is phenomenal. Yeah, right. So it’s it. But it’s just ones and zeros at that level. Right? It’s the raw data. Ansel Adams created his phenomenal images in the dark room. Right, he went out with his his large format camera and photograph the Yosemite and then he took that piece of photographic film and developed it in the darkroom and dodged and burned and created the magnificent images that he did. Right? That we’re still trying to replicate to this day. Right. So what you’re doing with your camera underwater, if you know how to use it, is capturing some phenomenal digital data. Photoshop allows you then to at the pixel level. And something I’ve got into is luminosity masking that allows you to select specific pixels, and then bring out an enhance and dodging and burning is exactly the same but digital version, what Ansel Adams did all years ago, right? And you can create very dramatic images from very dramatic images and who you’re doing your one on ones with. It’s an Italian lady called Isabella to Bouchy, Google, Google her Isabella, T, A, B, a C, C H


Matt Waters  52:26

AI, and either in that remotely or is she here in Sydney? No, no,


Don Silcock  52:29

she’s in Bologna. And I just did a two hour session zoom session with her on Sunday morning. Actually, she’s if you look at a landscape images. And an interesting thing, I’ll come back to them. And if you look at our lousy images, and they’re absolutely to die for, you know, she she gets it right in camera. And even when she can’t go right, absolutely right in camera. So for like, depth of field, she’ll do image stacking, and then puts it all together and she corrects any move and blah, blah. But she gets this fantastic. Digital negative, shall we say? And then she enhances it and brings out details and you look at images and they’re absolutely stunning. So I first of all, I I reached out to her and I signed up for some of the training for landscape. But it turns out she’s interested in underwater. Get out of it. Yeah. So he’s really, really, really interested in me now. Because you see Mike because I said, Well, how would you process this? And how would you process that? So, too, I can’t tell you how life changing is. To take the first one I did it was was a great white images. Right now it’s a really good shot, down taken down on the ocean floor, in the cage, obviously, where this large male came in right up close and just stopped and looked at me. Right and I captured the really nice image. incredibly sharp. Very, very good. And I was over the moon with it. That’s all I wonder what Isabella would how she would process it. Because I processed it and I got what I thought was a good result. And she ordered it. And she and she worked on it and it was like, holy shit. The difference between what I done and what she did.


Matt Waters  54:32

Back in nappies.


Don Silcock  54:33

It was it was mind boggling. Now. You’ve got to get a good image in the first place. If you don’t have a good image, it’s lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig. You’re trying to manipulate a bad image. It’s lipstick on a pig. Yeah, right. If you get a good image, and you’ve done everything right, in camera, then you have a cat numbers with which you can create a phenomenal image. But there’s no free lunch, you’ve got to get the good image in the first place. Yeah. And that’s, you know, and the thing about underwater photography is it’s people like, you know, what is underwater photography? Well, it’s like, will you be in the right place the right time with the right gear, you know how to use it, and you work quickly, because you just milliseconds down there, you know that the car and I’ve worked out in advance are gonna do what I was going to do. I thought, I’ve got to centre weighted metering, because it’s why, you know, fast shutter speed because it’s moving. And I got the images, right. And that’s how I got so I got back to Sydney. What do you got for 55 hours, but you know, you’re not I mean, it’s like, you look at that, and you think, Wow, I did it. Now, what can you do with it? It’s not a pig. It’s a good image.


Matt Waters  55:58

Me, I think well, yeah. Five hours in Yeah, probably keep going. She’ll go to the pub. Yeah, let’s go. All right. It’s, it’s fucking awesome to catch up with you again. It’s been a long time. Far too long. Thanks again for coming on the show.


Don Silcock  56:14

Thank you. It’s always a pleasure to come in. And you know, as my wife will say, You do like talking about yourself. I get a chance to talk about


Matt Waters  56:23

nothing wrong with a bit of self promotion. I


Don Silcock  56:28

know it’s really good. I mean, lots Yeah, ground as well. You know what you’ve done what I’ve done, and it’s, it’s a pleasure to come in.


Matt Waters  56:34

Yeah. Fantastic. All right, buddy. Let’s hit that pub. Ladies and gents, hope you’ve enjoyed the content, and we’ll see on the next episode. Ciao for now.

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