Suzie Coombes in the sun, as seen on the telly.

SPANISH DIVE ADVENTURES started as an idea in the back of Rob Drewetts mind. Robs career began as an underwater cameraman in Koh Tao, Thailand, before he moved to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to film with the best in the industry, in terms of equipment and people, at the Save Our Seas foundation.
After countless hours under water with his camera and a multitude of marine life, his work finally brought him to Spains sunny southern coast, where the filming of SDA took place.
A small team was put together - and when I say small, I mean small. Rob took on more than half the tasks in his roles as underwater cameraman, editor and producer. We had another cameraman for topside filming, Bob Wilkins. James Clements brought us the sound and, finally, I was offered the job of presenting the programmes.
This was perfect for me, because I love scuba diving and jumped at the chance to explore the reefs off the Costa del Sol. I was also keen to work with such an experienced team. So then there were four of us.
All we needed were some dive centres happy to take us for a days diving and show us what their area had to offer. As the programmes were to be shown on Skys Living in Spain channel, 293, broadcast to viewers across Spain and Britain, we had plenty of volunteers. We encountered some fascinating, beautiful and unexpected sites.
Over the years the Costa del Sol, and the Mediterranean as a whole, has had huge pressure put on it by commercial trawling eating into fish populations. The fishing boats have been allowed to come in close to buoylines protecting swimmers in the summer, and as close to the beach as possible in winter.
While filming we found that a lot of the dive centres were at the forefront in trying to get local councils and the national government to recognise the problem. They have been pressing for more protected areas, in a bid to encourage fish back to the Med with time allowed for them to repopulate.
One of the already protected areas, Canterrajan, is a shining example of the success these projects can have. We found it spectacularly pristine and full of life, providing a nursery for hundreds of damselfish, sardines and more. The area has been allowed to regenerate its eco-system.
A few miles north-east in Marina del Este, La Herradura, we were told that enough damage had been undone for seahorses to return to their habitat.
They were once numerous along this coast, but gradually began to disappear as trawlers ripped up hundreds of square metres of their seagrass home.
Continuing pressures brought on these trawlers by the dive centres is now allowing the natural habitats to return. We have yet to see a seahorse, however!
Dive centres are also campaigning for the sinking of more artificial reefs, to provide more areas on which
marine life can exist, and to provide training zones for divers and prevent the more established reefs suffering long-term damage.
Some of the things we came across under water were breathtaking. We knew that the impressive but elusive sunfish sometimes came up from the depths to use the reefs in La Herradura as a cleaning station. Our mission became to find one of these strange but beautiful characters, and I was awestruck when I first saw one.
Sunfish eyes are so huge and trusting. If you give these creatures time and space and gently watch them, they will stay and put on a great show.
Ours clearly wanted grooming, although its silvery-blue, leathery skin already looked sparkling clean.
It manoeuvred itself, signalling to the wrasse that they could move in. Immediately they started picking off every parasite they could.
This amazing spectacle was over all too quickly. I couldnt believe we were watching it just off the coast of Spain!

ONE INCIDENT CAME CLOSE to topping this, however. We had the rare experience of seeing a sea cucumber rear up and ejaculate its seminal fluid into the sea in the hope of a chance encounter with a females eggs.
This happens only when conditions are perfect, so we were lucky. We werent the only ones, as a couple of cheeky gobies decided to move in for a free feed!
The reefs off the Spanish coast here are mainly wrecks and rocky outcrops covered in an array of hard corals and anemones, but I was very pleased to discover a few delicate sea-fans in the more protected areas.
Rob had an easy time with the camera as far as finding variety and colour, including the jazzy vibrant hues of the nudibranchs we would often see making their slow journeys here and there around the reef.
We saw everything from tiny hairy ones to fat luminous blue numbers.
Photographers should not expect Red Sea standards in terms of huge shoals of fish or sharks, but there are plenty of co-operative moray and conger eels, octopuses and scorpionfish to see.
Filming in Spain was easy in terms of weather, because it gets around 350 days of sunshine a year, and luck was on our side with visibility, which was mostly 10-15m.
Youre not likely to need more than shorts and bikinis topside in the summer months, but the water can still be chilly, so we would dive in 7mm wetsuits and sometimes hoods.
I felt cold only on one occasion, and it doesnt take long to warm up.
It was an interesting journey, and one of those times when I realised you really shouldnt judge a book by its cover.
Many of those who recognise the southern coast of Spain as a possible in the long list of diving destinations probably rank it somewhere near the bottom. However, after diving on most of the sites from Nerja to Tarifa, I would say it should be shunted up this list, especially if youre a UK diver wanting to make the most of a long weekend.
A two-hour flight, sun, tapas, sangria and fabulous diving! What more could you want



Octopus
Octopus
scorpionfish
scorpionfish
an
an over-excited sea cucumber with an
Sunfish
Sunfish seeks cleaning station on the Costa del Sol.
Action
Action taken by dive centres is helping to repopulate Spanish reefs.