scuba diving in Belize Blue hole

Dive Destination: Scuba Diving In Belize

Ahhh Belize. There sure is a lot to do in this one of the smallest countries in Central America. From diving flourishing reefs and the iconic Blue Hole to exploring ancient Mayan ruins and trekking through the jungle, there is something for everyone. This laid back country is a scuba diver’s dream. Unlike most of central America, the official language is English, with the locals speaking a mixture of French creole and English.

There are multiple courses of action you can take upon touching down in Belize city, but we recommend getting out of there asap. Belize city is notorious for it’s high crime rate, and while most tourists should be safe, most of the adventure lies in the keys or inland. While reports of violent crime are the first thing you will read about Belize, it really only applies to the capital city. Our team had no problems at all during our stay. With a little common sense it is a fantastic country to visit for anyone regardless of travel experience.

So…how was the scuba diving in Belize? Put simply, AMAZING. The reefs are full of life and the visibility is fantastic, usually over 60-80 ft but can be easily over 100 ft +. There are many atolls that dot the coast and if you are travelling to Belize specifically to dive, then you will mostly likely be staying on one or 2 of the most noted cayes.

Caye Caulker is a charming little Rasta island a quick 40 minute water taxi from the mainland. It’s so small there are actually no cars on the island, just sandy streets with golf carts zipping by. Everything is within walking distance and most dive sites are only 20 minutes boat ride away. A VERY laid back vibe covers the island and while you won’t find too much in terms of crazy nightlife there are a couple bumpin’ spots such as the infamous I on I Regge Bar for those travelers looking to get wild after a day of diving. The food is excellent in every spot our team tried out and cheap, with most meals running around $10-12 USD per person and a cold beer about $2-3. The island is inhabited by locals and a bunch of backpackers, so making friends is pretty much guaranteed. This was our favorite spot during the trip, and coincidentally where we got a chance to try out the best scuba mask of 2015.

scuba diving in belize caye caulker
Caye Caulker, Belize. Laid back as it comes…

The other major destination of note for Divers is San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, a 20 minute water taxi ride from Caye Caulker or about an hour from the mainland direct. Here the dive sites are even closer, many a 5-10 minute boat ride. San Pedro itself is a busier version of Caye Caulker, several cars can be found in the main town, but still most locals rely on their trusty golf carts. lots of small local bars and several beach front night clubs round out the nightlife. There are an incredible amount of dive shops that all seem to be competing for business which means the price of a 2 tank dive was extremely reasonable. Several dive sites we would recommend you request would be Tackle Box and Esmeralda. Tackle box has several very cool swim-throughs loaded with Jacks, and Esmeralda was swarming with Nurse sharks and several Grey Reef sharks. After 10+ dives in the area we realized scuba diving in Belize would be hard to beat for our next trip!

scuba diving in belize reef swim through
A gorgeous swim through in the reef

Other major notable dive sites, Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe Islands and Glover’s Reef – lie 30 to 60 miles off the mainland, beyond the immense barrier reef. They offer fish and dense walls of coral that disappear 3,000 feet below. Ranked among Belize’s best wall dives, Turneffe elbows’ southern tip is a busy intersection of currents and big fish; you’ll see schools of jacks, permit and barrel sponges. The walls at Lighthouse Reef’s Half Moon Caye are shot through with innumerable tunnels and swim-throughs and packed with huge barrel and tube sponges, yellowtail snappers, eagle rays and garden eels. So regardless of where you choose you shouldn’t be disappointed. When scuba diving in Belize, wall dives tend do be deeper, so bringing your own personal dive computer is recommended.

If you are lucky to visit Belize any time between March and June, be sure to head south to Placencia. This is prime Whale shark territory. They come to feed on fish spawning and your chances of seeing one are high if the sea conditions are right. Most dive operators will offer both scuba diving and snorkeling with the gentle giants. Overall it’s easy to see why anyone who has been scuba diving in Belize will heartily recommend it!

scuba diving in belize with whale sharks
Being dwarfed by the biggest fish in the sea…an amazing feeling.

Finally, the famous Blue Hole. How is it?  The general consensus seems to be…underwhelming. While it is considered a must dive for any scuba diver visiting Belize, most people we talked to were disappointed in the experience, especially after a 2+ hour boat ride on bumpy seas. It is a cool sensation descending into nothingness but there is not much wildlife to see and we enjoyed our other dives while scuba diving in Belize much more. Although like the wall dives it is a good idea to bring a personal dive computer to add some extra confidence as the dives there tend to be deep and for advanced divers.

Weather: Subtropical climate, which means warm year-round, especially on the coast. luckily, a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean sea moderates hot summer temps on the Cayes and Atolls. Expect summer Mid 80’s to low 70’s in summer. Winter is a bit cooler, with highs in the low 80s and lows in the high 60s.

Average Water Temp: High 70s in winter to mid-80s in summer, you only need a 3mm wetsuit or even just a rash guard/skin suit.

Average Visibility: On the barrier reef and atolls, vis is usually ~70 ft but can clear up to 100 feet or more, but a bit less inside the reef.

Entry Documents: A passport is required, plus a return or ongoing ticket.

Food: Delicious mix of fresh seafood and local creole dishes. Not to be missed!

Hopefully this article gives you a good handle on scuba diving in Belize and provides some inspiration in between scuba diving trips to hop on a plane and get wet! Happy adventures under the waves everyone 🙂


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scuba diver in costa rica

Costa Rica: PADI Open Water Certification Part II

Read part I here

The sleek white bow of the boat cut through the choppy waves of the pacific ocean as the early morning sun danced across the surface. A cool breeze made the blazing sun bearable as sea spray blasted off the sides of the boat.  The engine roared as it sped us towards the first dive site of the day: Tortuga, just off the coast of Playa del Coco, Costa Rica. Images of every undersea documentary I had ever watch were playing through my mind as we prepared to do our first open water dive. My heart rate increased and I noticed I was gripping the lip of my seat tightly, probably a good thing as the boat was swaying about rather erratically. I heard the pacific was a different beast than the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean and looking into the emerald green depths I wondered what lurked below the surface. The worst part is I forgot to bring a GoPro!

Geared up and ready to rock!

Small islands dotted the coast line and the boat slowed as we neared a small cluster, waves smashing across the jagged rocks surrounding them, sending sea water 15 feet into the air. Martin’s voiced  snapped back my attention and he went over the dive objectives and skills we would be practicing. I listened carefully, well as carefully as someone excited to go scuba diving for the first time can. We would be descending down a line due to the current that was common in the area and once settled on the bottom would do a tour of the reef, practice some basic skills and see what wildlife we could find. With all the logistics sorted, it was time to gear up! I grabbed my wetsuit and dived over the side, easily slipping it on in the water. Right away I noticed the current and had a small swim to get back to the boat after only a few seconds. I hauled myself back on board and clipped on my BCD and weights. Lincoln and I did our buddy check, BWRAF (Buoyancy, Weights, Regulators,Air and Final check) was easy to remember with a little saying Martin taught us “Bruce Willis Ruins All Films”  I still have that run through my head to this day any time I am getting ready to go diving.

We would be doing a back roll entry for this dive and even having practiced it in the pool the day before I was a little nervous, there is a big difference between a 2 foot tall wall at the pool and a 6-7 foot drop off the side of a large boat. A little burst of air into my BCD to keep me afloat on the surface and I was ready. I watched Lincoln splash back into the water and give the OK sign and steadied my hand against my regulator and mask and let myself slip backwards off the boat. I looked up at the sky for a split second before I crashed into the swirling sea of bubbles and my view was filled with the bottom of the boat for a moment before I bobbed back up to the surface and made my way to the mooring line we would be descending along. Once the group was all assembled Martin gave the signal to do a 5 point descent and we began our adventure under the waves.

Visibility was about 25 ft, not amazing but I didn’t mind, I was having too much fun. I slowly descended and watched the line disappear into the depths. I was the last to reach the bottom, where everyone was waiting for me. I signalled what was up and Martin nodded and gave the sign asking if I was ok. I gave the affirmative back and we started off on our dive, Linc next to me as my dive buddy. Immediately I was blown away by the sheer amount of life surrounding us everywhere we looked. Large schools of fish darted in between the craggy rocks of the reef, large puffer fish milled about looking inquisitively at us as we swam past and several spotted eagle rays glided past us effortlessly and disappeared off into the haze. I was amazed and felt sea water creeping into my mask and realized I was grinning and causing my mask to leak. I quickly cleared it using the skills we had learned and went right back to soaking in the incredible scenery.

Spotted Eagle Ray

A large moray eel was lurking in a large crevice staring out at us, its mouth open in what I assumed was a snarl (this is actually just how they breath). My mind flashed back to the stories I had heard of people losing a finger or having a chunk taken out of their arm by these powerful creatures and I respectfully kept my distance. A good lesson to learn, nothing in the ocean is out to get you or hurt you, as long as you are respectful of each animal. You are a visitor in their world after all. We continued along the reef and came across several lion fish and martin pointed out a couple extremely well camouflaged scorpion fish. I would have simply passed by them thinking they were rocks. Every creature was so unique and well adapted to its under water world, predator and prey alike. This was exceeding everything I had always dreamed about.

a cheeky little puffer fish

The skills we would be showing off that day were mask removal and regulator recovery, something I was hoping would go smoothly. In the pool it was fine but with 20 meters of water above you its a different story. Lucky for me they went off without a hitch and gave me a big boost in confidence in my ability to not drown myself. With the official business out of the way we were able to continue our tour of the reef and enjoy all the crazy sights it had to offer. There is something special about the feeling of floating weightless watching all these micro stories unfold and I knew I was hooked for life. It boggles my mind to think all this life exists over 70% of the earth’s surface most people never get to experience first hand. As we ascended back up the mooring line, doing out safety stop at 15 ft for 3 mins, I had a lot to contemplate and a new found level respect for the ocean and life in general. This to me is one of the biggest benefits of scuba diving, it makes you realize just how small you are on this planet and how lucky you are to be here to experience it, even if for a short time.

A cheeky little puffer fish

I broke the surface with a huge grin plastered on my face, swallowed a mouthful of the sea while switching to my snorkel and paddled my way to the boat. Climbing the ladder was a little shaky as the boat swayed side to side and I flopped down on the seat and unclipped my gear. I turned to look at Linc and saw a big grin that mirrored my own. Scuba diving for the first time (and every time since) was an amazing experience. And it was only the first dive of the day.

A day and 3 more dives later we broke the surface as fully certified open water divers. Martin’s easy to follow instruction had made the entire process a blast and I was eager to continue learning new skills. As the sun set over Costa Rica we clinked our beers together in appreciation with all the staff of the dive shop and eagerly listened to tales of various lessons learned and some cautionary tales from all the experienced divers around the table. My log book had so many more pages to fill and I couldn’t wait to get back in the ocean. With 5 days left on our trip Lincoln turned to me and said “SO, think we should do our advanced open water?” I just smiled in response as the warm evening breeze flowed through the open air bar bringing with it the smell of the sea. He already knew my answer.

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Gear Review: Best Scuba Mask of 2015

The Epitome of Luxury…The Best Scuba Mask of 2015…

I winced as I punched in my credit card number. I will be candid, $200 for a mask is pretty steep, especially seeing as it didn’t come with a snorkel. Having tried the Atomic Aquatics Venom at my local scuba shop, I knew it was awesome. A great field of view, which surprised me, having been a fan of panoramic masks since I bought my first mask when I started diving. My mind flashed back to how it felt in the dive shop and I smacked my finger across the enter button, sealing the deal. I certainly wasn’t going to pay the extra $50 the dive shop was charging when I could find it online much cheaper. A few days later the package arrived, just in time for my upcoming trip to Belize. Here is why we are naming the venom our best scuba mask of 2015…

best scuba mask atomic venom
fresh out the box…

Recently I had taken to the advice given to me by a close friend when it came to buying snowboarding equipment. “Don’t skimp man, otherwise you are going to have to re-buy gear in a year or two.” Lo and behold, the $100 snowboard boots I grabbed on discount broke within one season and were frustrating to deal with for the last few weeks of season. I can guarantee next time I buy some boots I am going for the brand and style I can splurge for vs the cheap end of season leftovers. With this in mind I wanted to find the best scuba mask I could possibly invest in.

Anyways, back to scuba diving! For the last couple years  I have been pretty satisfied with my Cressi Panoramic mask, but it still leaked on most dives(a common problem for us bearded folk) and I knew it was time to upgrade as I became more serious about diving. I am planning on going to Malaysia to do my dive-master course at the end of the year and I want to bring an awesome mask and fins along. Having heard amazing things about this mask, based on the user reviews on Amazon (especially the facial hair aspect) I headed to my local dive shop to try it on and make sure it fit. I asked them what their best scuba mask recommendation would be and it was the Venom and the ScubaPro Synergy Truefit Dive Mask. Upon trying them both I knew one of them was going to be our best scuba mask of 2015…

Cut to 2 weeks later. I rolled back into the azure waters of a local Belize reef and began my descent. The visibility was great and again I was stunned by the wide field of view this mask offered, not quite a panoramic, but also there was no annoying lens seam I had become accustomed to over the last couple years on my old mask. Also the large teardrop shaped glass lets you see clearly below you without having to move your head. The lens on this mask is HUGE and crystal clear. It’s not going to give you x-ray vision of course but it is one of the best lenses I had encountered so far. I realized I had the mask a bit too tight and quickly eased out the tension on the strap with the large chunky buttons on the clasps. I don’t understand why all scuba masks don’t have this feature, it’s a no brainer.

Throughout my dive along the reef I was waiting for the usual leak around my beard/mustache. By the time I ascended from my first dive I was thinking it was a fluke. I was amazed to find over the course of a week, my mask leaked maybe 3x during 12 dives.  The skirt on this mask is soft, but not too soft that if lets water slip in for anyone with facial hair. It also didn’t hurt the underside of my nose like so many masks I had tried before. I was instantly happy for my purchase based on that fact alone. The only thing I wish was it came with a neoprene mask strap, but I have a couple of those kicking around anyways.

best scuba mask 2015 in action

Over a week of diving later and I was SO happy with laying down the extra cash for my new mask. I even let the other members of the team try it out on a few dives (begrudgingly) and they agreed it was pretty much the Rolls Royce of all our masks, hence why we are naming it the best scuba mask of 2015. There are a few choice pieces of scuba gear I would recommend investing in: Your Fins, Dive Computer….and above all your mask. The whole point of exploring under water is to see amazing sights and I would happily spend another $200 to ensure that on all my dives. No one likes a foggy, leaky, frustrating mask. I’m sure this scuba mask will accompany me around the world on many dives for a many years to come. Especially seeing as it comes with a lifetime warranty.

If you are thinking about grabbing the Atomic Aquatics Venom…do it. Hold off going out to resturants for a week or so to offset the extra cost because it is well worth it. Earns it’s spot as our best scuba mask of 2015! Enjoy and safe diving 🙂

best scuba mask 5 star review

>> Click Here to find it discounted online + Free Shipping<<

Runner up:

ScubaPro Synergy Truefit Dive Mask– Another amazing dive mask but the Field of view wasn’t quite the same. The fit and Seal was phenomenal though.

Thanks for checking out our Best Scuba Mask of 2015 Review, if you are looking for more info on masks be sure to take a look at our Top 10 Scuba Masks list



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scuba diving inspiration

Inspiration Between Scuba Diving Trips


Since this video was posted 6 months ago, I have loaded it up every few days to receive a constant stream of motivation to further my scuba skill set into a full time passion. PADI is always putting out great content and this particular clip really speaks to me on a personal level. Leaving daily life behind to slip into another world beneath the waves gets my heart pounding. Not to mention the local beer 😉 It’s stuff like this I send to my friends to motivate them to get their PADI certification. Check’er out:

I love the idea of travelling around the globe exploring anywhere and everywhere with great scuba diving. The current goal is to head to Cozumel, Mexico in August 2015 to go scuba diving with whale sharks. My dive buddy and I have been chasing them around central america with no luck on our last 2 trips and I’m eager to be dwarfed by the biggest fish in the sea. That’s an experience that should leave the ol’ jaw hanging no doubt. When it comes to travelling, it’s important to remind myself that the benefits far outweigh the  financial costs if you do it smartly. For example, staying in hostels while backpacking  around Costa Rica to get my PADI open water certification saved me a boatload of cash and also helped me meet some amazing people. A far richer experience than being locked in an all inclusive resort compound.

Surrounding yourself with inspiration to travel is a great way to avoid getting caught up in the daily grind if you work any type of office job, and with so much great media out there it’s really not hard to do. Speaking of which, above is another fantastic video I load up whenever I am in the mood to go travelling. So pretty much at least once a week 🙂 Probably the most effective advertisement for a travel company ever, and I stumbled across it completely by accident. Great words to take to heart from Alan Watts.

Scuba diving is a passion of mine and I am glad to share my sources of inspiration with all of you 🙂


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scuba diving in costa rica beach

Costa Rica: Open Water Diver Certification Part I

The plane’s wheels bounced off the cracked tarmac of the runway as we touched down with a jolt on the San Jose landing strip. I looked out the window and off into the thick jungle surrounding the airport. Everywhere you looked it was green and lush. “Welcome to Jurassic Park…” I thought to myself as I soaked in my surroundings. Costa Rica would be my home for the next 2 weeks as me and my best friend Lincoln backpacked around the country. We had a rough outline in place of where we wanted to stay, with the last half of the trip scheduled to do our open water PADI certification. Finally I was going to get the chance to go scuba diving! After years of dreaming about it, it was time to actually explore under the waves.

We bounced out of San Jose almost immediately, everyone we met warned us it was pretty sketchy and I was eager to get out of the big cities and on the road. We spent a few nights in Jaco, a smaller, albeit extremely touristy  surfer town and I immediately fell in love with the local food, pretty cheap and the fish tacos were amazing. Given the spirit of the town, I decided to give surfing a try having never done it, and spent an evening falling off my board and splashing about under one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen. The sun was back lighting the water as the waves crashed around me, pummelling me into the shallows. An cool place but it was time to move on.


Our Hostel in Jaco Beach

Next up was Montezuma, a sleepy little town with dirt roads full of potholes and on the verge of being engulfed by the dense jungle surrounding it on all sides. We met some awesome fellow travellers from the US, and a couple Brits who were making their way across Central and South America over 6 months. It was in this place, a musty old $10 a night hostel I was overcome with a sense of wanderlust that sticks with me to this day. The feeling of being on the road with your backpack, meeting like minded people and experiencing sights you have never seen before was wonderful. I vowed to never again go to a all inclusive resort, this experience was so much richer.

The whole trip diving was still in the back of my mind and as we made our way towards Playa Del Coco the excitement was steadily mounting. After a few hours on an extremely rickety old schoolbus that was used as local transit, we arrived at our destination. I could almost feel my fillings still rattling about in my teeth for the next hour or so but quickly surmised that for about $6 to travel halfway across the country it was well worth it. We made our way down the long main street and stopped by the dive shop to confirm for the next day. After searching around on Trip Advisor for a while, we had settled on Rich Coast Diving. Everything was set and after bite to eat at one of the local bars, I headed to bed imagining what the lessons would have in store for me.

The blinding sun came streaming through the windows, covered only by a few wooden slats. It was 7AM and already sweltering hot. Since about 5 in the morning a rooster had been shrieking at the top of its lungs and I was ready to get out of there and into the water.

Upon arriving at the dive shop the  we were informed we would be being trained by a PADI course director, which was a pretty cool opportunity. Everyone was super friendly and the only students that day were Lincoln and myself. After filling out the required forms and a little basic review, we grabbed our gear and loaded it into the back of pickup and set off to the local pool to learn some skills. Sitting on the side of the trucks bed while it bounced over the shattered asphalt and not being thrown overboard or taking a low hanging branch to the face was a skill on its own. Ahhh adventure!

Heading out to the pool for our first lesson

A quick rundown on the gear and how to properly set up our kit followed and after squeezing into a wetsuit for the first time in my life (Protip: get into your wetsuit in the water, it’s 10x easier) and strapping on my BCD it was time to get wet. I plunged into the water via giant stride entry and watched the bubbles explode around me as I took my first breaths underwater. Even in a pool this was a cool experience. After learning some basic skills such as mask clearing, regulator recovery and buoyancy control we had time to practice what we learned and become more comfortable in the gear. Martin (our instructor) was extremely patient with us and answered every little question and expanded on the answer. By the time we left the pool for the day I was already hungry to get in the ocean, but we had another pool day ahead of us. As the sun went down and I sat munching away on a delicious plate of diced chicken and rice I knew I had made the right choice in learning how to scuba dive. This would be something that would stick with my for the rest of my life.

Confined water lessons make learning easy

Day 2 involved more pool training and the last little bit of theory. Having done our e-learning online was great for saving a ton of classroom time. The 400m surface swim was a little taxing at first and I began to worry as my muscles started to feel starved of oxygen, that is until I saw Lincoln breeze past me in a lazy back crawl, flipping onto my back made it much easier. After some safety training and practising the CESA we were wrapped in the pool. The next time I descended it would be in the open ocean.

Part II 



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padi certified scuba divers

Why I Became a PADI Certified Scuba Diver

Ever since I was young I have always been fascinated by anything to do with exploring the ocean. Most of my Lego sets were some form of underwater base, I was in love with the Lotus that transformed into a sub from the old Bond films, and most of all I was in love with sharks. For years I firmly believed I was destined to become a marine biologist and spend my days adventuring under the waves.

My favourite Lego set ever…

Reality turned out to be quite the opposite and I ended up fulfilling my other dream job of become a 3D artist in the video game industry. A far cry from being out on the open seas on  a daily basis, but pretty cool none the less. My interest in anything to do with sharks and underwater documentaries remained strong however, and learning to scuba dive was constantly at the top of my to do list. The unfortunate thing about to do lists is….90% of the time, they never get done. Those dreams often slip into the realms of “Oh, I’ll do it next year.” or “That’s going to be so cool someday!”

Cut to 2014 and I was growing restless with my sedentary lifestyle, spending 8+ hours a day staring at a screen. Around the start of the new year I began playing with an idea in my mind I coined “Project Lifestyle”. Basically, any opportunity that arose to do something amazing, exhilarating, out of the ordinary or interesting, I would force myself to do it. I felt the need to flesh myself out as a human being and make the most of my late 20’s. I was lacking life experiences and needed to break out of my shell. I learned to snowboard and pushed myself to go every weekend, quickly falling in love with it and using it as a way to get through the seemingly never ending Montreal winters. I taught myself how to DJ and spent the summer cranking out tunes on one of the best terraces in Montreal as the sun went down, another cool experience I only dreamed about before. I was becoming more outgoing.

But still in the back of my mind was scuba diving. My curiosity about what lay in the deep waiting for me was fired up every time I would see an episode of Planet Earth or chat with my friends about their experiences travelling about the globe, something else I had not done much of. Their stories of diving on a reef in Thailand or off the coast of BC always captured my attention. I had a severe case of wanderlust brewing within me and felt the need to get out there and explore for myself. I had done the typical all-inclusive experience in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, but that was it. I was hungry to get into the backpacker experience and travelling around diving in various parts of the globe seemed to fit the bill. I viewed it as an opportunity to join a cool community of like minded travelers and a fun way to quickly make some friends wherever I went.  And most of all, I wanted to feel that rush of being a kid dreaming of underwater bases and deep sea expeditions to find whatever beasts were lurking down below.

Sharks were at the top my list to encounter…

About halfway through the year I was determined to get out into the world and managed to rope my best friend into the plans. He had gotten certified 10 years back but wanted to re-do it and when I brought up the idea of going to an exotic locale to do some diving he was in as soon as the words left my lips. After a bit of deliberation, we settled on Costa Rica. It seemed like a cool place, not too common of a travel destination, and somewhere that could offer adventure on land and sea. I was eager to avoid another tourist resort. We powered through the e-learning part of the course in a couple evenings before we left, looking to save time and not be stuck in a muggy classroom for an extra day.

A week later we were touching down in Costa Rica and I was stoked to get in the water and start diving to say the least. I didn’t know it at the time, but that trip would be the catalyst for a new major component of my life and end up leaving me to re-evaluate my current lifestyle. I was about to become a scuba diver after 27 years of dreaming about it.

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