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Resident instructor Mark Dove takes a first look at the Azure Window underwater

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I set off for Gozo on Monday morning with some trepidation, as the local press had been reporting that the site of the collapsed Azure Window would be off limits for divers. It was a beautiful spring day, mostly sunny, and without the Majjistral wind that was responsible for last week's geological reorganisation.

Driving down to Dwejra I could see the Inland Sea, Fungus Rock and Crocodile Rock; there was definitely something rather large missing - but the area is still stunning to look at.

I should have brought a cylinder with me as the Gozo dive schools were present in force as I pulled into the car park, and nobody was telling them not to dive. Before I got into my wetsuit to start snorkelling I climbed up past the chapel to the cliff overlooking the Blue Hole, just to get the lie of the sea as it were.

Obviously, on my right, the whole of the Azure Window (arch and pillar) was missing but in its place was a new, dazzlingly-white reef stretching seaward from the remains of the pillar and curving to the left so that it is lying in the direction of the Gardens and the Chimney to the left of the Blue Hole.

So it appeared that Gozo had a new and improved dive site without affecting the beautiful rectangular window that is the underwater exit from the Blue Hole, nor the Chimney, and a rather pleasant snorkel around the area confirmed this to be the case.

The remains of the pillar form a tapering point just below sea level, and the remains of the arch have reduced the depth of water from 8m to less than 4m in places. This area was reducing in depth every few years as chunks of the underside of the arch dropped off during winter storms.

Swimming or diving close to the remaining cliff is definitely not recommended, as there could be further rockfalls, but apart from that, the site is in great shape and just waiting for divers to discover all the new swim-throughs!

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Before and After shots of the collapsed archway with the blue hole in the foreground

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