The first question non-divers usually ask is, “Have you ever seen a shark?” If you answer yes, they want to know if you were scared. Well, for most divers, seeing this majestic animal is a thrill. To be able to see dozens at one time is an experience most divers dream of. One does not have to travel far to realize this dream. In the Bahamas, on New Providence Island in the city of Nassau, you can swim with dozens of gray reef sharks. Nassau is less than a three-hour flight from New York City. The island is merely 178 miles from Miami, Florida. Nassau is known for sandy white beaches, calm blue water, casinos, resorts and gift shops. There is enough to do to keep any tourist happy. Vacationers come to this island by cruise ship, airplane and private boat, to relax and party. But if you want adventure, you should venture beneath the Bahamian waters to see the numerous reefs, walls and shipwrecks teeming with marine life.
People go scuba diving for many reasons. Some divers are interested in the natural beauty of coral reefs, and the animals that call this environment home. Wreck divers are interested in man-made objects that have ended up underwater by disaster. Ships and airplanes sink because of bad maintenance, fire, weather, collisions and war. Once sunk, the wreck becomes a time capsule. When diving to explore wrecks, the experience is enhanced if you know its history. When swimming through one of these underwater museums, one can't help but imagine what happened during the sinking. If your objective is to create images, knowing the wrecks history will help.
Bonaire, along with Aruba and Curaçao, form a Caribbean Island group referred to as the ABC islands. They are located north of Venezuela. The island has pristine reefs close to shore, and is below the hurricane belt. Many people consider this island “Diver's Paradise,” just as it says on the automobile license plates. When a group of friends said they were going to Bonaire, my dive partner Olga Torrey and I decided that after a season of Northeast wreck diving, practicing photography at Dutch Springs, and a trip to the cold waters of Alaska, a nice and easy pretty-fish trip should be put on the calendar.
When people think of traveling for scuba diving, they think of warm blue water locations such as the Red Sea, Australia, Fuji, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Bonaire. But Alaska? The green rich waters of this temperate rain forest are full of life and photographic opportunities. A trip to Alaska is a true adventure, both above and below the surface. My dive buddy Olga Torrey and I decided to experience Alaska on the liveaboard dive boat, the Nautilus Swell. This 100-year-old refurbished tugboat is the perfect platform for cold-water exploration, and is very photographer-friendly. The crew is well versed in dive procedures in this very different environment. We would board the boat in Juneau, and after a week of diving, we would depart from Sitka.
About 90 miles from NYC is a playground for scuba divers. Dutch Springs, a limestone quarry, attracts northeast scuba divers to train, practice, try new gear and socialize. Many divers thumb their nose up at diving Dutch. Local wreck divers prefer to dive the changing offshore shipwrecks. Warm water divers are not interested in the cold water and some-what low visibility. That being said many dive shops in the Northeast conduct their training at Dutch, and many divers come here to practice their skills.
Even the tiny boat wreck between the platform and bus could make a dramatic image
Not all dives are created equal. Many divers just want to dive a shallow reef while others would rather strap on double tanks and explore a shipwreck in 300 feet of water. Other divers want to discover what is inside an underwater cave. The kind of diving you do will determine the camera and housing system you should use. The other question is: what are you using the photos for?
From the beginning of time the human race has used the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans for gathering food, transporting goods, for sports and recreation. Modern human beings have a need to document activities, usually by taking photographs. We want photos for record keeping, showing people where we have been, what we explored, and who we, our family, and friends are. And for creative art and fun.
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