Malta: Dry Suit Diving

April 22, 2014

One of the first steps in preparing for an underwater expedition next summer in the Arctic is getting acquainted with a type of exposure suit that will keep me warm and dry in one of the most extreme places on the planet. Having only been scuba diving in warm, tropical destinations I’ve only ever needed a wetsuit. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when it comes to drysuits. But I do know that if I want to dive in the Arctic, getting drysuit certified is obligatory.

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Arriving in Malta for Easter weekend, I made my way over to the dive shop, Divewise, in St. Julian’s Bay. I spent some time diving with them back in September and felt confident that I’d be in the best hands on the island. Viv and Jacques (the dog) are quite welcoming and quickly get things sorted for the course. I’m given a new Otter dry suit to try on and while getting my head through the latex seal was much more difficult than I anticipated, I like the look and feel of the red and black suit. I slightly feel like an astronaut; especially after I learn that the zipper on the suit traces its roots back to the space program’s need for a water/airtight seal. I’ve certainly never seen a similar zipper anywhere before.

As I took my first steps into the chilly 16C Mediterranean Sea, I quickly realized the importance of the undergarments I had on below the shell of my dry suit. Ultimately these undergarments are where the warmth comes from as the shell itself simply keeps the water out. Adding air to the suit will also provide necessary insulation between your body and the cold water.

Walking farther out my legs experienced their first suit squeeze which would only be released once I descended and made my way into a horizontal position. But getting myself into a horizontal position was dreadful as it meant my face needed to be in the water. To be honest, I couldn’t help but think to myself what the hell am I doing as I sunk below the surface. It was damn cold! What’s worse was that I was trying to asses just how much more uncomfortable 0C would feel in the Arctic. I was covered from head to toe (albeit a few exposed areas on my cheeks and forehead) and I was shocked at how cold it felt.

Some time passed and the water temperature finally faded to the back of my mind as I performed the required skill sets of the course in some incredible visibility. Along the way I met an adorable little octopus who was quite perturbed by our presence and even though he squirted ink at me several times I still enjoyed running into him. Unfortunately, my GoPro was back at the dive shop so I’ll have to remember him the old-fashioned way.

Having completed the certification with only some very minor hiccups I still think I have a long way to go before the Arctic trip. Next up on the list is getting a minimum of twenty dives in water temperatures below 10C and getting fitted for my own aquanaut suit!! Stay tuned!

Step Aside Modesty

March 30, 2014

A recent shot I took in Jardines de la Reina was awarded “Image of Edition” in the latest edition of Ocean Geographic. It is a huge honour to have won this award and even more so that it was presented by Ocean Geographic (which in case I hadn’t mentioned is my favorite magazine)! Silky Sharks are classified as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN and as their numbers are diminishing worldwide, it was such a privilege to be able to dive with dozens of these brown “sweeties”, as they are locally called. It was definitely the highlight of my time in Cuba and having this image selected feels really great. Thank you, OG!

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Maldives: Scuba Diving with Whale Sharks

March 15, 2014

This was a bucket list item of mine for a while so when I finally got the chance to jump into the water with this gentle giant in the Maldives, I was beside myself. Trying ridiculously hard to keep up with this baby whale shark was a beyond my abilities. However as you can see from this image my fellow diver was certainly keeping pace with him. I clearly need to hit the gym! The experience was brief but the incredible memory is everlasting. I definitely need to get back in the water with some whale sharks again soon.

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Chasing Crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus)

March 7, 2014

Finding the courage to get in the water with and photograph saltwater crocodiles required a great deal of soul-searching.  As with anything in life, fear can either hold you down or excel you forward.  Coming face to face with a crocodile in the water is an exhilarating experience.  Finding the composure to photograph them even more so.  As my time with the crocodiles grew I learned first hand that these reptiles are maybe even more misunderstood than sharks.  For more on this click here.

For Full Gallery of Ocean Images click here.Saltwater Crocodile

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Mangrove Magic

March 1, 2014

Trying to capture the beauty of the mangrove forests of Cuba was an interesting task. Snorkelling through the maze of tangled roots I found myself more concerned about rubbing up against the abundance of fire coral than the possibility of running into a crocodile.  When I left the boat it was a bright, sunny afternoon.  However, once inside this living structure it was very dim and eerie.  Yet there was something very magical about this place and I quickly got to work experimenting with the little natural light that was available . . .

For the full story on Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), Cuba please click here.  And for the Full Gallery click here.

Split of a mangrove forest

Mangrove Split

Saltwater Crocodile