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Diving Into Our Ocean World Feels Somewhere Between Coming Home...  And Stepping Through The Looking Glass.

Like being allowed into another dimension of
beautiful deep blue; that is definitely how it is for me with the luxury of scuba diving. Within the limits of a tank of air, one can feel a part of another world while at the same time being the ultimate tourist. The first three rules of scuba diving are #1. Always breath. #2. Never ascend quickly, and #3. Never panic- It's amazing how much better and efficiently your brain will work for you if you don't allow it to start racing. One of the next things you learn is that to break off a piece of coral means killing thousands, possibly millions of organisms that took years to form. I believe respect is the key. The more respect and awareness I have about me, the more incredible the experiences I have. Sometimes I have to be careful not to get "tunnel vision" or someone is sure to ask something like, "You mean you didn't see those manta rays right above your head?" And there are always new things to see: Life forms in sizes and shapes that you couldn't think to imagine.




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I had snorkeled a little by the time
I went with some friends to take a scuba
certification class. I wasn't too keen on the
idea. The gear seemed bulky and the tank seemed
heavy and...  and then I got under (actually 2 of
my friends took hold of me under the arms and lifted
me over to the water to stop my complaining). At 94
pounds, no body fat and no wetsuit, I was freezing!
And then I started looking around... I realized that with
the tank, I now had the time to actually observe all
these little critters up close, going about their
everyday affairs. Some butterfly fish ducking into a
nook under a coral head and out again, a multi
colored wrasse poking around in the sand, The eels
no longer seemed so ominous, and these incredibly
weird long-snouted things called trumpet fish, straight
out of Peter Max's "Yellow Submarine". I got so
sparked! I knew I had to have more of this.
Definitely!!!


I learned what I consider to be a
valuable lesson from a trumpet fish.
I was diving with some friends on a rather
surgey day and so I was kicking twice as hard
to go distances. There weren't any rocks to hold on to
and I wont touch coral but I stopped for a minute to
rest as the surge went against me, pulling me backwards.
I looked down to see this trumpet fish that had been
cruising under me for a while. He appeared to be
motionless, head down at about a 50 angle. When the
surge changed to the direction we were headed he'd
level out and cruise. I tried it out. It definitely
lessened he drag! Then when the surge was with me I gave
one nice swift kick and I was flying across the bottom
(until the next back surge). My air lasted quite a bit
longer and I didn't have anymore problems keeping up.
The trouble was, most everyone else got
low on air before I did.



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The first 4 days of the basic open water
class were all shore dives and then we were
to do 2 boat dives on the 5th and last day. That
last day of my first scuba course was, for me, a day
of "firsts". Barely 5 minutes after pulling away from
the pier we were surrounded by dolphins. Some racing
with the bow of the boat while others were leaping
and spinning in the wake. Free, wild, and joyous
were the feelings they transmitted.
And for me, pure joy!

My next "first" was after striding off the
swim step of the boat and hearing the oddest noise
as I reached the bottom. Our instructor made a few
signs with his hands as we looked at him quizzically.
Then I found out, as he yelled,
"CAN YOU HEAR THE WHALES?"
that if you make an air space by blowing air into
say, a rubber glove and talk loudly, it's
totally audible! After that revelation I realized
that I was hearing that season's
"Song of the Humpback Whales"!


My other "firsts" that day were diving in
an underwater lava tube and it was also the
day I first heard the word "Night Dive". My first
reaction was "whoa". About a month later
that changed to "WOW!!!".
I could do a whole other page on night dives;
and lava tube diving too for that matter.




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I like to laughingly complain about
snorkeling as being "on the outside looking in",
especially when I'm trying to talk someone in to
their first dive (I also tell them you burn off about
800 calories per dive just cruising around in slow
motion), but there are definite advantages if you
want to hang out with dolphins. When they're not into
being around people, they leave so quick you wish you
hadn't blinked. When they are in the mood they'll
hang out with people for quite a while. I would swear
that sometimes they actually enjoyed our company.
Any time I go snorkeling and get to see dolphins it
puts me on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

When I was little, I had lived in
Mission Beach, CA when Sea World first opened
and it was really great compared to what else was
around back then, but it's just not the same as
getting to observe them free in
their own environment.




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I have enjoyed making these pages and hope
that you will enjoy viewing them. I have made individual pages for some of my favorite "dive buddies" (people and marine life fit into that category). I may yet make an indivdual page for eels. I was terrified of them before I got into diving. Just learning that the reason they are always opening and closing their mouths has to do with the way they breathe dispelled a lot of my fear. As usual, fear is just lack of knowledge. I've found knowledge, caution and respect work pretty well for me.

I did get bit once trying to feed a yellow margin moray. As I pulled a piece of squid out of a bottle, I got mobbed by reef fish. The eel was coming after the food and I dropped it, felt a surge of fear, and jerked my hand back. Really foolish. Cardinal rule: never panic. I had heard eels lock on and don't let go. That has not been my experience. It all happened very quickly and the poor little guy was so confused I felt sorry for him. He dashed back into his hole and peeked his head out looking completely bewildered. I have made it a rule since then never to feed the inhabitants. I've made friends with eels and gotten them to let me pet them, but never with food.




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One of the greatest things about Hawaii is
that the marine life is very much protected, outside of bill fishing. Because of over fishing, new protection rules have been initiated concerning them as well. Because of people that used to rather aggressively pursue the humpbacks. you must keep a certain distance from them now. Turtles are not killed for their oil or to be eaten as they are in many places. More and more areas have been designated as "marine sanctuaries".

When I first started diving everyone always
just dropped anchor at the dive sites. Many people began noticing the damage that the anchor chains and anchors were doing to the reefs especially at the most popular dive sites. Jack's Diving Locker, and some of the other dive shop owners began to make inquiries to Florida and other places that had put in permanent mooring systems to alleviate the damage. With the help of the University of Hawaii and the use of their u/w drill, some substantial contributions (a large one from Jerry Garcia who loved diving and also did a save the reef benefit show), the use of the Aggressor live-aboard dive boat for several days and the hands-on help of many supportive volunteer divers, the project finally got underway. I was very proud to have been a part of that operation. It really made a great difference.

You won't find very much scientific or technical
information on my pages. There are so many wonderful educational and informative sites about dolphins, whales, turtles, the reefs and everything in between that have all the facts and information one could possibly want to know. Check out my links page for some of my favorite marine life and conservation web sites.



My Love of Diving, Marine Life and Underwater Photograghy led me to create a line of Dolphin & Whale Jewelry Box Designs that I feel are Artistically Unique.
If you would like to view them, go to the
"Handcrafted Creations" link below.

I will be adding more marine life pages as I get them made and find people to scan my photographs for me. I am waiting on reef sharks, octopus, lobster, frog fish, Garcia and other human friends and the rest of my turtle pictures; so if you like, check back and see how it's going.





LINKS


Gallery Index
1.Handcrafted Creations: Dolphin & Whale Boxes
2.My Underwater Photo Gallery I: Special People
3.My Underwater Photo Gallery II: Green Sea Turtles
4.My Underwater Photo Gallery III: Other Sea Creatures
5.Underwater Photo Gallery IV: Dolphins
6.Underwater Photo Gallery V: Humpback Whales



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