Florida manatees of Crystal River; Florida's Storm Wreck; Singapore's Pulau Hantu; Tahiti's humpback whales; Grand Cayman Island; Focke-Wulf 58 WWII wreck; BC's Sunshine Coast; Annapolis wreck anniversary; Scuba Confidential: Checkout dives; Shark diving: Tips on photographing sharks; In search of seahorses; UW Photo: Geometric shapes; Margaret Juul portfolio; Plus news and discoveries, equipment and training news, books and media, underwater photo and video equipment, shark tales, whale tales and much more...
Main features in this issue include:
For the local diving community, it is hard to imagine a full year has already passed since the sinking of the HMCS Annapolis in Halkett Bay, off Gambier Island in British Columbia, Canada. It only seemed like yesterday when crowds of onlookers gathered to watch the sinking on 4 April 2015. In little over two minutes, the ship was on the bottom, and Howe Sound had its first substantial wreck at 371ft (113m) in length!
According to Jan Breckman, co-owner of Sea Dragon Charters out of Horseshoe Bay, business continues to be strong a year later: “Yes, it looks like another great year is coming up!
With over 53 miles (86km) of scenic picturesque coastline along Highway 101 and less than 40 inches (104cm) of rainfall per year, it’s no wonder the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia in Canada is a popular getaway for travelers from around the world. Both the upper and the lower sections offer an array of great dive sites and a myriad of other fun activities on a year-round basis.
The lower Sunshine Coast is located between Langdale and Earl’s Cove, accessed via a car ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale (40 min sailing). The town of Sechelt is a 30-minute drive north where divers can explore Sechelt Inlet.
A winter’s dawn is a special time to be on Kings Bay, for as the first rays of the Florida sun appear over the horizon, they light up the soft mist on the warm waters of the bay and create an ethereal, almost mystical, feeling. Listen carefully and you will hear the gentle ripples from the swirl pools formed by the paddle-like tails of the sirenians, as they make their way towards the freshwater springs that are the source of Crystal River.
The arrival of the manatees usually coincides with a rising tide and heralds their return from feeding on the sea grass of Kings Bay and Crystal River.
In 2009, underwater archaeologists from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum discovered a site dubbed the "Storm Wreck" in the murky waters off St. Augustine, Florida. Analysis of the artifacts revealed that the Storm Wreck dates back to the end of the American Revolutionary War.
As archaeologists from the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum explained, “Artifacts from this ship tell a story of plight.” When the Revolution ended, colonists loyal to Britain fled the newly-formed United States of America with whatever they could carry. As the wreck revealed, this included arms.
There are places in the world where time seems to stand still, where you will find contemporary witnesses of events that can take your breath away. I visited just such a place more than 100 meters deep in a French lake—Lac du Bourget. Here, for more than 70 years, rests a Focke-Wulf Fw 58C—a German WWII airplane. This particular aircraft is one of the last of its kind that exist in the world.
On the nights of 26 and 27 November 1942, Airport Bruon in France was under German control. The Navigation School Number 4 of the 3rd Air Fleet was housed there. Young students were trained on the Focke-Wulf Fw 58C aircraft to become radio operators of the bomb squadron of the air force.
Today’s underwater photography is pretty much subject-oriented. Let’s take it as a fact—and there is nothing bad about this fact. Those who dive without an underwater camera like to describe what they have seen underwater, and those with a camera do exactly the same, but with the added advantage of providing visual proof: an underwater photograph.
However, there is the dilemma. What does one do after everything within reach has already been photographed? That’s the point we’ve reached now.
A once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn from the world-renowned underwater photographer, David Doubilet, brought US diver Jennifer Idol to the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman where an immersive workshop for underwater photographers offered rare insights into how to capture on camera the beautiful underwater realm of this fabled oasis.
I was introduced to Grand Cayman through a workshop offered by Syracuse University’s Newhouse School in the Multimedia Photography and Design Department.
It was early morning and our dive team was in the process of loading our gear into the car when my friendly neighbour, Walter, greeted me, asking where we were heading so early.
As I tell him what we were up to, he grinned, looking somewhat incredulous and wished me a good day. Yes, indeed, the hopes of finding a seahorse in Italy are very slim since they have become very rare.
American artist Margaret Juul creates vibrant and dynamic paintings inspired by the ever-kinetic, tumultuous states of water, as it may be experienced above and below the waves. X-RAY MAG interviewed the artist to find out more about her artistry and her perspectives on the watery world we inhabit.
"I am inspired, amazed and in awe of what lives in the oceans, how it affects all other living things on Earth and I am passionate about preserving it."
— Margaret Juul
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became an artist.
On one of my recent dive trips, a post-dive dinner conversation turned to the topic of capturing epic shark photographs. A magazine photo editor was in our group, and I wanted to know how photographers got those perfectly lit, very close shots of sharks, which are typically quite shy around divers. He told me shark feeds, or using bait to lure the sharks, is one of the only ways to get sharks close enough for those types of photos.
There are a few places in the world where one can see sharks quite close naturally (without divers changing the natural environment with food), such as the sardine run in South Africa where huge bait balls attract sharks.
Singapore is not usually the first place that comes to mind when you think about diving in Southeast Asia. And no wonder—we are so spoilt for choice in this part of the world, with Thailand and Malaysia to our north and Indonesia to our south. Well, these places are great if you have some vacation time or a long weekend, but what if you are too busy to get away for so long, or just want a reason to get your gear wet?
Located about 30 minutes south of Singapore by boat, Pulau Hantu is the go-to place for Singapore’s die-hard divers. Comprising two small islands that are connected together at low tide, its name literally translates to “Ghost Island” in Malay.
As our dive boat glided through Papeete Channel off the northern coast of Tahiti, two distinct spouts appeared on the horizon. We were carefully making our way toward them when suddenly two tails emerged out of the water and then majestically disappeared again. Benoit, our guide, carefully got into the water. He quietly swam in the wake of the whales until finally, he lifted his fist into the air to indicate their presence.
After having spent summer in the polar regions of the Antarctic, gorging on tonnes of krill freed from the ice floes in spring, humpback whales embark on an instinct-driven migration that is vital for their survival.
Francis was an instructor working at a dive centre in French Polynesia. One day, he picked up a couple from a nearby hotel to go diving. They had asked to do a drift dive through a pass in the reef, a site notorious for fast currents and scores of reef sharks.
Given his doubts, he considered recommending that they go to another dive site instead. However, he knew that when they called to book the dive, they had insisted on being taken out to the famous pass.