US Florida Keys; South Africa's Rocktail Beach; Turkey's Mediterranean & Aegean hotspots; Battle of Jutland WWI wrecks; Poland's Kowary uranium mine; Suunto turns 80; Critters of the muck; Fish butts & hindbrains; Posturing sharks; Scuba Confidential: It's not beasting; How I Got the Shot; Patricia Knight 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:
It is hard to put into words what I was feeling at this stage. I was descending the shot line in approximately 15m visibility and an image started to appear. Not the random wreckage you often see, or even the straight lines of a cargo ship, instead these were two long barrels. This was no ordinary wreck—I was looking at the ‘X’ Turret of HMS Invincible.
Diving the shipwrecks of the Battle of Jutland had always been an ambition of mine.
The Battle of Jutland in 1916 was the biggest naval battle in World War I. Over two days of combat, 25 warships were sunk. Undertaking a diving expedition to this isolated place was a real adventure.
Two years before this expedition, I had booked a trip with a team from England to dive the wrecks of Jutland (in the North Sea, near the western coast of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula), but this trip was cancelled at the last moment because the expedition ship’s permit was not in order.
You just have to do it to understand it. Until you have experienced it, the name itself does not stir the emotions as much as the other types of diving. Once you have experienced the treasure hunt for yourself, you will be hooked. Marketing specialists would agree that it is probably misnamed and they have even tried to rename it, but nothing has stuck the same way as the coined term “muck diving.”
So, what is muck diving? The term can be used to describe several types of diving but usually involves diving in areas you wouldn’t initially think about diving in.
Statistics show that more Americans dive in the US state of Florida than any other place on the planet, but when you consider what is on offer, it is hardly surprising. The state’s government has been instrumental in sinking some of the world’s largest (so-called) artificial reefs, but there are also freshwater pools, caves and caverns with a constant warm water temperature all year-round, which certainly appeals to winter divers.
There are great encounters with large critters like manatees. Of course, the farther you travel south towards the Florida Keys, the more the country is influenced by the might of the Gulf Stream. There is great ease of access down to the Sunshine State.
In the 1950s, in the early days of recreational scuba diver training, many of the instructors were retired military who would use words like “beasting” to describe the harsh regime they meted out to their students to ensure they met their exacting standards for diver certification.
Much was made of dropout and failure rates, as if the quality of an instructor resided not in how many students passed the course but how many failed. This kind of mindset was unlikely to build a successful commercial industry and, in the early 1960s, scuba diver training attitudes changed.
Diving in old mines and tunnels is becoming more and more popular. More and more cave divers are discovering a love for the exploration of these unique time capsules.
In recent years, I have had the chance to dive a series of mines. Mainly these were iron mines and slate mines, which have been opened for years to trained cave divers. However, as is the case everywhere, the law of supply and demand also applies to mine diving.
American artist and scuba diver Patricia Knight creates dynamic papercut graphics and sublime linoleum prints of marine life and divers in underwater scenes, combining age-old printmaking techniques with modern digital graphics. Inspired by the underwater realm, she strives to raise awareness of the ocean’s fragile ecosystem through her art.
"I began my 'Love the Water' prints so that I could start a dialogue with people about the importance of our oceans. I meet a lot of people during art shows—most of them tourists—and it’s easy to connect with them through my illustrations."
— Patricia Knight
Meaningful posturing in sharks was first noticed in the gray reef shark. Richard Johnson of French Polynesia found that when sharks of this species were chased and cornered, they performed a complex display.
The animal would arch its back, raise its snout, depress its pectoral fins and swim toward the offending diver with exaggerated horizontal swimming movements, sometimes rolling or looping in a spiral. Then it would either flee, or, with a lightning gesture, deliver a warning slash.
South Africa’s dive scene is well-known for its shark diving. Yet, there is a great deal more to see underwater off the coast of the old continent, towards the border with Mozambique, at Rocktail Bay.
In South Africa, there are year-round opportunities to see oceanic blacktip sharks, bull sharks, scalloped and great hammerheads, black and whitetip reef sharks, and ragged-tooth sharks (aka sand tiger sharks in the US or grey nurse sharks in Australia).
Suunto is like Kellogg’s cornflakes to me—a brand that has been with me, like, forever. Well, perhaps not quite that long, but at least since my early diving days, now obscured in the fog of memory. Several decades down the line, I am now on my fourth instrument. Not that I have actually worn out any of them; they have all been good and reliable companions.
The headquarters are located on the outskirts of Helsinki, which, by the way, is quite an exciting and appealing city, laden with history and interesting shopping. Oh, and did I mention design?
Like diving in warm, turquoise waters with great visibility? Enjoy a laid-back atmosphere, without the stress of mass tourism, but still proper structures and professional services for scuba diving on site? Want guarantied sunshine and excellent food from one of the world's greatest cuisines? Or perhaps you have a passion for history and culture as well, but not if it requires endless flights and travel? Then, Turkey is for you.
The most outstanding feature of the seas around Turkey is the remains of past civilizations. Turkey is where the East meets the West. The ancient Romans named this region "Asia Minor".
In June at this year’s United Nations World Oceans Day photo contest, three of our regular contributors won awards.
Here are the stories behind their winning shots.