X-Ray Mag #88

Feature articles in this issue with stand-alone pdfs

Rico Besserdich   Rico Besserdich
To isolate specific parts of an object always works well in abstract photography, underwater and above.

Abstract underwater photography—some may whisper, oh that’s “art”; others may shout, it’s “foolish and completely pointless!” while mourning the downfall of “real” photography. Some may stare at abstract images, unable to understand what they are seeing, because the perceived image does not match their expectations.

And then, there are some who see their imaginations and senses boosted, eyes switching to “super-boost mode”—a fireworks of new synapses stimulating their brains, music starts playing and some might even hear luring voices whispering to them. But whether it is a lack of understanding (leading even to anger) or a refreshing fireworks of synapses, it all starts with one simple question: “What is it?”

Compass jellyfish, East Sea, Russia. Photo by Aleksei Kondratuk.

Many want to feel what it is like to fly in the cosmos—how one’s body levitates in dark space. Personally, I have never been in space, but I have found this feeling on night dives.

Klim Kolosov  

For us survivors of the Perestroika, there are still some nice things we recall from the nostalgic Soviet past—one of these being, of course, the endless Cousteau series, run and rerun so many times on black-and-white television. The skinny Frenchman, with the (supposedly) red beanie, introduced an entire generation (or two) to the mysterious underwater world, full of beauties and beasts. But getting there was something beyond any of our dreams—the gap was just too deep.

Andrey Bizyukin   Andrey Bizyukin

Not many divers like to dive in cold water, especially under ice. A possible reason for this may be that they do not know about the new, modern, comfortable equipment for this kind of diving—equipment which can turn these extreme dives into a curious and fascinating vacation. Today’s new drysuits, toasty warm undergarments, suit heaters made of modern materials, dry gloves and cold-water regulators, together with proper and well-organized dive procedures, allow one to enjoy diving under the ice more comfortably, spurring many to look for new underwater adventures in the ice-covered places of the world.

Andrey Bizyukin   Andrey Bizyukin

Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on the planet, with a volume of around 23,615 cubic kilometers of fresh drinking water. Each year, Lake Baikal is visited by many tourists, including recreational divers, underwater photographers and scientists who dive in the coastal waters of the lake. But when it comes to deep-water technical diving in Lake Baikal, few have heard of it, probably because these divers tend to be taciturn in nature. As a technical diving instructor, I became interested in visiting Lake Baikal in order to meet, talk and dive with the most experienced divers of this region, and to discover what there was to find in the depths of this distant, mysterious lake.

Andrey Bizyukin   Andrey Bizyukin

Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on the planet, with a volume of around 23,615 cubic kilometers of fresh drinking water. Each year, Lake Baikal is visited by many tourists, including recreational divers, underwater photographers and scientists who dive in the coastal waters of the lake. But when it comes to deep-water technical diving in Lake Baikal, few have heard of it, probably because these divers tend to be taciturn in nature. As a technical diving instructor, I became interested in visiting Lake Baikal in order to meet, talk and dive with the most experienced divers of this region, and to discover what there was to find in the depths of this distant, mysterious lake.

Edited by Gunild Symes   Noriko Kuresumi (artwork) , Shin Ono (photos)

Noriko Kuresumi is a Japanese artist based in New York City who creates ceramic sculptures with exquisite, sensual forms inspired by the harmony and balance of the ocean.

X-Ray Mag interviewed the artist to learn more about her artwork and perspectives on art and nature.

Eugeny Polukhin   Igor Egorov, Eugenia Mironetz, , Dmitry Rudas, Jury Smituk, , Andrey Bizyukin

The larga is the spotted seal (Phoca largha) that lives in the North Pacific Ocean along the coasts of South Korea to Chukotka in Russia, and from Alaska to California in the United States. These seals choose coastal rocks in shallow bays for their rookeries. In winter time, larga seals spend a lot of time on ice near ice holes, or on floating ice floes along the coast. These seals feed on fishes, octopuses and shellfishes.

Eugeny Polukhin   Igor Egorov, Eugenia Mironetz, , Dmitry Rudas, Jury Smituk, , Andrey Bizyukin

The larga is the spotted seal (Phoca largha) that lives in the North Pacific Ocean along the coasts of South Korea to Chukotka in Russia, and from Alaska to California in the United States. These seals choose coastal rocks in shallow bays for their rookeries. In winter time, larga seals spend a lot of time on ice near ice holes, or on floating ice floes along the coast. These seals feed on fishes, octopuses and shellfishes.

Andrey Alexandrov   Andrey Alexandrov

Over the last half century, scuba diving—which was, in its earlier days, reserved for the elite, brave and courageous—has become a mainstream sport for the masses. On the one hand, this is very good. Millions of people get to see with their own eyes how diverse and exciting the underwater world is. On the other hand, diving can cause serious damage to coral reefs, which are rich in biodiversity, but extremely vulnerable to human impact. In a response to the dive community’s demand for more protection of the reefs and the underwater realm, a group of divers came up with the idea of Scubatlon—a tournament in traditional recreational diving with a conservation bent.

Don Silcock   Don Silcock , Filippo Bhorgi

The Protea Banks enjoys a reputation as one of the best places in South Africa to dive with sharks, and depending on the time of year, you can see up to seven different varieties, including ragged-tooth sharks, oceanic blacktip sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks and three varieties of hammerhead sharks—scalloped, smooth and great hammerhead sharks. Often, these varieties are in large, if not astonishing, numbers.

Walt Stearns   Walt Stearns

I have spent decades covering the Caribbean for major dive magazines. But when it is time for a personal trip, I usually set my sights farther from home. One destination that has become a personal favorite over the last ten years is the Philippines. The waters of this island nation lie within the “Coral Triangle,” a region recognized as having one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet.

Andrey Gorbunov   Andrey Gorbunov

Prometheus is an underwater photography and videography project by the Orda Cave Underwater Speleology Center. The center is looking into the use of the latest technology in dive lamps to illuminate huge caves for photography, where flash has previously been used.

Ila France Porcher  

Fish reveal such complex thinking in their daily lives that they could not possibly be as simple-minded as fishermen claim. They are capable of all the types of cognition found in primates (with the sole exception of the ability to imitate), and now an international team of scientists has established that the cleaner wrasse is one of the few animals able to pass the mirror self-recognition test (MSR), also called the “mark test.”1

Simon Pridmore  

You are chatting with a diving friend and the conversation turns to mutual acquaintances. “Do you know Bob and Carol?” your friend asks. “Oh yes, good divers!” you reply. We will usually refer to someone as a good diver when they are not around. We will rarely say it to their face. And it is something that we all rather hope people say about us behind our backs. The politically correct response when someone says “so-and-so is a good diver” is to nod sagely in agreement, rather than object. But what does it mean? What are the qualities that make someone a good diver?

Marco Daturi   Marco Daturi

We are all born under the sun, and for the first year, we are perfectly at ease underwater. In the first months, we keep our eyes and mouths open without any problems, even underwater, thanks to the closure of the glottis that prevents us from drowning. After the first 10 to 12 months, however, we lose this superpower, and to go underwater, we have to organize well!

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