There are other areas of the world with well-preserved shipwrecks, but the Great Lakes has the monopoly on sheer mass, variety and relative ease of access. Very few known dive-able wrecks are much more than a few hours boat ride from a decent restaurant, a chain hotel or a decent-sized town. Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, is a notable exception, but most wreck dive sites in the Great Lakes do not demand an expedition set up to reach.
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.
Most of us in Europe know of Tenerife, but many in North America won’t have heard of it. It’s one of those sunshine locations that isn’t too long a European flight for warmth, sun and reliable weather—easy to reach with economy airlines from many United Kingdom and European airports. It’s the largest of the Canary Islands, part of Spain, but off the coast of Africa on the same longitude as Western Sahara and Morocco.
Coming full circle. It all started in the Med. It was here in the 1930’s and 40’s that the likes of Hans Hass, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Frederic Dumas and Phillip Tailliez pioneered scuba diving as we came to know it. Erstwhile the obvious choice for dive travelers once the Red Sea and even more exotic destinations became accessible to a wider audience, it fell somewhat out of favor.
My dive buddy, Kate, is trying to get a shot of a purple sea fan but she’s having trouble with her strobes and my ADD is kicking in. This happens occasionally. I try to be a good buddy, I really do, but there’s just so damn much to see underwater and I get antsy if we stop too long for a photograph.
Standing on the beach staring out at the deep blue water, it’s hard to imagine a world so vibrant and full of life lying just a few meters away from our feet. My dive group and I shuffle slowly into the water, careful not to slip on the smooth black stones beneath our boots. With all our gear in place and a quick press of our deflators, we descend down into this beautiful wonderland hidden just below the surface.
On our journey north of the polar circle, my fellow adventurers and I were greeted by an astonishing spectacle. Over 20 orca were hunting an animal so rare that few people have seen them in the wild, let alone had the chance to study them. Using immense strength, agility and cunning intelligence, the orca worked as a team to hold the Arnoux’s beaked whale under water to drown it.