Being a scuba diver and learning to consume less air on your dives, means regulating your breaths. I often practice slow breaths; breathe in to the count of 4, and a slow, controlled exhale to the count of 5. I definitely notice I consume less air, but I also notice that getting into that rhythm is very relaxing. Because I am underwater, AND breathing through a regulator, inhaling breaths are a little louder. And exhaling bubbles is just fun!
My husband is a scuba instructor, so he has logged countless dives in his scuba career. He is a very patient buddy as I take pictures of the many critters we encounter, and I often turn around after taking my shots, and he literally appears to be napping, hands clasped, suspended perfectly by my side. The first time I noticed that, I thought he was "narced", staring senselessly at the rock in front of him, but no. He was just resting his eyes while I took pictures. THAT is taking relaxation to a whole other level!
On our last dive in the Cayman Islands, we settled on the sandy bottom of the ocean, and patiently waited for the little yellow-headed jawfish to cautiously stick their heads out of their holes. They are curious, and it was our hope that they would come all the way out. I have a little photo-series of those relaxing moments (see below, and sorry, I didn't have macro capability, so I couldn't get any closer), but my point is, that is was such a calming practice (plus, these little guys are so darned amusing!). It is a place of ZEN. :)
Cute and curious Yellow-headed Jawfish - The "dance" we had the privilege of watching as we meditated on the bottom of the ocean:
2. Escape Technology
Don't get me wrong, technology is great, but enough already! I use technology a lot for my job, and for the business; social media is a big part of being involved in the scuba industry. That makes sense, because it is a very unique sort of business - a very social business. But it has some tremendous downsides. I began to feel like I couldn't do it all. I had mountains of work to do, but somehow the social media vortex would suck me in, and spit me out hours later. It was creating stress.
Disentangling ourselves from social media while we go on our diving excursions is such a relaxing pleasure! No phones underwater! We naturally find ourselves unwinding and enjoying the company of other divers, while the "pull" of technology lessens minute by minute. I LOVE our little dive trips! Whew!!!! What a relief to escape!
Silence is golden. It really is. Noise is a pollution, and we are so inured to it, that we often don't realize the strain and stress we are putting on ourselves emotionally and physically, until we finally free ourselves from it.
To descend below the surface of the water, is to truly shut out the rest of the world. No work, no bosses, no technology, no traffic (except for schools of fish), and, for a little while anyway, I can pretend there are no bills. It is an escape like no other. Bliss.
Wreck diving is a favourite for many divers. People love them for many different reasons. For some, it is the magical timelessness of a structure preserved in its time (although it is ever changing from year to year).
For others, it is the historical significance that demands their fascination. A wreck may lie on the bottom of an ocean as a memorial to battles, conflict, or tragedy, and historians have learned a great deal about our past from the archaeological artifacts recovered and preserved from its depths.
Every wreck has a story. We love to learn the history of each one before we explore her secrets. And wrecks are everywhere! We enjoy them on weekend outings from home here in Ontario often throughout the summer, and in the winter, we explore historical wrecks in more exotic and far away locations. Each is unique, and although people usually think of ships as wrecks, we also dive the wrecks of planes, military craft, and even railroad cars!
Wrecks draw underwater photographers, not only for its structural beauty, but for the life that is sheltered there. In the ocean, wrecks become artificial reefs over time - a kind of coral nursery - and with each passing year of thriving growth, more and more marine life takes residence there. It is beautiful to see and appreciate the contrast of a dilapidated wreck that is falling apart, with the colourful coral growing on it, attracting fishes, shrimps, eels, rays, and more. What's not to love?
5. Marine Life
Do we all carry an obsession with the water and the creatures living in it, or is it just me? I can't walk by a body of water, without at least visually searching its depths for a glimpse of life.
In fresh water - frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, and, of course bigger fish like bass, or maybe sturgeon? In salt water - jellyfish, sea-turtles, lobster, or maybe even a shark? I want to see them, I want to see them all!
My marine life point BEGS to be told through a few pictures (which will naturally lead to point number 6...
6. Underwater Photography
I know, it's not every scuba diver's passion to capture the beauty of the world below the waves with a digital camera, but it IS mine! It's really one of the motivating factors that got me into the sport in the first place! Many divers choose not to take a camera with them, because they just want to enjoy the experience first hand, not through the eye of the camera. They will tap their heads and proclaim, "It's all up here."
And they are right. But not for me. I am DRIVEN to improve my underwater photography skills. If I can't take my camera with me, I am devastated, because then I KNOW that is when I will see something cool, and miss the chance to photograph it through MY eyes, MY way with MY tool - the camera. And generally speaking, you just can't plan what you are going to see and photograph on a dive. It's like Forest Gump says, "Scuba diving is like a box of chocolate - you never know what you are going to get." (close enough). So with camera in hand, I must be ready. For anything.
Every dive and photo-shoot experience is a learning opportunity, and I leave every excursion with a list of things in my head that I could improve on next time. Things I would do differently, and things I would like to try. It may be an obsession.
My scuba trips are fraught with running to my room to check O-rings, download images (with back-up) and charge lights and camera so they are ready for the next dive.
And I just wouldn't have it any other way.
7. Divers are Fun and Cool
But it's just so simply true. Divers love life. They are fun loving. They love nature. They care about the ocean and the environment.
We take care of each other and help one another to improve their scuba skills, and dive safer.
We enjoy BBQ's and refreshments after many dives, and they are just a pretty cool bunch of people. You really have to join this community and see for yourself! What are you waiting for?
Learn to dive, or join the scuba club!