Diving Indonesia's Lembeh Strait and Buyat Bay; Mexico's Sea of Cortez; Portugal's artificial reef; Sidemount diving; Hardhat diving; Opening up closed circuit; Interview with Mike Fletcher; Beyond the muck ecology; Sea legs for dive fitness; Wide-macro fisheye photography for critters; Mirrorless macro underwater photography; Sharon Brill portfolio; Plus news and discoveries, equipment and training news, books and media, underwater photo and video equipment, turtle news, shark tales, whale tales and much more...
Main features in this issue include:
Muck diving is a term used quite frequently these days that can be applied to either a dive site, a type of diving or even an entire region like Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or Anilao in the Philippines.
These areas of the Indo-Pacific have consistently ranked amongst the highest in terms of high coral counts, reef fish and of course the high impact Holy Grail of critters.
The intertidal and estuary zones typically associated with muck dives provide much more overall for the eco-system than what meets the eye. Nutrients flowing into the ocean current mix to create an amazing bio-mass of diversity that ranges from bull rush sea grass to bull sharks.
There are very few places in the world that remain unknown to the dive community. Let’s face it, scuba enthusiasts are nothing if not resourceful when it comes to finding new and uncharted waters to dive in. But chances are excellent that when you read the title of this article you asked yourself, “Buyat Bay? Where the heck is that?”
That was exactly my reaction when I was first told about this vibrant and breathtaking stretch of sea three hours south of the Lembeh Strait just off the Sulawesi mainland in Indonesia.
The world’s full of triangles. There’s the Love Triangle, the Golden Triangle, the Bermuda Triangle… and then of course, most relevant of all to us divers, there’s the Macrolife Triangle, that blissful figure made up by the Malaysian islands of Lankayan and Kapalai and—at the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi—the Strait of Lembeh.
Everybody today knows about muck diving—the concept of looking for strange and grotesque macro critters in coral-poor areas with medium or downright bad viz—but not everybody knows this is where it all began, circa 15 years ago.
The apparently contradictory choice of adding teleconverters to fish-eye lenses to obtain arresting “wide-macro” images has long been adopted by many rainforest and insect specialists—notably Frans Lanting, the grand master of them all—while several Japanese authors have pioneered its use in underwater photography since the last decade.
This unusual combination allows an extremely close approach to small subjects, offering at the same time the opportunity to keep a large area of surrounding environment or background in the image frame, with little or no peripheral distortion and with the added bonus of an absolutely spectacular
Underwater photographer Peter Verhoog of the Dutch Shark Society is on a mission—a mission to save sharks. He wants to raise awareness for sharks and their fate among a wide audience. One of the ways to do this is to show people not only the beauty of sharks but also shark behaviour and their sometimes worldwide migration and feeding patterns.
Marine conservation is almost never a national matter; migratory species can cross many borders, and regulations have to span more than one nation to protect a species. The whale shark is a highly migratory and cosmopolitan tropical and warm temperate species.
The Northeast Diving Equipment Group based in the U.S. state of New Jersey is an organization that allows the average sport diver to try hardhat diving. They have been around since 1993 but really started in 1987.
A number of Sutton’s students, including Fred Barthes, John Melnick and Jim Boyd, purchased the surface supply gear and formed the Northeast Diving Equipment Group (NEDEG). Barthes is the remaining co-founder of this very active group.
Bubbles, fluro night diving and other memories from Inner Space. The fourth ‘Red Sea Silence’ week has recently wrapped up in Safaga, Egypt. I would not be at all surprised if this rebreather event probably came into being, partially because of the wild success of Divetech’s Inner Space.
Once seen, who can forget that iconic photo of a circle of rebreather divers? I remember just how much that image intrigued and excited me—“I want to be part of that.” Though I must admit that I was somewhat astonished to realise it was taken a decade ago.
Mike Fletcher is a scary guy. Not because he’s violent or aggressive. Quite the contrary, when I meet him in person he turns out to be quite modest and charming. But when you listen to Mike talk about some of his dives, it’s a terrifying experience. I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada, having lunch with someone I consider to be one of the pre-eminent figures in diving today.
In a voice that could be describing something as matter a fact as how to catch a bus to his house, he’s talking about crawling in near zero visibility through the bowels of a ship that’s settled on the bottom and filled with sediment.
When shore diving, divers often have to overcome an obstacle course to get to their favorite dive spot. Beach access may be by stairs and always includes walking across grass, concrete, sand or rocks. Entries and exits are in varying surf conditions and divers regularly “kick out” or “turtle” for extended distances on the surface to conserve air before dropping down to dive.
Sports fitness regimes typically separate power, strength and endurance into off-season, pre-season and in-season programming. Scuba divers, however, can develop their sea legs by combining power, strength and endurance into the same workout.
Whale shark, whale shark, whale shark! After several unsuccessful hours of searching the bay by small boat, these long-awaited words came as a welcome relief. Only a handful of us had heard the radio call after opting to stay behind and skip the last dive of the trip.
For 16 magical minutes we were fortunate to have a very inquisitive youngster exhaust each of us in turn with its oversized version of follow the leader.
Artist Sharon Brill captures the sensual nature of the sea and the dynamic energy of water in motion in her series of ceramic sculptures that play with the forms and structures found in reefs and mullosks.
"The sea is very close to my heart. It is, and will always be, a part of me. "
-- Sharon Brill
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about your background and how you developed your artistic process in connection with themes of the sea or the underwater world.