Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back To Being A Solo Dive Bum

After much thought and soul searching this last couple of weeks I have finally come to the conclusion that I need to completely sever any affiliation I had with the dive group that Mike Tripp and I started. I still firmly believe in the ideals and thoughts we had when we initially talked about starting this group. I do believe that much more can be done to effectively market Saipan diving through the internet, and I do believe that a diving web portal, done properly, would be a great asset to anyone looking to come here to go diving. When we first talked about the group I had envisioned a bunch of people with a passion for diving getting together, talking about their recent discoveries, sharing information on the dives and pooling their resources online so it would be much easier for people looking for pictures or information on diving on Saipan to find it. That is really the extent of what I had in mind. But of course as is the case with anything, once you open it up and start having other people get involved, they will all bring their own agenda to the table and will try changing the focus of the group accordingly. That's not necessarily bad or wrong, it's just life, it's the way things go.

I realize that people will have disagreements and arguments, that is to be expected. But when some of the dive "professionals" started using the public forum as their way to bash those that they didn't agree with or that they saw as some sort of threat, all the sudden I realized that this group could easily do much more harm than good if this kept up. There are some very good reasons why I have adamantly refused to go beyond being an Open Water diver for over 32 years now. I feel like the dive industry has turned into a greedy, money grubbing racket in many respects, and I don't want anything to do with that part of it. There are some awesome people involved in diving, instructing and some of the dive shops, and I truly enjoy talking with them, swapping stories with them and sharing information with them. But then there are those who seem to want us all to believe there are "laws" relating to who should be allowed to go diving with who, and that everyone has to follow their imaginary "laws". This faction even talks about "Scuba Police" as if such a thing has ever existed. The bottom line with them is they make their entire living from being a dive master or instructor and they want to protect every potential customer out there. They don't want anyone diving with anyone but them, but of course they will charge you through the nose for it. They will tell you they are the only safe people to dive with, even though interestingly enough, the vast majority of fatal dive accidents here over the years have all been with "professional" divers.

I want nothing to do with people like that, and don't want anyone to think that I approve of their rhetoric, principles or business practices. And because these people are active in the group and very vocal on the public forums online, I need to set the record straight once and for all. I am no longer affiliated with the Marianas Dive group in any way, nor do I support or endorse what their public forum has turned into. I believe that Mike Tripp is a great guy and really wants to make a positive difference in diving here, but because of some of the people who have chosen to affiliate themselves with this group, he may be facing a steep uphill challenge.

I have removed all previous posts from my blog with any reference to the dive group, as it was pointed out to me that my blog popped up when people were looking for information on the group. I will now just revert to being a dive bum who loves to dive and take pictures of cool things that people stuck on dry land will never see without the aid of a diver with a camera.

Swimming With Hawksbill Turtles

Sunday afternoon I went back to Lau Lau to see if my turtle buddies were hanging around waiting for me to come back. Sure enough just as I was getting to the spot that I had spent all the time with the little Hawksbill, he came swimming over to me from the side. I couldn't believe it, it was like he had just been waiting for me and was now ready to go on my dive with me. So instead of heading down the sand fingers, I headed north toward the golf course, with the little Hawksbill swimming along at my side. He wanted to stop and eat a few times along the way, so I would stop and wait for him, then we would continue on. We went through a bunch of swimthroughs together, he ducked down and showed me a few of his sleeping spots so I took some pictures of him in his various holes. But he would always come back out and keep following me.At one point he kind of perched himself on top of a piece of coral that was sticking up. He used his back flippers to steady himself and hang onto it. Occasionally he would wiggle around giving his flippers a good scratch on the coral. For a while I thought he was trying to show me one of his special underwater massage techniques, daring me to do the same. I was content just taking pictures of him doing it, although it did make me want to get a massage later on. After swimming and playing together for just under 90 minutes the little turtle was tired out and needed a nap. He went down into this little hole and tucked himself in for a rest. And that's where I left him. For the previous 90 minutes though I think I actually became a turtle and experienced what their life is like on a daily basis. If you want to see more of the pictures of the turtles from these dives you can go to my smugmug gallery and check out the Turtle gallery. I put together a few of the video clips I took from my time with these Hawksbill turtles so that you can also experience what it is like to become a Hawksbill turtle, I hope you enjoy it!