Scott Johnson has felt drawn to the sea and its creatures from a
very young age. As a child, he made frequent trips to visit an Aunt
who lived in Miami Beach, FL. Sitting spellbound for hours he would
simply listen to the waves roll in and wonder what lied beneath
the water's surface.
curiosity eventually led to his first ocean dive. Johnson carried
with him an underwater camera, although he had no previous interest
in photography. But from that first dive a strong desire to capture
the essence of his underwater experiences quickly developed. Working
as a freelance photographer and writer, he has traveled extensively
in the Caribbean as well as explored the South Pacific and Middle
East. And he counts Cocos Island, Costa Rica among his favorite
images have been recognized in international competitions and appeared
in numerous publications, including major diving magazines, as well
as in calendars and advertisements.
I awake to a glorious
morning sunrise. Bermuda is a true island paradise. Located less than
600 miles from New York and on the same parallel as Cape Hatteras,
NC, Bermuda is blessed with the world's most northerly coral reef
system. The extensive reef system and shallow waters have contributed
to the deaths of over 400 wrecks.
addition to the amazing plethora of historic wrecks, Bermudian dive
operators have added to the menagerie by purposely sinking other
vessels. The Hermes, the island's most popular and photogenic wreck,
is one of these artificial wrecks. It is also one of the best shallow
water wreck dives in the world. Today's mission, which I will gladly
accept, is to examine and photograph this special wreck. The Nautilus
dive shop, located in the Fairmont's Aquatic Center, is hosting
me for the excursion.
things that you will quickly learn when diving around Bermuda are
to set-up your gear at the earliest opportunity and to add more
weight to your weight belt. You need to do the pre-dive shuffle
at a fast tempo because the dive sites are usually so close to shore
that there is little time to waste once the boat departs the dock.
The need for additional weight is predicated on Bermuda's position
in the Sargasso Sea, which is a free-floating body of water in the
North Atlantic. Without going into great detail, the water has a
higher salt content. The more salt in the water, the more weight
you need to achieve neutral buoyancy. I discovered this during my
first trip after floundering about on the surface while trying to
descend. Save yourself the frustration and just add more weight.
Hermes is fully intact and rests upright in only 80 feet of water.
This 165-foot Panamanian freighter was abandoned due to severe engine
trouble and then intentionally sunk in 1985. Her original resting-place
was a sandy area, many yards away from the reef. However, Mother
Nature decided to do some redecorating via a storm and pushed the
Hermes against the reef. At the expense of a small, damaged section
of reef, her current position is very picturesque.
site is home to a gang of Barracuda. These homeboys allow you to
play on their turf, but they keep a close eye on your every move.
I wave as I descend to the bow and start taking pictures. I am so
captivated by this part of the ship that I leave little film to
photograph the rest. Dave Stafford, my guide and new friend, tells
me its time to get back on the boat. I finish off both rolls and
head to the surface before the other divers mutiny. The Hermes is
a must dive for wreck aficionados.
Buy your dive gear from the instructors at scuba.com
Fairmont Southampton Princess
P.O. Box HM 1379
Bermuda HM FX
P.O. Box SN 165
Southampton SN BX
#5 Albuoy's Point
Hamilton HM 11
Beach Resort Bermuda
P.O. Box HM 1070
Hamilton HM EX
South Shore Road
Southampton, Bermuda SN 02