BIO: 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.

That 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 destinations.

Johnson's images have been recognized in international competitions and appeared in numerous publications, including major diving magazines, as well as in calendars and advertisements.

 

Day 1

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.

In 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.

Two 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.

The 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.

This 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.


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