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 2

Today I am going "au natural" and will explore the Mary Celestia, a historic wreck from 1864. I will be joining Michael Burke, owner of Blue Water Divers, for this chance to visit a relic from the Civil War.

Blue Water is located in Somerset, about five miles from the Southampton Princess. Michael has been diving in these waters since he was old enough to walk. Following in the footsteps of his father, he has made diving and marine conservation his life's work. His passion is impossible to conceal. As he answers my many questions regarding the Mary Celestia, it's as if he is trying to reanimate her broken remains.

Before this 225-foot paddlewheel steamer finally plowed into the South Shore reef, she was covertly operated behind a variety of names. The frequent name changes were an attempt to conceal her dangerous missions of smuggling guns, ammunition, food and other supplies from England to the Confederacy. Though Bermuda was allied with the south during the Civil War, someone forgot to tell the reef. Ol' Dixie lost a loyal supporter when the ship went down.

Lying in only 55 feet of water, I see one paddlewheel standing erect as I descend toward her broken structure. I am presented with a fantastic photographic opportunity as the sun's rays shine around and through the paddlewheel spokes. My biggest challenge is the reduced visibility.

During the winter and spring months, the water can be chilly as temperatures fall to the mid 60's. However, the cold water offers outstanding visibility. In fact, the visibility usually exceeds 200 feet on most sites. While summer elevates the water temperature by 20 degrees, it also prompts algae blooms and other factors that reduce visibility. I estimate today's viz. to be about 60 feet.


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