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 am off to visit with Donna Blackley of Fantasea Diving, which
is located less than a mile away at the Sonesta Beach Resort. She
is an energetic and dynamic individual who manages a superb dive
program. She is also very generous because she invited to take me
to the wreck of the Minnie Breslauer. There is no need to beware
those baring gifts of great diving.
As I previously
warned you about the need to do the hustle when getting geared-up,
I barely have time to take my gear out of the dive bag before I
hear Donna yelling, "We're here! It is time for the dive briefing."
Did I mention that she also runs a taught ship? The wreck is located
one mile from shore and at depths ranging from 30 to 70 feet. Needless
to say, it takes much longer to dive the site, than it does to reach
Minnie Breslauer, a 300-foot English steamer loaded with wine and
dried fruit, struck the South Shore reef in 1873. Sadly, it was
both her first and last voyage. I tell Donna that I want to be the
first one in the water so that I can lay claim to any wine left
on the bottom. She laughs and tells me that the wine was salvaged
and consumed many, many years ago. Oh well, it doesn't hurt to ask.
hope of vintage, liquid treasure, I do the two-step off the back
of the boat and start my dive. After equalizing and adjusting my
strobes and other camera equipment, I begin to look for the wreck.
At first, I start to think the visibility is going to be really
bad today because the water seems so murky. Then, I realize that
I am heading into a cloud, an aggregation or maybe it is just a
mob of Moon Jellyfish. They are everywhere. In all my years of diving
exotic locations around the globe, I have never, ever seen so many
large jellyfish in the open ocean.
pulsating, transparent bodies is mesmerizing. Like ballet dancers
lightly tiptoeing across a lavish stage, these jellyfish seem so
delicate, yet in complete harmony with their surroundings. I think
I could spend the rest of my dive with them, but I have a wreck
Minnie Breslauer's rudder, four-bladed propeller, steam boilers
and fractured wheelhouse lay below the haze created by the jellyfish.
The remnants of the wreck lay scattered over a wide area. Rambunctious
parrotfish and angelfish meet me at every turn. I can hear the parrotfish
munching on coral as the angels swim in and out of the remains.
Like so many of Bermuda's historic wrecks, the Minniw Breslauer
is both a living reef and an underwater museum.
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