Diving Has Never Been Better
By Paul Tzimoulis
With all of the doom and gloom about our marine environment, you might think diving is coming to an abrupt end. More than 100 environmental organizations constantly bombard us with messages about deteriorating water quality, decaying reefs and marine life slaughter. It is difficult to remain unaffected.
The irony is that, while the death of our oceans may appear imminent, recreational diving has never been better. You heard it right, diving today is far better than it was 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago!
Having been a diver for more than 45 years (never missed a year), I have been blessed with a unique perspective of diving's evolution-sort of an unscientific longitudinal study. And, when I compare decade to decade, the 1990s have definitely been the best and the most exciting.
The rapid evolution of dive resorts has brought about a new dimension of comfort and diving convenience, while bringing us closer to the wilderness frontier. Now you can now lounge in a guestroom with shower, television and air-conditioning, while staying on a remote island or in the jungles of Central America.
Amazing as it may seem, today's diver has an opportunity to see and photograph more fish than the divers of 40 years ago. With more divers in the water on a daily basis, the marine life has become accustomed to our presence and no longer fears the approach of bubble blowing apparitions. Brand new divers and snorkelers can frolic with the dozens of stingrays at Stingray City, observe a flight of Eagle Rays in the Turks & Caicos or play with big groupers in The Bahamas.
The advent of underwater parks has further enhanced the marine life population, both in diversity and abundance. Fragile species are now protected and have an opportunity to regenerate. Governments around the world have begun to recognize the economic importance of preserving and protecting their reefs and other marine life. Jewfish are making a comeback in Florida, Killer Whales have returned to Norway's fjords and sea turtles are flourishing in Hawaiian waters. And, the proliferation of this remarkable marine life is being enjoyed by today's divers.
Perhaps the most significant leap in the evolution of diving has been the rapid development of live-aboard dive boats in the past 12 years. These marvelous crafts have allowed recreational divers to probe the uncharted regions of the world and discover undersea attractions and experiences that were not imagined in the '60s and '70s. Today, divers travel to uninhabited seas and islands where they discover and photograph strange and rare creatures of every color in the rainbow.
In the early and middle years, divers feared larger creatures. Today, we have learned much about marine animal behavior and boldly swim with 20 foot Manta Rays, 40 foot Whale Sharks and 30 foot Killer Whales. Such encounters are the thrill of a lifetime and the reason divers keep coming back for more.
Still another significant leap in diving evolution is divers' new relationship with sharks. An estimated 200,000 divers willingly enter the water each year to swim with sharks and observe their behavior.
We have made incredible progress in the understanding of nature's most magnificent creatures.
The human mind has an amazing capacity for remembering the best and discarding the rest. We often hear old timers speak of "the good old days," when prices were low, taxes were reasonable and life was a lot slower paced. But, when it comes to diving, the good old days are now. Diving has never been better and the future offers an opportunity for even greater undersea adventures and discoveries.