Hope everyone’s year is off to a great start and best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy 2018!
I had to check and see when the last time was I blogged and it’s been well over a year. Like many of you… life just gets in the way and god knows time goes by too quick. As my Mom would say be sure that you work to live not live to work… I’m in the middle somewhere.
I’ve been spending the last year or so doing something that “was” completely out of my comfort zone… out of left field… something a good friend had mentioned many times… SCUBA DIVING. And I absolutely love it now!!!
And since I live in Florida, two questions immediately came to mind, which were 1) what about alligators and 2) what about sharks? Turns out you really don’t have to worry about them that much… or so I’ve learned in my limited experience and talking with others that have been diving longer than I’ve been alive.
From what I know, they seem to prefer the solitude and comfort of being unseen. So diving in clear springs, caverns and rivers help. And they don’t like the bubbles divers release. An alligator will see you long before you see them and be long gone before you get there. More times than not alligators are more scared of us than we are of them, but you do have to be careful during mating season, which runs from April to June. Crocodiles are a different story in south Florida and are known to be more aggressive. You and I know that their bite force is more than enough to hold onto us, but they are more interested in smaller things that can fit in their mouth like birds, turtles, small dogs, etc.
A scuba shop owner, dive buddy and friend of mine once said that if they really want to get you, you won’t see it coming – that was comforting in a way… I think? In all seriousness, sharks also do not like the bubbles divers give off while breathing under water. And we are not their native food source so they don’t really look at us in this manner. A majority of bites that occur are when people are swimming in the surf and it’s more of an exploratory bite than anything else. Sharks do some feeding for other fish in the surf and are often confused thus the “exploratory” bite. Needless to say, I grew up at the beach and still will not swim in the surf. Now, I’ve been on many dives where we saw sharks (10-15 feet away) and they kept on swimming as if we weren’t even there. I’ve even done several dives in Epcot’s 6 million gallon aquarium (Dive Quest) that houses many sharks and you had to hold your breathe with no bubbles just to get them to come anywhere close to you. And regarding blood in the water, they don’t really like our blood. Coincidentally, I cut myself on one ocean dive and was a little worried… and I did not attract sharks from miles away not was I viciously attacked. I saw no sharks on that particular dive. However, I do understand that there are several shark varieties that are more aggressive like Bull, Hammerhead and Tiger sharks and I’ve had Bull sharks swim right by as well. They prefer the blood of their native food source. So once again nothing to worry about…
Here’s a link to one of my Epcot dives at Dive Quest: https://youtu.be/1SdfZJKbiTo
As I was vetting different scuba shops, I learned about the different certification organizations NAUI and PADI then stumbled across Scuba Quest on the Meetup website looking for scuba groups. David, Scuba Quest Owner, and I talked scuba for a while and next thing you know I’m certified through his shop (NAUI certified) and was diving almost every weekend. I still dive regularly now, but have other activities occupying my time… that’s another blog.
Quick plug for David and his shop Scuba Quest at 8092 South Orange Blossom Trail…
Everybody at the shop has always been very helpful, knowledgeable and patient with all of my questions (and I had quite a few) about diving and when purchasing my personal dive gear. And the pricing is very competitive! I love the fact the shop is like a family, also a family-owned business and they have a passion for helping both children and adults with special needs of all levels at the NTC through their ministry. David Sr., David Jr., Jason, Kim, Josh and Roger have been awesome and frequently I stop by the dive shop just to look at gear and wind up talking about everything under the sun. I’m always meeting new and fun people in the dive community at the dive shop, charters and clubs. It’s opened up an entirely new and fun social genre to me that I didn’t know existed. And it all started with a phone call… thanks David and everybody at Scuba Quest! Looking forward to many more dives and destination dive trips!
Honesty, I’ve enjoyed it so much I’ve received several advanced certifications since last year and have been on many dive trips all over central Florida with David, his family, employees and other divers and have trips to Bonaire and Mexico among other places. The advanced certifications for me are a way to gain knowledge, confidence and comfort in this almost alien-like environment that few experience. You’ll see sharks, sea turtles, loggerhead turtles, goliath grouper, moral eels, lionfish squid, blowfish, puffer fish, stingrays, beautiful coral, sponge varieties, tropical fish and so much more. And when you start traveling, you’ll be immersed in not only scuba abroad, but different people, cultures, wildlife, cuisine and much more. On a sidebar, I ate so much on first dive trip, I thought I was going to come back weighing more than one I left. Turns out we dove so much I actually weighed less!!!
Many shops, or at least Scuba Quest, offer exploratory scuba classes where you can try it for free. If you enjoy it you’ll find yourself wanting to learn more, diving different places and immersing yourself in the scuba community. The scuba community is a small close-knit group, everyone is so nice and they share your enthusiasm and intrigue about scuba, whether it is equipment-talk, local dives or destination dive trips. I swore I would do only one night dive (as a part of Advanced Certification) just to do it because I had some trepidation about… well… swimming around in the ocean at night… not being able to see… with Jaws. It turns out there was more visibility than I though due to the full moon, the marine life is very active and not to mention the bioluminescence. Now, night dives are my favorite type of dive. Most recreational dives seem to be 30-60 feet, but I’ve been as deep as 160 feet and had no problems or worries.
Some of this might seem a little scary when you consider your only source of air (or life) is a tank of air. The attraction to me is the amount of focus, preparation and attention to detail that is required. When I’m diving I’m thinking of nothing else… and I love it. Plan your dive and dive your plan. I purchased good new equipment, plan the dive, dive with a good dive buddy, do pre-dive checks and hand signal confirmations, etc. I would recommend not purchasing any gear until after you complete your Open Water certification because in that short amount of time you will find you have certain preferences. So take your time and visit your local scuba shop and talk things out before you make the investment.
And let me tell you that there is something surreal, quiet, exhilarating about being under the water where few people venture. The words to adequately describe the feeling of scuba escape me… I’m not doing it justice. To interact and observe the marine life in their own environment is truly a memory worth making on every single dive let alone making new friends.
And there is limitless information on the Internet through scuba websites and forums. Odds are you know somebody that scuba dives… you just don’t know it. So go to your local dive shops, strike up a conversation and before you know it you’ll be planning your first destination dive trip!