Scuba diving, Fiji, 2004

Scuba diving, Fiji, 2004

One from way deep down in the archives, taken before I had ever shot with an SLR or taken a darkroom class.

I hadn’t moved to San Diego yet. I hadn’t started grad school yet.

Fresh from undergraduate graduation, I spent four weeks in Australia and a week in Fiji before moving to the west coast. I got my scuba certification specifically for this trip, spending many nights in the diving well at the Penn State Natatorium. The class went until 10PM on Monday nights, and since it started in January, there were nights walking home from the pool when the hair sticking out from under my beanie froze solid before I made it back to my apartment. I did my certification dives in an extremely cold and unbelievably murky flooded quarry.

And then I dove the Great Barrier Reef. I saw (and some morbidly curious part of my brain wanted to touch) fire coral. A sea turtle swam past us. I ran out of air in my tank on one dive but handled it without panicking. When you’re floating weightless, it’s almost impossible to panic.

And then came Fiji. This was a wall dive off of a boat. The water in Fiji was clearer than any I’d seen before in my life. I recall sitting in the boat, looking down at the shimmering reef below. It wasn’t until we dove that I realized the reef sat 70 feet below the surface.

And oh yeah, the sea snake, pictured on the left. We ran into him on the reef, and my dive guide swam over and plucked him up. They’re only highly venomous. No big deal. This started a trend of run-ins with highly venomous snakes – there was also the baby rattler that I startled while hiking (well, okay, and maybe taking too-close photos of snakes) in Joshua Tree, along with the green mamba that darted across the road in front of Adrian and I at Addo Elephant Park in South Africa.

Life is ridiculous sometimes.

A note about the accidental diptych in this photo – I had a disposable 35mm underwater camera along on the dive. They’re generally rated for maybe 35 feet. I took it down to 60-70 feet, and while it didn’t leak, it appears that the pressure had some sort of impact on the film winding mechanism. I really should dig up the original print and redo the scan for a higher resolution archival file…