Have you ever had a “crappy” dive? I’ve certainly had a few. I remember a divemaster at one Malaysian resort: Thinking he was the last diver, he decided to hang back, remove his wetsuit and feed the fish! Little did he know that we underwater photographers are always the last ones out, so when I swam over the reef ridge, I was confronted by a huge brown cloud and an exposed diver trying to swim away with his wetsuit around his ankles. Back on the boat, he wouldn’t even make eye contact – if only I took a picture!
However, one of the “crappiest” dives I’ve had to endure was in Guadalupe during some amazing great white encounters. We were there to film a “live” event for UK TV and had one week to rehearse the daily activities for the following week. The crew were mainly from the UK with much experience in working on such productions. However, many of them were clearly unseasoned sailors – the 24-hour cruise to Guadalupe saw the entire crew hurling over the side.
Once in Guadalupe, it was time to attend to our specialist kit and get the cages into the water. The boat’s saloon was converted into a TV studio, with hundreds of cables everywhere, multiple monitor screens on the wall, and surface-to-underwater intercommunications running from the camera to the onboard studio. Three of us divers were suspended in separate cages at different depths. I was in the cage to the side of the boat named “the cinema cage”; a cage designed for filming as there were no bars on one section of the cage. It was a major event and everyone was very excited when the first shark made an appearance.
Meanwhile, a sea-stricken crewmember was unloading his beef enchilada into the toilet. Unbeknownst to anyone, the sewage tank onboard was broken, thus once the flush was released, all of its contents went straight under the boat and into my cage!
So there we were testing the kit, checking the cables, and surrounded by great white sharks, when I heard one of my colleagues shouting on the intercommunications just before the first bit of toilet paper started to drift into my cage, soon after, a looming brown cloud followed, threatening to engulf me.
So what was I to do? Swim outside amongst the sharks or stay pout and sit it out? Despite the drop in visibility in the cage, I held on!