Sunday, December 7, 2008

The World's Best DIVING & RESORTS

One of my pictures is published in the 2009 edition of Diving & Resorts Magazine which is put together by the staff of Sport Diver Magazine. The picture in question is a topside image of the Wakatobi Dive Resort.

Henrik Rosen, Vice President Sales & Marketing Wakatobi Dive Resort, said "We love that image and it’s almost a bit of a trademark shot for the resort and we will always remain thankful to you for it."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Beauties and Beasts ~ Photo Essay

Two of my images were selected to be used to help illustrate a profile of six weird and wonderful underwater creatures in British Columbia Magazine's Winter 2008 issue. British Columbia Magazine is the geographic and travel quarterly of British Columbia and
is mailed to more than 150 different countries. There are readers in Germany and Japan and Thailand who look forward to learning more about British Columbia with every issue.

One image was that of a Clown Shrimp... and the other was the face of a Wolf Eel.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our World Underwater Dive Show

February, 20-22, 2009

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

Our World-Underwater is in it’s 39th year and is the oldest, continuous running scuba diving events in North America!

We will be presenting two seminars during the show about adventure diving in British Columbia.

Tropical Splendor in a Cold Sea ~
British Columbia's Emerald Sea Realm

Emerald Sea Jewel ~
Diving British Columbia's Legendary Browning Passage

Sunday, November 23, 2008

While it has been awhile since I have posted any updates, it is not because I have been lazy.

My article and cover shot about diving on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast will appear in the December 2008 issue of Northwest Dive News. I am also now listed on their masthead as being their Travel Editor.

In June 2008, I snagged the cover shot of Canada's DIVER Magazine. The cover shot is a picture taken while on an assignment in the Cook Islands.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The "Photo Lama" ~ all work & no play?

Local legends persist in British Columbia about the persuasive powers of the "Photo Lama". As this picture will confirm, he once convinced two lovely woman from aboard Clavella, one of the province's bygone scuba diving liveaboards, to leave their drysuits on the boat and plunge into the 47 degree waters surrounding the Queen Charlotte Islands in their bathing suits! From left to right, Chris Humphries, Jett "Photo Lama" Britnell, Anissa Reed...and a very young Captain John deBoeck (Browning Pass HideAway Lodge) leaning over backwards by the outboard. Cool shades, John.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Diving Pioneers - Hans and Lotte Hass

Dr. Hans Hass is one of the true pioneers of recreational diving and one of the earliest practitioners of underwater still photography and cinematography. Hass acquired a secretary in 1943, a beautiful young girl of seventeen, Lotte Baierl, who soon established herself as an accomplished underwater photographer in her own right. They later married and were inseparable.

Lotte wowed the world more than 50 years ago with her diving exploits alongside husband Hans Hass. "I was originally given a job as his secretary, and I went off and learned to dive secretly," Lotte once explained, "Then, when the opportunity arose, I revealed that I could dive." Together, Hans and Lotte cast the mode for what to this day is the archetypal underwater photographer/model team.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sport Diver Magazine Cold Water Cover First!

In the April 1996 issue of Sport Diver (USA), I wrote the feature article. The icing on the cake for me was one of my pictures of a female diver with a Giant Pacific Octopus appeared on the cover of the magazine. The editor told me that at the time it was the first cold water diving picture that ever appeared on their magazine's cover. Cool!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

I would urge anyone who reads the following Press Release to go to the web link below and sign some petitions to save sharks. Cheers!

Over 50 percent of oceanic shark species threatened with extinction!

Press Release
May 22,2008

Experts highlight actions to stem declines and ensure sustainable fishing

22nd May 2008 – The first study to determine the global threat status of 21 species of wide-ranging oceanic pelagic sharks and rays reveals serious overfishing and recommends key steps that governments can take to safeguard populations. These findings and recommendations for action are published in the latest edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

This international study, organised by the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG), was conducted by 15 scientists from 13 different research institutes around the world, with additional contributions from scores of other SSG members.

The experts determined that 16 out of the 21 oceanic shark and ray species that are caught in high seas fisheries are at heightened risk of extinction due primarily to targeted fishing for valuable fins and meat as well as indirect take in other fisheries. In most cases, these catches are unregulated and unsustainable. The increasing demand for the delicacy ‘shark fin soup’, driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, means that often the valuable shark fins are retained and the carcasses discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded.

Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to their tendency to take many years to become sexually mature and have relatively few offspring.

“Fishery managers and regional, national and international officials have the opportunity and the obligation to halt and reverse the rate of loss of biodiversity and ensure sharks and rays are exploited sustainably.” says lead author Nicholas Dulvy from the Centre for Environment, Fishers and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft Laboratory in Lowestoft, UK.

“The current rate of biodiversity loss is ten to a hundred times greater than historic extinction rates, and as humans make increasing use of ocean resources it is possible that many more aquatic species, particularly sharks, are coming under threat,” says Dulvy, now based at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. “This does not have to be an inevitability. With sufficient public support and resulting political will, we can turn the tide."

The group’s specific recommendations for governments address the need to:

  • Establish and enforce science-based catch limits for sharks and rays
  • Ensure an end to shark finning (removing fins and discarding bodies at sea)
  • Improve the monitoring of fisheries taking sharks and rays
  • Invest in shark and ray research and population assessment
  • Minimize incidental catch (‘bycatch’) of sharks and rays
  • Cooperate with other countries to conserve shared populations.

“The traditional view of oceanic sharks and rays as fast and powerful too often leads to a misperception that they are resilient to fishing pressure,” said Sonja Fordham, co-author of the paper and Deputy Chair, IUCN Shark Specialist Group and Policy Director, Shark Alliance. “Despite mounting evidence of decline and increasing threats to these species, there are no international catch limits for oceanic sharks. Our research shows that action is urgently needed on a global level if these fisheries are to be sustainable.”

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Memories of Sea Hunt


Like many divers born during the Baby Boomer years, I was lured to scuba diving by watching the television series SEA HUNT. Starring Lloyd Bridges as Mike Nelson, an ex-Navy UDT Frogman turned freelance undersea investigator, the show followed Mike's adventures as he investigated crime, performed rescues, salvaged sunken objects, conducted scientific experiments, disarmed underwater mines, fought bad guys underwater with knives and spear guns and running afoul of sharks and other denizens of the deep. Whenever danger or excitement lurked below the surface, Mike Nelson was ready to go.

Over the show’s opening credits there was that haunting, ominous theme song. This weekly TV series was one of the most popular shows in syndication during the Sixties (episodes were filmed from 1957-1961). I can vividly recall watching an episode that featured a life or death struggle with a giant octopus. Yup, I was hooked and knew that I would scuba dive when I grew up.

It was this show that inspired me at age five to don a surplus World War II gas mask and plunge the top half of my body into a huge iron cauldron that was stocked with goldfish in our backyard. It was amazing…for a brief moment not only could I see the fish clearly, but also I noticed the light flakes of rust on the bottom of the cauldron. As water started to seep into the gas mask…no worries, I thought, because the gas mask had a hose and canister attached to it. Surely, I could breathe underwater with that? Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that a gas mask will not work underwater and I had to quickly abandon my first ever dive when water filled the mask. After that, I can’t tell you how many neighborhood garden hoses I cut up for pieces of hose and tried taping them to a large Coke bottle to construct a tank and breathing hose. Such was my desire to breath underwater.

One unusual aspect of the series was that each SEA HUNT episode closed out with a short monologue by Bridges where while often standing at the wheel of his boat, Argonaut, he said something about protecting the ocean and then invited viewers to come back for the following week’s show. A sample list of closing monologues follows:

"Hello there. I'm Lloyd Bridges. Skin diving is fun and adventure for young and old, but it can be dangerous, so know the sport well and don't take any chances. Be with you next week for another exciting Sea Hunt."

"Hi, there. I'm Lloyd Bridges. Skin diving is certainly a lot of fun, and it's full of adventure. See some more of it again next week, huh, when there'll be another excursion into that fabulous underwater world of Sea Hunt."

"I'm Lloyd Bridges, inviting you to join us for another action-packed story of underwater adventure one week from today" [Descends steps into water wearing a wearing scuba tanks]

"I'll be back next week at this same time with another Sea Hunt story. Plan to be with us again, huh?
"You know, three-fifths of the world is covered by the sea, and how little most of us know about that underwater world. Go below with us again next week, huh, for another thrilling adventure in Sea Hunt."

It has been estimated that over one million fans that took up recreational Scuba diving from becoming interested in the sport while watching SEA HUNT. As some might say…they sure don’t make shows like this anymore…

Monday, May 19, 2008

Necessity is the mother of invention for this underwater photographer...

Once upon a time… while on a diving assignment in Vanuatu, I encountered several cuttlefish during a dive. Since my underwater camera housing was set up with a Nikon F3 body and a Nikon 55mm macro lens, conventional underwater photography thinking would dictate that wide-angle

photography would be impossible with a macro lens. Such are the fundamental laws of underwater photography… one cannot change their lens underwater.

It was at that moment that a fellow underwater photographer set their aim upon taking a wide-angle picture of me with the cuttlefish in the foreground. In one of those ah ha, I think I can, moments, I focused on the cuttlefish using my macro lens. Miraculously, I was able to include my fellow diver in the background as I focused my lens on the cuttlefish. The results were pleasing and the magazines editor agreed and used that unlikely picture for the magazine cover shot!

Sometimes…in the mystical realm beyond the limitations of both one’s talent and their equipment… the diving gods simply seem to smile upon us...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Deep Sea Diver for a Day!

I came across a couple pictures from the early eighties taken of me dressed in commercial hard hat diving gear. The pictures were taken in Seattle, Washington, at the Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle, a place where people go to fulfill their dreams of becoming successful commercial divers.

I was participating in a scuba divers day trip to the facility. Apart from spending about ten minutes underwater walking around in Lake Washington in this hard hat gear, we also experienced a decompression chamber dive to a simulated depth of 160 feet!

Sometimes in life... one gets to do some very cool things ~

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Northwest Dive & Travel Show, WOW!

The 2008 Northwest Dive & Travel Show exceeded all expectations and sold out! It is rare for a first run trade show to sell out so drinks all around to Northwest Dive News' Rick Stratton and the small army of show volunteers who made it all happen. My presentation, "Liquid Rush - Descent into British Columbia's Nakwakto Rapids" was well received and it was great to catch up with some old diving friends. We will definitely plan on attending the 2009 show .

If you are interested in diving Nakwakto Rapids and doing some of the best cold water diving in the universe, contact John DeBoeck, one of the most knowledgeable diving guides in the Pacific Northwest, at the Browning Pass Hideaway Lodge...

We also attended Captain Mike Lever's excellent presentation on diving with Great White sharks at Mexico's, Guadalupe Island. This surely ranks as being one of the best Great White shark diving experiences on the planet. Check it out...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Northwest Dive & Travel Show, May 3 & 4, 2008

Tacoma Convention Center
The largest consumer dive and travel show in the Pacific Northwest!

On Saturday May 4, I will be presenting a digital slide presentation titled "Liquid Rush ~ Descent into British Columbia's Nakwakto Rapids"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another Goodbye, To Another Good Friend - In Memoriam ~ Jack Norman Van Hove

R.I.P. Jacko
August 26, 1944 - February 22, 2008

I gave a eulogy at a funeral memorial for my best friend today.

Eulogy by Jett Britnell
March 15, 2008

Good afternoon everybody. First, to Alex and members of Jack’s family, our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences go out to you.

It is an honour for me to speak today about the life of Jack Van Hove. Shock. Disbelief. Sadness. Tragedy. Words we have all uttered in recent weeks to express our profound grief and deep sorrow over the sudden passing of a dear friend. His passing was unexpected, sudden, untimely and seemingly so unfair. Dearly loved by so many, Jack was one of a kind; the older of two children, a devoted son, beloved husband to Maureen and a loving father to Alex. We've all lost someone who was very special. And Jack being Jack… well, you know he would just tell us all not to make a fuss.

I cannot tell you much about what Jack did with his life before we met. I always told him that whatever he did before didn’t really matter because his life truly only began the day we met. He would always counter that by saying that he “rescued me from my dreary little life”. I know that he spent many hours as pilot flying a DC3 in Peru. He was trying to log enough hours to become a commercial airline pilot. He later changed his mind and for a time ran a restaurant before getting into the hot tub /spa business.

As you all know, Jack was a kind and decent man. He was a compassionate soul who possessed a great intellect, chuckling humor and in many respects…he was a genius. He abhorred violence and believed in the goodness of others. What is it that we remember when we think of Jack? I think everyone who knew him would agree with me on this…his sense of humor. His humor was infectious. He could make us laugh and he always endevoured to make others happy.

A Jack of all trades, he could converse knowledgably about Druids, plate tectonics, Walt Disney, or just about any topic you could possibly imagine. He was a voracious reader who literally devoured books with his mind. A sharp wit, he was like the cat that ate the canary. There was nothing Jack could not master when he put his mind to it. He was a world traveler, videographer, beekeeper, horse owner, carpenter, builder, restauranteur, electrician, scuba diver, airline pilot, boat sinker, boat floater, treasure hunt organizer, chef, underwater model and inventor. Scuba divers who are here today will, of course, remember such infamous inventions as the prawn gun, an underwater device for harvesting prawns and the legendary MF Light. The MF light was essentially a battery powered car headlight that divers could take underwater. It was years ahead of the compact high-powered underwater lights we can easily purchase off the shelf today. And almost 15 years before Plasma large screen TV’s were readily available, Jack had the biggest Sony TV any of us had ever seen.

No doubt there are a few here today who may be feeling that Jack was their best friend. As far as I could tell, Jack never really treated anyone differently from anyone else. It's that laugh, too, that lingers with us, right? Always welcoming and helpful, you could count on him for anything, at any time. Evidence supporting this fact arrived yesterday to me in an email. I will share with you sentiments expressed by our mutual friend, Dave Fleetham. Today, Dave lives in Maui and is one of the world’s top underwater photographers. Here is what Dave had to say about Jack…

“It is difficult, if not impossible to measure the influence of a life on another, we all do what we do without any real idea as to its effect on each other or the world at large. Sometimes, as in the case of Jack, we know the influence is great, but still lack, and will forever lack, the depth of that influence. For each of you here today Jack’s presence in our lives was dramatic, yet different, characterized by our own perspectives and relationship to him. As a loving father and husband to wife Maureen and son Alex, his relationships were one thing, all very personal and really known only to them.

Yet, within those varied realms of love there existed a common theme, one that we all experienced, though we each absorbed differently. Jack’s positive nature affected us all from family to friends alike. It was contagious, for him everything was possible. It was this unrelenting attitude that good things were always just around the corner that endeared him to us all. It was this unbridled enthusiasm that attracted the circle of friends that are gathered here now. Many years ago I came to Jack at his old home/business that I remember well. I had some sort of a problem with a camera housing that I could not find an answer to. I kept saying no…Jack kept saying yes…yes I can do it…yes it is no problem…yes it will work…yes, yes, yes. Yes to it all. Yes to life. In a world with far too many no’s, Jack was an anomaly, I don’t remember hearing that word from him. Your mark is on me Jack, as it is on all of us who have spent time with you. It is the mark of yes! Yes to life in all its adventures, in all its sorrows and now to all of its grief."

David Fleetham
Maui, Hawaii – March 14, 2008

When Jack met Maureen, he began living in two worlds. One was the undersea world of scuba diving, the other world was what he affectionately referred to as being the Sport of Kings…or as he would put it…the horsey world. For those of you who are here today from the horsey world, please allow me some slack as my history with Jack is from that other world of reefs, sharks, seahorses and shipwrecks.

Scuba diving was one of Jack’s great passions. He was one of the best divers I have ever plumbed the ocean depths with. Although, I never would have guessed this when, on our first dive together, I watched him really struggling to dress into his dry suit. I figured it out about ten seconds before he did that he was trying to force his head through the sleeve of his dry suit. As Jack realized what he was doing…you could see him stop and quickly whip his head out the suit…and look around to see if anyone was watching. And what does he see?, me grinning like a Cheshire cat. That was 25 years ago. I have known Jack for half my lifetime.

Soon enough, Jack invited me to come to one of his infamous slide parties. Jack’s slide parties offered a venue wherein scuba divers and their friends could watch some of the best local underwater photographers display their most recent images. These almost monthly events held at Jack’s loft apartment provided a setting for many of us here to develop what has turned out to be lifelong friendships. These were the best of times... and Jack was the unifier, the heart and soul who brought so many of us together. Our friendship flourished…

One day, Jack arranged for a group of us to go skiing at Blackcomb Mountain. When I told him I was not going because I didn’t know how to ski, Jack would hear none of it and said he would teach me. Jack was an excellent skier who had skied in Europe in his younger days. Jack taught me to ski in only one day. He spent an entire morning with me on the bunny hill teaching me two skills. How to turn and how to stop. Just before noon he says rather nonchalant, “OK, you’re ready, let’s go up to the top of the mountain.” I was not so sure that I was ready…and figured this was all just a ploy to have lunch up top. But Jack seemed convinced that the fruits of his morning labour would be rewarded. Much to my surprise, by the end of that day, Jack and I were skiing down from the peak of Blackcomb mountain.

Soon…Jack’s altruistic interests seemed to turn to wanting to teach me how to travel. So we hatched a scheme to go diving together for three weeks in the Caribbean. In January 1985, we set off on a three-week island-hopping scuba diving vacation to the Caribbean. Jack proved to be a wonderful traveling companion and we experienced sheer delight tin each other’s company.

On the Dutch island of Bonaire we figuratively dived our brains out. While most diving guests could only last 30 or 40 minutes underwater, Jack and I were stretching our dives out for more than an hour and a half. After a full day of diving and a leisurely dinner, we would go night diving and would be underwater well past midnight. One afternoon, Jack was scribbling on a postcard and looked up and asked me…”How do you spell Maureen?” I told him M.a.u.r.e.e.n. However, he insisted, it was M.o.r.e.e.n. A lively debate ensued and the more Jack insisted his spelling was correct, the more my ribs were splitting from laughter.

From Bonaire we traveled to the French island of Martinique where we happened to dive with an experienced older man from Paris who proclaimed numerous times that…”I was not the first, but I dove with the first”. He was referring to the fact that while he was not with Jacques Cousteau when he stared diving, but that he had dived with Cousteau. Jack would always repeat this line to me and smile one of those smiles that only I would understand. Our friendship changed during that Caribbean adventure. We were no longer friends; we were more like brothers after that. I paraphrase that time in our lives as “We were not the first, but we dived with the best!”

If I may recount another diving episode that further strengthened the bond between us. The year was 1987 and Jack, Gary Bridges, Neil McDaniel and I were on a liveaboard dive adventure to the Central Pacific. We were diving a remote pacific atoll hundreds of miles from anywhere. I happened to see a shark swim into a cave and decided to follow it in. It was an immense cave about the size of a living room. Jack followed me in. The shark had settled on the sea floor at the back of the cave. I wanted to get a picture of that shark and tagged Jack to be the underwater model. Jack settled into safe position, but I motioned him to move in closer. He moved about 6 inches. I shook my head and motioned for him to move closer to the shark. Again, shaking my head…I motioned for him to move closer. Scuba divers learn to speak with their eyes and I cannot repeat what Jack’s eyes were saying to me at that moment. So he moves closer… which was too close for the shark. Something strange and wonderful happens between two men in an underwater cave when an agitated shark is snapping its jaws while swimming in furious circles around them looking for an exit. The shark eventually found it’s way out leaving Jack and I both unscathed. When we surfaced, the first words out of my mouth were “Why did you have to get so close?” I can still hear him ranting back at me between the laughter today…

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In one picture on this poster here up front, there is one of Jack and I together. The picture was taken in the late 80’s soon after a dive with six-gill sharks at Hornby Island. I have kept this picture in my office since the day it was taken. I feel it epitomizes my relationship with Jack. He’s saying something to me with that wry grin of his, and I’m shaking my head. It was always like that with us…

We also shared some grand moments above water. Jack was the best man at my wedding and I was the best man at his and Maureen’s nuptials. Actually, Jack had three best men at his wedding. Jed Edmonson and Tom Matthews also stood up for Jack. Jack and Maureen were God Parents to my son, Danen. I remember visiting Jack and Maureen outside the delivery room when their son, Alex, was born. Our lives were so intertwined… Jack recently told me over lunch, how much he and Maureen had loved each other. He was not one prone to exaggerate; he would say to me that whenever they encountered any rough spots in their marriage, they just worked it out. And after Alex was born, can anyone remember a time when Alex was not in tow? The Van Hove’s went everywhere together.

On December 1, 2007, several weeks after my actual birthday on November 13th, many of you here today gathered at my home to celebrate my 50th birthday party. It was a surprise party arranged by my fiancée, Katie. The snow was falling and Katie wondered if anyone would show as the driving conditions were worsening by the hour. My mom told Katie, “Don’t worry, they’re all scuba divers, they will show”. And most everyone did show up. Including Jack, and his family. They had the farthest to travel…and he showed up. I’m forever grateful for that evening. Not necessarily for the fact that I had turned 50, but that it was an opportunity for Jack to socialize with his friends. And Jack, being Jack, seized that magical moment to tell Katie all the sordid details about that scoundrel she is going to marry. It was perfect.

On Super Bowl day in early February, Katie, and I visited Jack and Alex at their farm. We spent several hours with Jack walking the grounds and discussing the future. When it came time for us to leave, Jack and I hugged each other goodbye. I don’t recall when we started doing that. It was something we always did… we were like brothers in arms.

Many people make the mistake of judging someone’s life by its length rather than by its depth, by its problems rather than its promises. Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean. To live in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind is not to die. An ocean is both deep and wide. Jack has left us… but in his wake he leaves behind so much for us all to be grateful for…so much to cherish… and we are all beneficiaries of his infinite grace. He personified the true meaning of loyalty and friendship.
On Thursday, March 6, Alex had a private service at the grave site were he said his goodbyes to his dad. Jack’s ashes were interned next to his one true love, Maureen, along with his diving regulator and a fine piece of cedar. Jack would have loved that...

I spoke to Jack on the phone about one week before his accident. He was in good spirits and he was the Jack I have always known and loved. We were already making plans to get together with both him and Alex… and he spoke about wanting to go diving with me. It was just like Dave Fleetham stated in his email to me… ”Within those varied realms of love there existed a common theme.”

Jack knew that death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. Jack would want for all of us to embrace life and live it to our fullest potential. He would say… be kind to one another…and always… strive to be the best we can be. Always try to say yes, instead of no. And to never, ever, forget to put on your dive fins before you leap overboard…

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Northwest Dive and Travel Expo!

May 3 & 4, 2008
Tacoma Convention Center

The largest consumer diving and travel show in the Pacific Northwest

We will be there!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Boston Sea Rovers 54th Annual International 2008 Dive Clinic

I was a guest speaker this year at the Boston Sea Rovers 2008 Dive Show, March 8 & 9. The Boston Sea Rovers is the oldest, most well respected underwater association in the United States. For more than 50 years, the Rovers have brought together the Who's Who in the underwater community to help educate Scuba divers and the general public about the underwater world. A good time was had by all. Boston is a great city as were the Sea Rovers show organizers and members that we met during our stay. As in previous years, the show was held at the historic Fairmont Copley Hotel. Built in 1912, it is one of the most striking hotels I have ever roomed at.

My presentation entitled "Liquid Rush: Descent into Nakwakto Rapids" was held in the hotel's Oval Room. The audience was told that several famous individuals had performed in that very same room, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Vic Damone and even John F. Kennedy once gave a speech there. Very cool!