Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sharks el amor!

One of my fondest undersea experiences occurred back in 1982 while I was diving at Hornby Island, B.C. It was my first visit to the island and I had ventured there to dive with the island's famed six-gill sharks. In fact, this was my first attempt at shark diving. I can remember being extremely excited as I had studied and admired sharks since I was a very young boy.

While I was putting on my drysuit, I was thinking how far it seemed I had travelled from the time I stood alone in front of my fifth grade class at Regina Public School in Ottawa to deliver my interest talk on sharks. Yes, back then I knew my sharks all right. I was a virtual fountain of knowledge about tiger sharks, blue sharks, bull sharks, lemon sharks, hammerhead sharks and, of course, what kind of shark expert would I have been if I could not sermonize about the infamous great white shark. And this was all several years before the movie, Jaws, created its own kind of shark frenzy by capitalizing on the general public's inherent fear of sharks.

Sadly, in recent times, the world's shark population have come under increasing pressure from humans. Some species are now threatened with extinction, and some sharks have entirely disappeared from reefs and open ocean regions where they were once found in large numbers. It is estimated that one third of the more than 400 shark species are threatened with extinction or are close to being threatened. Sarah Fowler of the World Conservation Union has said, "Fisheries can remove 50 to 90% of an entire shark stock in only 10 years" Fowler estimates that 38 million to 70 million sharks are killed each year for their fins alone.

Suffice to say, the sea's entire ecosystem will be negatively impacted if sharks are removed from their position at the top of the ocean's food chain.

Do not eat shark fin soup!

Look me up ~ I'm not that hard to find

According to the USA Census Bureau, fewer than 0.001% of USA residents have the first name "Jett" ...and 0.0002% have the surname "Britnell". Since the USA has a population of approximately 300 million residents, statistcians estimate that there is only one American who goes by the name Jett Britnell.

And that Jett Britnell would presumably be me ~ if I was not already a Canuck! ...aka Canadian

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Diamond Head (Death March) Day Hike

Honolulu, Hawaii, April 2008: Kathryn and I hiked to the summit of Diamond Head, the most famous volcanic crater in the world! This famous landmark is a volcanic tuff cone that overlooks the Pacific Ocean on the Southeast Coast of O'ahu. It was originally named Laeahi by the ancient Hawaiians, which translates as "brow of the tuna." Looking at the silhouette of the crater from Waikiki Beach, one begins to see the resemblance.

I made the following picture of Waikiki Beach while on top of Diamond Head.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

Hawaii: The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is "ground zero" where World War II began for the United States. Following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto stated: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant..."

The USS Arizona War Memorial serves as the final resting place for many of the battleship's 1,177 crew member’s who lost their lives on that fateful Sunday morning on December 7, 1941.

The addition of the Battleship Missouri and the 1999 opening of the USS Missouri Memorial has further enhanced the importance of this historic area. It was upon the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay where the Japanese surrendered to United States General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz, ending World War II, the bloodiest war the world had ever seen.

During our visit in April 2008 one definitely gets that haunting feeling you are on hallowed ground. At the far end of the memorial is a marble wall that bears the

names of all those killed on the USS Arizona, protected behind velvet ropes.

Viewing the wall of names can be an emotionally intense experience. One can still see oil seeping from the wreck to the surface. These “black tears” are called "the tears of the Arizona."

Definitely a must see... once in everyone’s lifetime. The following poem from a fallen soldier speaks eloquently about remembrance...

"If you are able, save them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go. Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have left and what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own. And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind."

Major Micheal Davis O'Donnell
Date of Loss: 24 March 1970

Shaking Hands with Diving Royalty

Dateline: October 1995. I was in Viva Las Vegas attending the DEMA (Diving Equipment Manufacturers Association) trade show as a Media Representative for Canada’s Diver Magazine. It was there that I was able to take advantage of a photo op and share a brief handshake with Jean-Michel Cousteau, French explorer, environmentalist, educator, film producer, and the first son of ocean legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. A gracious and patient man if ever there was tirelessly shaking hands with numerous show patrons at the US Divers Booth.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pacific Northwest Divers Rock!

Kathryn and I just returned home after participating at this year’s Tacoma Dive & Travel Show. Apart from some technical glitches that seemed to be plaguing the projectors for several presenters, my presentation seemed to strike the right chord with those in attendance. A mucho “thank you!” to fellow Canadian & guest speaker, James Cosgrove, who saved the day by firing up his projector.

When my wife and I arrived at the dive show we were thrilled to discover that not only had my story, “A Tale of Two Sounds – Adventure Diving in Barkley & Nootka Sound”, been published as the feature story for the Northwest Dive News, May 2009, Tacoma Dive & Travel Dive Show issue, but also one of my images had been selected as the magazine’s cover shot. Northwest Dive News Editor/Publisher, Rick Stratton, commented on the piece... "You made me wait for it...but it was worth it. Your story is great! Nice Work!

To add to the weekend’s festivities, the world's biggest talent show, “America’s Got Talent”, was conducting auditions at the Tacoma Trade & Convention Center. Quite interesting to see the long line-ups of musicians, singers, dancers, jugglers and clowns who were willing to put it on the line for fame & fortune. I can hear it all now...

"Mr America's Got Talent Producer, all I've got is this dream and a pocketful of hope. Now watch closely as Michigan J. Frog sings and dances to "Hello, My Baby!"

Suffice to say…we both had a fabulous time in Tacoma and... “The Hoff” was nowhere in sight.

By the way, if you are ever looking for a place to dine in
Tacoma, Kathryn and I give double thumbs up to a fine dining establishment called Indochine Asian Dining Lounge. Having dined there now two years in a row, it is now kind of a show tradition for us. Check it out if you are in the area and be sure to order the "Crab Wontons."

Maui ~ Hawaii’s Waterworld, April 2009

Northwest Dive News published my story, Maui ~ Hawaii’s Waterworld, in their April 2009 National edition. NWDN’s Art Director, IJ James, replied in an email:

“I got the photos that time, they are fantastic! Thanks so much!!!!

Browning Pass Hideaway Resort Ad

One of the best cold water diving operations in the known universe used two of my images “a wolf-eel head and octopus & diver”, in a magazine ad for the resort.

Browning Pass HideAway Resort Port Hardy, BC, Canada
"the Best Diving in the Known Universe!"
Office: PO Box 866, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5N2 877 725 2835 or 250 753 3751

Check out these new articles about diving with us!
Advanced Diver Sept 08 "Browning Pass HideAway"
Diver Magazine Dec 08 "Nakwakto Rapids"

Wakatobi Dive Resort Magazine Ads

What can I say? Wakatobi Dive Resort really loves my Wakatobi Bungalows picture. In their own words… "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.” Henrik Rosen, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Wakatobi Dive Resort.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jett Britnell presents at Tacoma Dive & Travel Expo, April 25th

April 25-26, 2009 Tacoma, Washington

Northwest Dive and Travel Expo, 2009 is the largest and most highly anticipated dive and travel show in the Pacific Northwest.

Saturday April 25, 2009, I will be a guest speaker and the topic of my presentation will be "Tropical Splendor a Cold Sea". (Room C at 3PM).

Again this year, the show is being held at the Tacoma Trade & Convention Center.

See you there!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Le Monde du Silence ~ a scuba diving classic

Le Monde du Silence (The Silent World 1956) is an early underwater documentary film based on the best-selling book of the same name by famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. The opening sequence shows five Calypso scuba divers descending into the deep with burning phosphorus torches in hand, blazing a path of light into the blue ocean depths bubbles percolating to the surface in their wake. Visually... it's very cool!

This motion picture is a compilation of material obtained on the Calypso-National Geographic 1954-1955 expeditions to the Red Sea, the Mediterranean. Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
Cousteau’s book, The Silent World 1955, which tells a different story than his movie, is still a great read about the early years of undersea exploration.

In 1968, Cousteau was asked to make a TV series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. For the next eight years this series introduced the general public to a world about a ship named , scuba diving buddies with names such as Falco & Delemont, sharks, whales, dolphins, coral reefs, sunken treasure, and yellow submarines.

As a young kid interested in diving and just about everything to do with the ocean realm, this TV series provided much fodder for my imagination...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Book Worth Reading!

It’s Thursday, April 9th, and I’m LMAO at 37,000 feet on a Westjet flight from Vancouver to Toronto. I was thoroughly enjoying the book, “Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of A Rogue Travel Writer” by Chuck Thompson.

The author is an experienced travel writer and former editor in chief for the now defunct Travelocity magazine. His tomb provides the reader with some real world insider accounts about the plight of modern day travel writing. This is a novel that challenges the mindless conformity that travel writers often succumb to. Thompson’s writing is edgy and anything but dull as he pushes the literary envelope and provides the reader with some hearty laughs along the way.

Here's but one example of Thompson's writing that had me in stitches:

"We’re in a small, dark bar, an Aussie expat hangout. Across the table is my good friend Shanghai Bob, American expat and Old Asia Hand of distinguished order. To the right, a pair of astonishingly wasted guys in ridiculous bush hats (are there any other kind?) are sparking up what is certainly not the first joint of the evening. To the left, a young Thai girl is giving a rapid-fire, beneath-the-table hand job to a poker-faced German who throughout the event swigs his beer with a nonchalance that suggests he’s back in Bielefeld with his loving Schnuckelputz and adorable rugrats Klaus and Liesl frolicking at his feet.

The German looks like he’s in for the long haul and sometime during the girl’s indefatigable ministrations a door opens near the rear of the bar. Out spills a porcine gent, half-a-century old if he’s a day, accompanied by a slightly disheveled teenager modestly hitching up her bright orange halter top. Behind the door one can see into a narrow room, the primary features of which are a naked light bulb swinging from the ceiling and a stained mattress on the floor.

It’s at this point that Shanghai Bob looks at me and says, with utter sincerity, with complete lack of irony, “You want to get another beer here or go some place kind of sleazy?”

Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of A Rogue Travel Writer” is a book I would highly recommend. It's a great read and one that contains numerous funny episodes from the author's travel writing real life experiences.