Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fun Times!

While in Chapters this past weekend we found several copies of the December 2009 issue of Scuba Diver Australasia Magazine, which is published in Singapore. This issue featured one of my stories, "Tropical Splendour in A Cold Sea." It is June 26, 2010. Fun times!

Tea For Two ~ Victoria’s White Heather Tea Room

Victoria, BC - June 26, 2010: While my wife and I were visiting Victoria this weekend we were hell bent on discovering a new tea house...something a little different than the notable High Tea service that the Empress Hotel routinely provides. Our internet search uncovered a quaint establishment called the White Heather Tea Room. The reviews from patrons were highly complimentary so we decided to give it a whirl.

We ordered the tea house’s best-selling “Big Muckle Giant Tea for Two.” Offering a delicious assortment of tea sandwiches, scones and other tasty treats accompanied by a selection of mouth-watering sweets, the tea service was excellent and at a cost that was less than half of what the Empress Hotel’s Tea Service costs. Taste-wise, our tea for two experience was exceptional. Kathryn sampled the exotic Balmoral tea, a blend of black tea with soft hints of Earl Grey and jasmine. while I selected the House Blend, a classic orange pekoe with a breath of Earl Grey.

Victoria’s White Heather Tea Room proved to be a hidden gem just a 10 minute drive from downtown Victoria. We will certainly make a return visit. Reservations recommended. For more information,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

BEWARE!: "NAUI’s Unethical Underwater Photo Contest Rights Grab"

A warning to underwater photographers around the world to steer clear of an annual underwater photo contest that is sponsored by NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors). The rules of this photo competition contain a clause that is designed to acquire “perpetual, non-exclusive rights to use the photo in any way, including but not limited to advertising and promotional use.” This single clause, from a respected dive training agency no less, is nothing more than an attempt to dupe unsuspecting underwater photographers into surrendering all rights to their image.

Well, the proverbial shit hit the fan when Jason Heller of, fired off a formal complaint to NAUI about the unethical image rights clause in their photo contest rules. A seemingly unrepentant Jed Livingstone of NAUI responded to Jason with some rather disparaging remarks stating “They don’t have to enter if they don’t want to.” You can read the written exchange between Heller & Livingstone at Scubaboard:

Bravo Jason Heller for spearheading this matter and a big “shame on you!” to Jed Livingstone and NAUI. All underwater photographers should “BOYCOTT NAUI's PHOTO CONTEST” until they rescind their photo contest's “copyright rights grab” clause.

"Raptures OF The Emerald Deep- British Columbia's Diving Wonders"

Underwater Photography Magazine, a bi-monthly web based magazine published in the United Kingdom has published my story, "Raptures of the Emerald Deep - British Columbia's Diving Wonders" in their July-August 2010 issue which has just been released to the world.

Editor & Publisher, Peter Rowlands commented, "It's another bumper issue thanks to your contributions and I'm very pleased with the way it has turned out."

UwP is a FREE web magazine aiming to give a platform for existing and new talent in underwater photography. In order to establish an accurate number of downloads, you must subscribe with a valid e mail address to download. The issue my story appears in can be downloaded at:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mission Impossible?

"The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed."
- Jacques Cousteau

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Grand Canyon SKYWALK ~ 4,000 feet above the Colorado River!

During our recent visit to Las Vegas, we took off on a day trip to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Located at Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Grand Canyon Skywalk opened to the public on March 28th, 2007. Sturdy enough to hold the weight of a dozen fully loaded 747’s, and strong enough to withstand winds up to 100mph, the Grand Canyon Skywalk is a unique U-shaped glass-bottomed cantilever bridge that spans 70 feet (21.34 meters) over the Grand Canyon’s rim and sits 4,000 feet (1219 meters) above the Colorado River.

The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West has quickly become one of the best day trip destinations from Las Vegas, NV and Kingman, AZ and has become the most recognizable cantilever structure in the world. While the Skywalk offers a truly amazing experience, be forewarned that the owners do not allow you to take pictures while standing on the bridge. There are photographers there to take your picture for posterity, for a hefty fee, of course.

Would we go back? Yes, for the first time experience, but would not return for a second visit due to their draconian policy of banning cameras and cell phones on the bridge.

For a video segment and more information:

Pretty Vegas!

June 9 - 14, 2010: We spent several pretty days & dirty nights in Las Vegas with my lovely young wife, Kathryn. Apart from celebrating her birthday, we enjoyed some very fine dining at several notable restaurants.

On this trip we also attended the World Tea Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, took the elevator to the top of the Paris Hotel's Eiffel Tower, and also made it to the dizzying heights of the Stratosphere Tower. On Sunday we rented a car and made a day trip out to the Western rim of the Grand Canyon.

Once again, we chose to stay at the luxurious Venetian and were glad we did when the hotel graciously upgraded our room to one with a view. For Kathryn's birthday dinner I took her out to dine at her favorite Vegas French restaurant, Bouchon. Afterward, we decided to attend a stellar performance of "The Phantom of the Opera" at The Venetian's 40 million dollar theatre. Awesome!

Funny story.
While we were passing through airport security at McCarran Airport for our return trip home, the airport security official reviewed our passports and boarding passes and then looked up at my wife and sternly said, “We got a problem.” The blood rushed from Kathryn’s face before he could say... “So where are you planning to take your husband away to for his birthday?” Where, indeed?

Here are some random images that I made...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mrs. Valerie May TAYLOR - Member of the Order of Australia!

June 14, 2010: I just learned that famed shark diver & marine conservationist, Valerie Taylor, has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to conservation in today’s Queen’s Birthday honors list. Certainly a deserving honor and one that is long overdue in my opinion. Her husband, Ron Taylor, was honored in 2003.

The official release reads:

"For service to conservation and the environment as an advocate for the protection and preservation of marine wildlife and habitats, particularly the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef, and as an underwater cinematographer and photographer."

Valerie and her husband, Ron, have for more than 50 years promoted the protection of marine life species. In particular, the great white shark and the grey nurse shark. Valerie has also lobbied for the conservation of marine habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park in Western Australia. She has also been vocal about securing protection for the potato cod, sea lions, southern right whales and sea turtles.

Ron & Valerie Taylor were my boyhood heroes and without them knowing it, contributed much to my lifelong passion & admiration for sharks. Their ocean work continues to inspire many the world over. While I once had the opportunity to speak with Ron briefly at a film night in Vancouver, I have only exchanged an email with Valerie. By any measure, Ron & Valerie Taylor are a class act!

For more information:

Friday, June 11, 2010

"Il faut aller voir." ("We must go and see.") - Jacques Yves Cousteau

June 11, 2010: Today would have been Jacques Cousteau’s 100th birthday. I can fondly recall tuning in to watch "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau," on TV whenever it played in the late 60s and early 70s. This television series brought the undersea life beneath the world’s oceans into millions of homes. No doubt, there will be many platitudes and celebrations honoring of the great man who not only helped to invent the scuba regulator, but he also helped raise the public’s awareness of the unique problems faced by the world’s marine habitats.

In 1961 when President John F. Kennedy presented the Society's Special Gold Medal to Captain Cousteau for his undersea exploration, the medal bore an inscription that symbolizes the pioneer's life work: "To earthbound man he gave the key to the silent world."

It just so happens that I’ve been reading Brad Matsen’s novel, Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King. A great read thus far that details the exploits of one of the world’s most beloved oceanographers. All I have to say on the anniversary of Mr. Cousteau’s birthday is, “Merci Beaucoup!” You took us on many great adventures, both while sitting in front of a TV set, and in my boyhood imagination.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Bowls of Blood" - a video by Gary Stokes about the making of Shark Fin Soup

Gary Stokes has posted a superb short movie from
Oceanic Love that shows the path from the ocean to the bowl. The video shows what goes into the creation of shark fin soup. and takes you behind closed doors into a Chinese restaurant's kitchen in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The video shows how pointless this bowl of soup is and also reveals the carnage required to make it.

WARNING - Scene's of a graphic nature, viewer discretion is advised.