Travel

Meet Your Trip Leader, Gary!

By OceanFirst on 4/7/16

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As Ocean First's Assistant Training Director and resident expert on rebreather diving, Gary is an integral part of the Ocean First team. His passion for adventure has landed him the position of trip leader for our upcoming New Years liveaboard diving trip to St. Kitts and St. Maarten. Here's a little more about Gary: 

How long have you been diving and what makes you continue to dive?

I've been diving since 1997. I love the sport, its sights, sounds, serenity, challenges, science, and the ability to move three dimensionally on my own. The feeling of floating in midwater and being able to move in any direction you want while existing in a harsh environment safely and being awestruck by the indescribable beauty of the underwater world is an incredible experience every time I enter the water, from crystal clear warm tropical waters to cooler or cold waters.

If you had to choose one location to dive for the rest of your life, where would you choose and why?

I have many favorites and it would be difficult to pick just one.

My two tops are the Rowley Shoals off the west coast of Australia about 200 miles in the Coral Sea, and Alaska's inside passage. 

The Rowley Shoals because of the frontier diving it offers. There are no mapped dive sites and the dives are planned by looking at the reef from the boat. The location receives about 45 divers a year, which leaves the habitat completely unaccustomed to divers. Divers have an opportunity to see the natural behavior of the habitat in their natural environment.

Alaska because of the different and very diverse life beneath the surface, the shore excursions offering views of the diverse lifestyles from fishing villages only accessible by sea, to industrial centers, to tourism based economies, as well as the enjoyment and additional challenge of cold water diving. Sea lion visits on the dives makes it an added bonus!

 

Why do you love liveaboard diving?

I enjoy liveaboard diving as much as I do shore based diving . Liveaboard diving does offer benefits over shore based diving, in that there's no long boat ride to the dive site!

What sets you apart from other trip leaders? 

Well, to be honest, all of OF's trip leaders are a lot of fun so that's a tough question!

What is your experience diving in St. Kitts & St. Maarten and/or the Caymans? 

I haven't been diving in St. Kitts & St. Maarten yet but I did join the Ocean First Saba trip in November of 2012.  I've been to Grand Cayman two times and Little Cayman four times, totaling about 175 dives in the Cayman islands.

What is your favorite thing to see on a dive?

I still have yet to see Manta Rays or Whale Sharks, and I' really like to see a Great White Shark as well. There's an abundance of things I enjoy looking for on dives. I especially enjoy searching for small life, such as the Pederson Cleaner Shrimp, and Blue Cleaner Wrasses. With these two cleaners, I'll offer my fingers and hands to the Pederson Cleaner Shrimp for cleaning, and with the Blue Cleaner Wrasses, I'll offer my wet-suited arm for cleaning. Having the opportunity to interact with these creatures requires a lot of patience, and is rewarding to see 4 or 5 Blue Cleaner Wrasses searching your wetsuit for ectoparasites to snack on.

Tell us about your non-aquatic hobbies!

I have spent a lot of time using antique film cameras with black & white film I had to hand roll, for landscape and portrait photography. I would develop my own film and enlarge my own prints. I would spend countless hours in the darkroom enlarging, composing, burning and dodging prints for my portfolio. Additionally, I've enjoy motorcycle touring, downhill skiing, water skiing, camping, hiking and golfing (which was more like goofing in my case).

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