Meet the Diver of the Month, Marty!

By OceanFirst on 6/20/18


After a traumatic near-drowning experience as a child, Marty has been wary of submerging himself in the water. However, a moment of inspiration led him to Ocean First in 2017 to give scuba diving a try. He has been an avid diver ever since, and our instructor team has thoroughly enjoyed working with him and his wife on a variety of continuing education courses. We love seeing the enthusiasm and excitement he exudes every time we talk to him. Learn more about Marty and why he has fallen in love with diving: 

What was your motivation to learn how to dive? 

I was terrified of the water. When I was a little kid I almost drowned in Chesapeake Bay, where my parents' house was about 50 yards from the beach. I enjoy whitewater rafting and being on the water in a boat but the thought of being underwater caused a lot of anxiety. My wife, Debra, and her family are from Minnesota where being in and on the water is like a blood sport. She was a lifeguard and swimmer and was comfortable with the idea of diving, which made me think it was something I should at least try. I also wanted to do it for my son who unexpectedly passed away last year at the age of 26, and who I dearly miss. He was a big-air snowboarder and was into extreme sports, and he always said we worked all the time and should have more fun. So that’s exactly what we’re doing with diving.

My wife and I looked around at dive shops and Ocean First was close to our home and seemed like the best. I also liked that they said they would get you certified and stick with you through the process. I thought to myself, hmmm, we’ll see about that, if they could teach me to dive they could teach a cement truck how to swim. Bruce Penner entered the picture as our instructor and was nothing short of awesome. He has the patience of a saint and spent extra sessions with us so we could get better with our buoyancy. I was impressed with the emphasis on safety at every step, including how to function safely underwater under fun circumstances, as well as knowing how to calmly respond when things go sideways. There’s a reason to know how to automatically do things like air share and the lost buddy procedure. I was a challenge but Bruce got me through it! image_1529521380181.jpeg

How long have you been diving? 

We have been diving for a year. In that time we also got certified in Nitrox in a great class from Gary, Neutral Buoyancy with Bruce and Kathy, and I took Science of Diving with Bruce. As I said then, I finally found a use for all those gas laws I learned in high school physics. Debra and I are both working on Underwater Photography. As soon as we finish one more class we will be Advanced Open Water Diver and another long trip should put us at the Master Diver rating. I would never have thought I could get to this point in such a short time. I went from sucking down a tank of air in no time at all to actually relaxing underwater. Now when I’m on a dive trip I can't wait to get in the water and start a nice steady descent. The instructors and staff at Ocean First are so amazing, and I have heartily recommended them to a lot of friends. In addition to the instructors, I mentioned I would like to thank Roger, Scott, Red, Kelly, and Kellon for all their expert assistance and patience. You guys rock.

Where is your favorite place you have dived? 

Without a doubt – Little Cayman. We went there for two weeks at Christmas and New Years and it was incredible.  Amy put together THE BEST package for us. It was not only a great dive trip; it was the best vacation we have ever experienced. Diving the wall in Bloody Bay and all the reefs around the island was spectacular – fish, coral, sponges, an old cannon, all of the underwater scenery. Multiple dives a day, day after day. The staff, dive masters and boat captains were absolutely top notch, with an emphasis on diving safety and instruction, seeing a lot of cool stuff and having a good time. And the meals were awesome. Thank you Amy! I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention we had a great time diving off of Maui in September, the highlight being the Cathedrals by Lanai and seeing a pod of about 100 spinner dolphins.

Where is your next dive trip? 

Not sure, someplace with warm water, good diving, yummy food, and cold drinks. Maybe Fiji. If money wasn’t a limiting factor I would just go diving all the time. That said I want to get dry suit certified so I can dive Iceland with Ocean First. My wife wants to go along for the land portion of the trip – I think she’s worried I will have way too much fun on a trip with Roger.

What aquatic animal are you most excited to see?

Everything is great to see since I’m new at this. But I think big lobsters are sort of neat, as are rays, turtles, and sharks. When we were diving in Maui by the Mala Pier we were poking along with the guide looking with a big flashlight in the nooks and crannies for eels and fish. All of a sudden we startled a good sized white tip reef shark that was resting in among the concrete blocks. It shot by us less than a foot away and it literally almost ran into me. My regulator nearly fell out I was so surprised, and the guide was laughing so hard underwater.

What does the ocean mean to you? 

As a former research scientist and university faculty member, the ocean is important for multiple reasons. It's really a good barometer of climate change and variability, pollution, terrestrial land use changes, and ecosystem function. Unfortunately, in many places, we see the adverse effects of human activity like overfishing and damage to marine mammal populations. As you learn in class, the ocean comprises such a large percentage of the earth’s surface that it is important to understand what’s going on there.


Thank you, Marty, for being such a wonderful friend of Ocean First. We are so excited to see where your diving career will take you next!

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