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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Deep’ by James Nestor

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Deep by James Nestor

Reviewed by Rebecca Warren

Deep by James NestorIn ‘Deep’ James Nestor kicks off with his previously published and somewhat sensationalised account of the freediving depth championships in 2011 in Greece – an event he was sent to cover as a journalist despite by his own admission having zero knowledge of the sport. He then launches into a wide reaching account of assorted oceanic research past and present – some of which use freediving as tool to gain closer access to marine life. James is lucky enough to be invited out on some of these expeditions on the proviso that he learn to freedive and so the reader also gets to join him on his own journey into freediving. Along the way he discusses our own connection to the ocean and the philosophy behind open water freediving both as competitive sport and personal journey.

A great storyteller, James’ journalistic writing makes for exciting reading especially when recounting personal experiences such as a trip in a home-built submarine to the depths where daylight does not penetrate and an encounter with a sperm whale.

The large quantity of information and topics covered in the book makes it feel as if there was the potential for several different books within its pages. The writing style leaves the reader confused as to what is fact and what is opinion, with some glaring inaccuracies about safe freediving practise which could be dangerous to the uninformed reader; and the hyperbole contradicting any message on marine conservation, such as his insistence on using ‘man-eating’ in front of the word ‘shark’ on almost every occasion.

In one chapter he meets with the remnants of the Ama, Japan’s all-female freediving community and is received with disdain and hilarity when having bought carbon fibre fins and a custom-made wetsuit (and spent goodness knows how much getting there) he fails to dive below ten foot (because at this point he has made no attempt to learn to freedive). His confession of this and subsequent reflection on his own ego comes across as touchingly honest.

However when he completes the book by chartering a ship to take him out to sea in order to drop an especially constructed container with an electronic copy of the book into one of the deepest ocean trenches (for the fish to read?)  in a purely egotistical act of deep-sea littering one feels that despite the book’s title the ocean has taught him nothing about himself.

If you can put the sensationalism and inaccuracies to one side then you can read and enjoy this book. And there is plenty to recommend it as a good read – the pace, the deft characterisation of the individuals he meets and his descriptions of the oceans make it worthwhile. But if, having read it, you become interested in any aspect of it you may want to do your own research.

 

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Photo Gallery: Dive Fest Barbados

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they reflect on their visits to the Caribbean Island of Barbados for the annual Dive Fest celebrations.


Dive Fest Barbados is a week of celebrating the marine life, diving and snorkeling this idyllic island has to offer. There are activities organised each day for all those that attend that include wreck diving, marine conservation, learning to dive, snorkeling and one an unusual dive for us – riding a submarine to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea! Dive Fest Barbados allows divers to get the very best out of a trip here, with plenty of diving, but also to sample the unique atmosphere, mouth-watering food and drink, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches.

For more images from Barbados and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Video Series: The CCMI Reef Lectures – Part 4 (Watch Video)

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Introduced by Jeff Goodman

Never before since human beings have had major influence over our earths climate and environments, have we come to so close to the brink of global disaster for our seas and marine life. We need to act now if we are not going to crash headlong into irreversible scenarios.

A good start to this is understanding how the marine environment works and what it means to our own continued survival. We can only do this by listening and talking to those with the experience and knowledge to guide us in the right direction.

CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) are hosting an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public and Scubaverse will be sharing those lectures over the coming months.


Part 4: Stop Whining! Life as an Ocean Ambassador; Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts shares her insights on how to act, practice what you preach and use your voice to contribute to constructive change. Ellen is a wildlife and underwater photographer and chooses to take images of subjects that are hard to encounter like harp seal pups, polar bears, orcas, beluga whales and sharks, to name a few. By telling the stories about their environment and the challenges they face, she raises awareness about the effect of climate change on arctic species, the cruel act of shark finning and keeping marine mammals in captivity.

During this seminar, Ellen will take you on a virtual trip and show you the stories behind the shots: how to get there, how to prepare, how to create the most chances to come home with a shot, and how to never give up!

Ellen Cuylaerts is an ocean advocate, underwater & wildlife photographer, explorer, and public speaker.


For more information about the CCMI click here.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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