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Book Review: The Underwater Eye by Margaret Cohen



Jeff Goodman reviews The Underwater Eye: How the Movie Camera Opened the Depths and Unleashed New Realms of Fantasy by Margaret Cohen

It’s not that long ago that humans started to explore the underwater world in person rather than only being able to observe from what we saw at the surface or brought up in fishing nets. We progressed from basic underwater diving barrels to modern day scuba in a very short time and during that time, we invented cameras that could function underwater and record all we saw. Stunning and rapid advances in technology that enabled us all to explore and share the underwater world.

It is important, and enjoyable, to explore those advances and to gain the knowledge of the progression of our inventions, up to the present day, and Margaret Cohen’s comprehensive research and skilful writing makes this book a fascinating read.

Today everyone can have access to underwater cameras and the scuba/diving equipment needed to use them. We take it all for granted. But it was, we are informed, all hard earned for us by a few extraordinary people with a great passion for exploration and invention, as well as a love of the underwater world.

The Underwater Eye is a very well written and researched book that takes us comprehensively through this remarkable journey.  Since the early days of underwater exploration and film making where it was exploitation of wrecks as well as recording the unknown wonders of marine life that drove us forward, we now use underwater filming in many other forms such as education, entertainment, science and art. It is an exciting and thrilling environment to be filming in and this book captures all that excitement in both its text and wonderful historic images.

The book covers, in detail, the filming of our fantastic marine life as well as looking at the issues of pollution, over fishing and habitat loss. It is here that underwater cameras and filming can help to let the world see what is happening to our oceans and ‘The Underwater Eye’ can be part of our ocean’s protection.

As well as being available as an e-book, it is the hardback version that I prefer to be on my book shelf or resting on the side table, to be revisited and appreciated in quiet moments.

Published by Princeton University Press | 21st June 2022 | Hardback | £28

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Margaret Cohen is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization at Stanford University, where she teaches in the Department of English. Her books include the award-winning The Novel and the Sea and The Sentimental Education of the Novel (both Princeton), as well as Profane Illumination: Walter Benjamin and the Paris of Surrealist Revolution. She is also the coeditor of The Aesthetics of the Undersea and general editor of A Cultural History of the Sea. She lives in Stanford, California.

Jeff is a multiple award winning, freelance TV cameraman/film maker and author. Having made both terrestrial and marine films, it is the world's oceans and their conservation that hold his passion with over 10.000 dives in his career. Having filmed for international television companies around the world and author of two books on underwater filming, Jeff is Author/Programme Specialist for the 'Underwater Action Camera' course for the RAID training agency. Jeff has experienced the rapid advances in technology for diving as well as camera equipment and has also experienced much of our planet’s marine life, witnessing, first hand, many of the changes that have occurred to the wildlife and environment during that time. Jeff runs bespoke underwater video and editing workshops for the complete beginner up to the budding professional.


Palaemon Divers shortlisted for top Business Award



North West-based Dive Centre, Palaemon Divers, has been shortlisted for Leisure and Tourism Start Up of the Year with Start Up Awards 2023.

Palaemon Divers is delighted to be named a finalist in the Awards which celebrate Start Up Businesses and what they have brought to the economy within three years of their launch.

Palaemon Divers was started by Leanne Clowes in the midst of COVID lockdowns. Leanne walked out of her well paid corporate sales job with no savings after a redundancy in a previous role and spending the majority of the year before COVID to follow the dream! After the redundancy and COVID, life struck just a little differently and the pull to become a full-time dive instructor became impossible to ignore!

So with that… notice was handed in, no savings, nothing physical to start being a full time dive instructor other than personal kit at the time – oh and the fact, Leanne was actually an Assistant Instructor at the time and hadn’t attended the instruction exam at that point as there had been none going on through COVID obviously!

However, the first Instructor Exam that was happening out of COVID was booked onto – no pressure at all with no full time job, no money as a back up, mortgage and bills to pay…

Leanne started freelancing as an instructor in the North West using various outdoor locations for training, and the business snowballed and quickly gained its first physical dive centre in January 2022 along with finding their own private in-water training facility at Princes Dock in Liverpool. Since then, 100s of new people from Liverpool and further afield have been introduced to the amazing sport of scuba, and experienced the abundant life under the surface of the dock itself.

In a time of no travel to outside your area or abroad, Palaemon Divers found something new and exciting to introduce the city of Liverpool to those who spend five days a week in the office looking down at the dock and not really being able to appreciate what the dock actually means to Liverpool!

It became apparent during 2022, that although Liverpool was fantastic, more growth was on the cards which came in the form of a second location, Palaemon Divers – Warrington. The second dive centre is an ex micro brewery in Warrington with a central location close to the M6, M62 and M56, spread over two floors which includes a classroom, workshop, compressor and a floor dedicated to retail.

The efforts in building this business have not gone unnoticed with the shortlist for Startup Awards, and also another shortlist which will be announced in the next month.

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Gear Review: Quilted Polar Hat from Otter Watersports (Watch Video)



In a video shot exclusively for, Jeff Goodman reviews the Quilted Polar Hat from leading drysuit manufacturer Otter Watersports.

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